When will they get it right?…..

Sarah Chapman

There are thousands of dyslexic children crying themselves to sleep unesessariy in the UK every night. Innocent children whos heads should be full of ideas and high aspirations, instead they are full of dread! It makes my blood boil hearing from parents who are utterly frustrated and lost as to how to get their children the support that they need in schools. They desperately want their children to be happy but in practice feel powerless. The new SEN Code of Practice (2014) which came at the start of the Autumn term promised a greater emphasis on collaboration with multi agency organisations and also parental and child consultation but whether parents know about this is another story. I have lost count of the number of parent who have told me that they have approached the school with concerns and been ‘fobbed off’.

Dyslexic children need to learn how to learn in a different way and it is very sad that many schools brush this under the carpet as a result of limited finance and/or knowledge! I am not saying all schools do this as I have met some incredible teachers who are deeply passionate about their role and spent a lot of their own time teaching themselves about Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs) but not all! I worked in schools for five years providing intervention and support to children with a range of diverse needs and quite frankly I was appalled! I started out wanting to be a teacher (the one I should have had in school) but I felt suffocated and helpless! Never mind the times I sat inside school staff rooms and listened to certain members of staff say such awful things about children with SEND (often blaming laziness or bad parenting!). I wanted to scream! Several times I would have to leave the room before I burst into tears! My experience in education was horrific and it pains me to know in some instances very little has changed.

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Some teachers feel frustrated at the lack of training to manage the diversity of needs found in classrooms today, especially with the rising demands and pressures on them to be ‘OUTSANDING TEACHERS’. How can you expect teachers to be outstanding when they are lacking the important tools to be so? Training……… 

I want to help on a much bigger scale and have dedicated my life to do exactly that. I hope that the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) succeed in their aim of making dyslexia a mandatory element of teacher training. I also want to see SEND education taught to all children in schools. The stigma that accompanies the term disability is socially imposed and needs to be ‘normalised’. Children need to be taught about neurodiversity and its positive aspects and strengths! Equally, so do teachers, parents and clearly politicians! 

Dyslexic children become dyslexic adults and there brilliance should be embraced. I absolutely LOVE being dyslexic and spend much of my free time campaigning to challenge negative perceptions. It needs to stop now! Dyslexia is not a ‘disorder’ it is not a ‘condition’ or an ‘illness’. We don’t HAVE DYSLEXIA.. We ARE DYSLEXIC’. It is not a cold, we do not need fixing or a cure, we need to educate people! What is disabling about disability is the environment that was facilitated without the consideration of diversity! We are all just people!

Having studied SEND policy from 1944 until now it angers me that the government is still getting it so morally wrong! They need to stop trying to fix a system that is blatantly flawed and create one that works! All children have a right to achieve their full potential and no matter how many changes we get through different government incentives or political party influences it is still wrong!

The lucky children who’s parents struggle to fund one-to-one support with specialist dyslexia tutors are few and far between leaving many wonderfully bright children deflated and confused. Schools need to communicate with these organisations and learn how they can really engage dyslexic children and those with other SpLDs in learning. I have seen first hand the amazing work that places such as The Dyslexia Association (TDA) do to improve the outlook for dyslexic children, adults and their families and wish that there was more government funding available for them to get more involved in schools.

“They don’t like to label”

Dyslexic children have amazing brains and great potential. They need to know ‘who they are’. They need to know how their brains work, that they are just wired differently and that they have so much potential! I honestly would give anything to have been able to have been given ‘my label’ at school! To know that I was not stupid, lazy and that I could do anything I wanted to do and be anyone I wanted to be! To know that I was not the only one. They need to learn to understand and identify their strengths so that they can manage their challenges in a much more positive way.

The biggest issue for many dyslexic children growing up is not the difficulties they experience in learning and retaining information but the beating they take to their confidence and self-esteem as they naviagate a system dominated by league tables and linear assessments. Assessments which wrongly place some dyslexic children in lower ability sets where they are made to feel inadequate as their less able peers rise above them. Can you even imagine how it feels to be in this situation? Desperately wondering what on earth is wrong with your brain? Held back from reaching your potential through a lack of awareness? Dyslexic children need to learn how to learn independently. They have ability by the bucket load and just need to be shown how to unlock their potential. 

That is why it is so important that parents encourage their dyslexic children to learn about their differences and to embrace them whilst exploring and developing their interests outside of school. They need to know they can succeed! Exams destroy people. Why not test a different way? I am a first class student with many of my assignments achieving well above 90% but if you asked me to sit an exam I would FAIL! Am I a failure Mr Cameron?

Not everyone will build an empire like Richard Branson but EVERY SINGLE DYSLEXIC CHILD should feel happy and secure in their own skin! EVERY SINGLE CHILD should know about all of the amazing innovative and creative technology and business solutions we have in this world because of dyslexic thinkers!

#STAMPOUTSTIGMA

Being dyslexic means nothing really but it does to children who are being failed in schools! It does to parents whose hearts are breaking every time they drop of their children at the gates knowing what lies in store for them inside. I hate how we are stigmatised by negative terminology in the media and everyday in all aspects of our lives.

I wish that the government would listen to the people who know, the people that matter the most, the people that live it every day! #Michael Gove! One of the most despised men in the UK (enough said). Why did the Coalition Government (2010) scrap ‘The Rose Review’? And please tell tell me WHY are people who clearly have no idea about ‘REAL’ SEND issues/impact/life allowed to shape such an important element of our being? Why are the most important voices of all ignored and not utilised?

This blog post may seem overly heavy but I am writing in defence of our dyslexic children who are being stripped of their hopes, dreams, confidence and self-esteem more and more each day and it needed to be said!

#education #knowledge #empower #inspire #motivation

adminWhen will they get it right?…..