Local Offer Framework response
Dyslexia Action welcomes the fact that all Local Authorities will now be expected to produce a Local Offer which follows a common framework.
Dyslexia Action believes the confirmation in the House of Commons this week is one step forward to securing the consistent support the 800,000 children in the UK with mild to moderate learning difficulties such as dyslexia so badly need.
Dyslexia Action was concerned the evidence being gathered by 31 pathfinder councils, appointed in 2011 to test out the proposals in the Green Paper: Support and Aspiration, had not had time to inform the Bill.
As a result of representations from stakeholders, including ourselves, to the Education Select Committee, Minister for Children and Families Edward Timpson agreed to extend the pathfinder pilots by 18 months. The Committee recommended having minimum standards for Local Offers in the Bill and Mr Timpson MP yesterday confirmed there would be a common framework for local authorities to follow, during the Second Reading of the Bill in the House.
During the Second Reading yesterday, Graham Stuart MP (Conservative), said: “I am delighted that the Minister agreed to extend the pilots, but, in truth, as we scrutinised the legislation we had little information back from the pilots that would allow us to understand what local offers would actually look like. The regulations relating to local offers need to address our recommendation on the need to clarify what will be available for pupils with low to moderate SEN (Special Educational Needs)…’
Stephen McCabe MP (Labour) added: “Does my hon. Friend agree that too many children will be left out by the proposals? That is particularly true of children with dyslexia, who are excluded from the Minister’s current plans.”
Stephen Twigg MP (Labour) agreed improvements were needed to the Bill: “Parents have a lack of information about the support available. They then have a long, drawn-out battle to secure the additional support their children need. One in six children with additional needs will not be catered
for under these plans, and it remains unclear what the provision will be for children who currently have School Action or School Action Plus, which are to be scrapped.”
MP Graham Stuart stated: “Getting it right for those on School Action and School Action Plus …is critical, and that currently comes down to the Local Offer.”
Prior to yesterday’s reading, Dyslexia Action circulated a 10-point action plan of changes to the Bill to various MPs. Chief executive Kevin Geeson said: “We are pleased MPs are closely following the requirements of the Local Offer. It will be so important that the Bill Committee looks at, understands and scrutinises those regulations when a draft is published. The regulations and the Code of Practice will be absolutely key as to whether the legislation delivers for children with SEN.
“We have been calling for the Government to include a clause in the Bill which ensures all teachers are trained to identify children with a hidden disability such as dyslexia. Until this happens we are not supporting those who do not know how to read and write adequately and our teachers are therefore insufficiently trained to take this country into the 21st century.”
Mr Timpson MP confirmed a draft Code of Practice would be published for the next Committee stage which will be ‘…subject to a full public consultation process in the autumn’.