As regular readers will know, Drive for Literacy our flagship literacy programme developed because of my experience as a parent of three dyslexic children in the state school system. I’m going back some years now but I experienced defensive schools and teachers when I said my children were struggling to learn their first 100 words and finding it hard to progress through the ‘Biff and Chip’ books. The SENCos in the school had no mandatory specialist training of any sort, teachers told me my children were being naughty by not writing and my youngest missed multiple play times, art lessons and PE being kept in to ‘catch up’.
Things have definitely changed for the better now, but there’s still a long way to go. That’s why with Drive for Literacy we talk about ‘whole school development’ and culture change where those that struggle are not hived off and given ‘sticking plaster’ sessions but rather, from the head teacher down, there is an expectation that teachers are responsible for those pupils and that their needs will be addressed through the Graduated Approach and Quality First Teaching and the school structure is set up to support this.
Well now my youngest is heading to University and whilst I kept a ‘weather eye’ on the older two, they generally navigated their way fairly successfully. However, Archie has more serious needs. He’s not a free reader and writer, will struggle with lots of text, finds essays hard to organise, hasn’t mastered Dragon Dictation (mainly because he can’t correct a word from the drop down list because he can’t read them!) and he uses a Reader and a Scribe for exams. Oh and by the way, he’s studying Economics and Politics at Manchester University!
Some people will say he shouldn’t be doing that because his course will consist of lots of reading and structuring essays whereas others (me!), say he’s definitely bright enough. Archie himself would say it’s what he wants to do and I would add that he’s the ‘best read’ person I know from all the audible books and podcasts that he listens to on these and other subjects. He shouldn’t be prevented from doing this course simply because he’s dyslexic and can’t read and write very well.
So we’ve started the whole process of getting in the right support and here’s where we are. Think of this list as ‘top tips’ and questions that have come up and I’m aiming to give up-dates and answers as we go along. Any feedback most welcome.
Here’s what we learnt from Archie’s assessment.
The Equality Act says –
You must not discriminate against a student:
More information here.
If you are dyslexic, you are entitled to a maximum of 1 hour support a week. Archie’s assessor is going to ask for double i.e. 2 hours whereas in reality he will need much more than this. This approach seems wrong to me – surely it should relate to your needs?
I have to say that so far Manchester University have sounded great and supportive so I’m hopeful that Archie will be okay. However, I still think there are questions out there that need addressing so that every student going on to higher education gets the support they deserve.
I believe there is no further guidance on this which makes me wonder whether there are national differences in the support that universities offer their students?