January 31, 2012
January 31, 2012…
As I sit at my desk I am thinking back eight years and thinking of the research, discussions, idea storming, planning, dreaming and hard work that I have put into reaching 5 years of The Dyslexic Dyslexia Consultant being in business, and I smile as I realise that today is The DDC’s 5th Birthday and that tomorrow is the 1st day of my 6th year!
I vividly recall my visit to Priorslee Tax Office on the 31st January 2007, full of nerves and excitement they must have thought me slightly mad as I pronounced that I have come to notify them that I was officially self employed!
My very first client was a neighbour of the tax office, RICOH UK also in Priorslee; I was called in for consultation and to work with an employee, a fabulous lady who they were keen to help. Next client it was the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering (D C A E) based at RAF Cosford here I was asked to build and deliver a bespoke training programme for 400 of their trainers. Since 2007 The DDC clients have included both corporate & private clients alike, be they schools, colleges, training agencies, parents, individuals, Academy’s, local fire service and many more.Services provided to date include training, teaching, staff development awareness, tuition sessions, one-to-one specialist tuition, dyslexia screening tests, Mears Irlen screening tests, consultations and advice & guidance and much more.
I would say the joint first place for job satisfaction is the Dyslexia and SPLD Awareness training that I deliver; the Gestalt moments, the moments where the penny drops and the people I’m training or teaching suddenly realise and start to believe and understand; what dyslexia is, how it effects their students, trainees or employees and then, the realisation that I was serious, when I told them that dyslexia really wasn’t about – reading, spelling & writing! Those moments are why I started The DDC. They are amazing moments!
The other joint first place is my work with individuals, the 1:1 specialist SpLD tuition that it is my privilege to provide. Exhausting work but so worthwhile, I get to work with the most amazing people. People who the compulsory education system is sadly letting or has in one way or another let them down, is failing or has failed them. These individuals who demonstrate a passion and determination with a thirst to learn and achieve that is second to none, are an absolute pleasure to work with! It is testament to their abilities that they learn so much in the short time I work with them.
A warm sense of achievement fills me as I reminisce over the last five years. All that has been achieved, all the people who have been enabled, trained and made aware that dyslexia isn’t about reading, writing and spelling! Then a jolt of realisation that this work is not finished, with approximately 30 before I reach retirement age, then makes me nauseous but exhilarated, as much as I did 5 years ago when starting The DDC … 30 years… I start to wonder the possibilities of how much more could be achieved in 30 years? How many more people can I reach, train and enable in that time …WOW now 35 years that really would be an achievement!
April 7, 2011
Makes me wonder….
I was chatting with an adult student of mine yesterday about the year 6 SATs. He and his wife had been invited into school for a meeting to discuss the SATs.
I listened with great interest as to what happened at this meeting as I am always interested in finding out the different attitudes of our local schools, especially in relation to how they handle the SATs, what advice they give and just how much revision /catch up work they give the children to do at home.
I was aware that this school had already issued the children with a rather substantial book of work for the children to complete at home with parents, in readiness for their year 6 SATs. However i was still agog with surprise as i listened to how the parents at this meeting were given a surprise ‘mini SATs test’!
I was horrified that a school could do such a thing! My immediate reaction was a huge gasp as my hand raised to cover my mouth in surprise. I then asked the question ‘…’what? Even the SEN parents?’ the reply … ‘ all of us!’.
Where in this situation was the empathy, understanding and responsibility for the SEN parents in the room. As most of us are aware, there is a high likelihood that any parents with SEN children may well have been SEN children themselves, and so will now be SEN Adults (so to speak). The school legally have to make reasonable adjustments for their SEN children, but, felt it was perfectly ok to spring a ‘mini SATs test’ on the parents at this meeting with no regard to the impact and ramifications this situation may have.
I know & I know that the school know that the parent telling me about this is dyslexic and is entitled to exam concessions as a restful of his dyslexia. I also know from his reaction and our chat that this situation was extremely stressful experience for not only him but for his wife who was also subjected to this surprise test, both intelligent & successful people who found this to be a genuinely un pleasurable and highly stressful experience!
Whilst I understand that this situation was more than likely thought up to give an insight of the ‘SATs experience’ for the parents, I am shocked and disappointed in the schools lack of care for the parents and also question their empathy and understanding of their SEN children and parents!
