Nancy Gedge discusses the work we do, and how our Drive for Literacy programme presents solutions to long-held questions on SEND…
Here at DYT, we know that the knowledge and skill base amongst teachers is strong, and yet we are continually presented with the question: if we know what to do for SEND learners, why don’t they make progress? Following the social model of disability, we don’t accept that the answer must therefore be seated in the child themselves, so, therefore, we are left with the uncomfortable conclusion that it must, instead, be something to do with adults or the environment.
One of the great advantages of an organisation like DYT and a programme such as Drive for Literacy is that we have brought together professionals from diverse fields, and this diversity gives us additional insights that we would not otherwise have.
Under the direction of DYT director Chris Rossiter, a Work and Organisational psychologist, our consultants are able to look at the workplace of a school and help them to unpick why there may be learners with emerging literacy skills who are falling through the educational cracks. First and foremost in our minds are the pressures and priorities of teachers and how we can work with them to find solutions together.
Communication, information sharing and putting in place efficient systems for catching these learners are often areas that we identify for improvement and as such they form an important part of the Drive for Literacy programme. Neither of these areas have anything to do with either pedagogy or specialist knowledge of either literacy difficulties or wider SEND, but they are an essential part of a healthy and well-functioning workplace, and have a huge influence on the attainment of SEND learners.
Schools are unique workplaces, with their own cultures and ways of doing things, and sometimes it can be tempting to assume that professionals from other fields can make a meaningful contribution. However our experience is that the way in which the workplace functions can be a key indicator for the success of SEND learners.
Sometimes when we work in schools, it can be difficult, due to our proximity and our focus on children, to examine our systems, processes and workplace culture, and how it can be changed in order to effectively support vulnerable learners. One of the advantages of the Drive for Literacy programme is, through consultancy, the creation of that space for critical reflection.
The time for talking about SEND and asking questions is over. We know what to do. Now we must find the ways to do it.