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The current LEA approach to dyslexia

View profile for Andrew Barrowclough
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A number of our SEN solicitor experts have noticed a concerning trend throughout England and Wales concerning the policies being implemented to support dyslexic children.

Dyslexia is a recognised disability and can have a devastating effect on a young person’s education. In 2009 Sir Jim Rose’s Report on 'Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties’ gave the following description of dyslexia, which was adopted by the BDA Management Board, but with the addition of the further paragraph shown below, which should always appear with it:

The description of dyslexia adopted in the report is as follows:

 'Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling.

  • Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed.
  • Dyslexia occurs across the range of intellectual abilities.
  • It is best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category, and there are no clear cut-off points.
  • Co-occurring difficulties may be seen in aspects of language, motor co-ordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation, but these are not, by themselves, markers of dyslexia.
  • A good indication of the severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds or has responded to well founded intervention.'

It is unlikely that a child ‘just’ has dyslexia too as difficulties such as dyspraxia or language impairment are often also noted further to comprehensive assessment. In addition years of underachievement often has a very negative impact upon a child’s self esteem and emotional wellbeing.

The problem is that in both England and Wales many Local Authorities consider that dyslexic children can always be supported in mainstream schools regardless of how severely behind their peers they are or how badly they have achieved with traditional phonic approaches. Some children will need a specialist environment however, others can cope in mainstream with alot more support.

The issue is that each case must be considered individually. If a 13 year old child is 5 years behind in terms of their reading and spelling abilities then yes they should obviously have a statutory assessment urgently in almost every circumstance. If the same child however were only 2 years behind in terms of basic skills but was 2 years behind in terms of accessing the curriculum then that is still a very strong case in terms of asking for a statutory assessment. The overwhelming advice of our SEN solicitors is that policies are irrelevant- dyslexia is never a low incidence need and each case must be considered individually and properly.

If you would like advice as to whether your child could be eligible for a statutory assessment and support from the Local Education Authority then please call one of our special educational needs expert lawyers today on 02920 291704.