I wonder if they are aware of the Disability Discrimination Act – DDA and if the term ‘Duty of care’ actually means anything to this education establishment?
September 14, 2010
14th September 2010 headline:
Ofsted says special needs used too widely
14th September 2010 The DDC alternative headline:
Less need for ‘Special needs’ label, if schools focused more on teaching for all their children.
Not quite as catchy and nowhere near as emotionally evoking as the headline this morning, but a lot nearer the true message of ofsted comments and much nearer the truth itself!
Head lines that are stated such as this are not helpful and are very stressful for our special needs children or the parents of special needs children, especially those who are fighting really hard to get special educational needs recognised in their children!
In my opinion the truth is that our children in the main are not taught in a way that meets their individual learning styles, there is too much ‘talk and chalk’ style teaching in the classroom and not enough hands on practical teaching in and out of the classroom.
Teachers should be given access to a team of specialists in their school who have knowledge & experience of all the ‘Special Educational Needs’ and not just one person who is the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO). It is also pertinent to point out here that the SENCO in a lot of schools usually has to teach a certain number of hours a week as well as carry out the role of SENCO, for the whole school!
September 13, 2010
Here we are, at the beginning of another academic year, with students, parents & teachers returning to education with renewed passions, energy & expectations for the year ahead.
For some students that first day back signifies a new beginning, the holidays have given them time to recoup, reenergize and reassess attitudes and expectations. So with head held high, deep breaths and hope in their hearts they step into school, college & university ready & determined to work harder, smarter and better, than they have ever worked!
For some parents that first day back signifies a new beginning, this year their child will be organized, they will keep up with home work & assignments, spelling tests, dissertations etc. This is the year that their child will ‘catch up’ will reach the average grades for their age group and/or get grades that reflect the amount f energy and effort that they put into their work.
For some teachers that first day their students come back signifies new beginnings, & opportunities, they are full of determination that this year they will make a difference, that they will inspire, motivate, effect change and enable ‘all’ their students to succeed. Also determined that this year the paperwork, marking and grading will be coped with, that the enforced bureaucracy will not get in the way of educating their students!
For me in my role as ‘The Dyslexic Dyslexia Consultant’, that first day back signifies that it is time to brace myself! To ensure I have both the time & emotional energy to be able to offer the right advice and guidance to those students, parents & teachers call when their initial expectations fall apart!
This year it was earlier than I expected, by 1:30pm on that first day back I had received my first phone call! A parent who was already at the end of her tether; promises made last year not kept and yet another teacher who didn’t understand the implications of her child’s Special Educational Needs (SEN) not to mention the ‘reasonable adjustments’ that should and need to be made. This parent wanted to know her legal rights, I could hear and recognize the despair in her words & vice as she realized she was going to have to fight for her child’s right to an effective education.
Later that afternoon I received my second phone call from another parent who last year had been promised a dyslexia screening test or their child, that work would be differentiated and that the teachers would be given some dyslexia awareness training; a meeting with the SENCO (special Education Needs Coordinator) that morning confirmed that last year’s promises had not been kept!
How is it that these collective passions, determination, spirit, hope and potential can be so quickly suffocated?
Our SpLD (Specific Learning Differences) students return to education determined that this will be the year that they do better, that they try harder, that they will knuckle down and impress their teachers, lecturers & parents!
I wish the government would put specialist (plural) teachers into each school who really understand and know their stuff too advise teachers. Each school, university should have a team of specialist teachers & assessors ‘on site’ for the teachers, students & parents to access. (it’s not rocket Science!)
It is so wrong that students have eating disorders, emotional & self esteem/confidence issues want to do things like break fingers or worse, attempting and even achieving suicide, because school, college or university is so stressful. Surely if it were their parents who were responsible for inflicting this, they would be prosecuted and done for abuse! So why do we tolerate this from our education system?
Surely with the combined students, teachers and parents passions, determinations and expectations our education system should be enabling our teachers, parents to enable our SpLD students to reach their potential and not be wasting it leaving it to lay dormant, and worse than that in so many cases its left or buried beneath ignorance and lack of understanding!
If you live in the Shropshire area and you would like legal advice about education I can hand on heart recommend Mortimers Solicitors in Bridgenorth www.mortimers-solicitors.co.uk