Dyslexia – A Guide To Getting The Right Educational Support
The Law Of… Getting To Grips With Dyslexia
Affecting around 1 in 10 people in the UK, dyslexia can have a devastating impact on a child, young person, or adult's learning capability.
Unlike other special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), dyslexia can be tricky to identify.
Samantha Hale, Associate Solicitor in Education Law and Community Care, takes a look at the symptoms of dyslexia and explains what support schools and colleges can put in place for students.
Is Dyslexia A Special Educational Need?
A special educational need (SEN) can have an impact on a person's ability to learn, regardless of their age.
As dyslexia affects a child's day-to-day ability to carry out activities, we consider it to be a disability under the Equality Act 2010.
What Are The Symptoms Of Dyslexia?
Although the symptoms of dyslexia vary from child to child, students generally have difficulties with spelling, reading, writing, memory and/or numbers.
Some common symptoms experienced by a child or young person can include:
- Reading slowly
- Making a lot of errors when reading
- Being unwilling to read, whether it's to themselves or out loud
- Easily losing track of where they are on a page when they're reading
- Seeing words as moving around on the page
- Being unable to spell unfamiliar words
- Forgetting how to spell words that are familiar
- Confusing the order of letters in words when they're spelling
- Forgetting the names of people they know or objects that are familiar
- Forgetting instructions that they have been given
- Struggling to remember items on a list
- Having trouble learning the months of the year and times tables
I Think My Child Has Dyslexia – Who Can I Speak To At Their School About This?
If you believe your child has dyslexia, you should speak to their teacher and their school's Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO).
By law, mainstream schools must have a SENCO, which is a qualified teacher who is responsible for supporting children with SEN. Their role involves managing the school's SEN policy and ensuring that the right provisions are put in place for children with SEN including those with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs).
SENCOs work closely with both the school staff and parents to ensure that children with SEN get the appropriate learning support, as well as monitoring their progression.
What Kind Of Support Can Schools Give Children With Dyslexia?
The learning process differs for each student with dyslexia, but there are generally 2 types of learning support that schools can provide for them:
- SEN support
- An EHCP (formerly a Statement of SEN)
Schools can provide children with SEN support, which is tailored to supporting their learning development. Your child's school should create a SEN support plan, which outlines the needs of your child, their objectives, and how the school will help them reach their goals.
Generally, for children under the age of 5 schools can offer:
- A written report on their progress when they're 2 years old
- A health check carried out by a health visitor if your child is 2 – 3 years old
- A written assessment in the summer term for your child when they're in their first year of primary school
If your child is 5 – 15 years old, you can speak to their SENCO or teacher about:
- Implementing a learning programme tailored to your child's needs
- Additional help for them if they're struggling
- The option for them to work in a smaller group
- Observing them during lessons and/or at break times
- Supporting them when they're taking part in classroom activities
- Encouraging their learning, for example building their confidence by trying activities they find tricky or letting them know they can ask questions
- Giving them extra help when they're communicating with others
- Helping them with physical or personal care tasks that they find hard, for example eating or moving around the school safely
Young people aged 16 or over, or their parents, can speak to their sixth form or college about what provisions they have in place and whether they're appropriate for them.
Education, Health And Care Plans (EHCPs)
An EHCP is created for a child or young person up to the age of 25 by their Local Authority if they need additional support that their school/college can't provide alone, and the Local Authority agrees to issue an EHCP.
It identifies the educational, health and social care needs of your child and sets out what provisions must be put in place to meet those needs.
If your child's school is unable to provide all of the support that they need, for example if it doesn't have the appropriate resources, it should contact your Local Authority and request an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA), which is the first part of the process to try and obtain an EHCP.
Alternatively, if you believe that your child's needs aren't being met through SEN support you can ask your Local Authority for the EHC Needs Assessment.
This would involve you explaining:
- Your child's SEN
- The problems that they're having with their learning and development
- The type of support they're currently getting from their school or college
- What kind of additional support they will need
- Providing evidence, where possible, to support the above from professionals working with your child
Alternatively, young people aged 16 – 25 have the option of requesting an EHC Needs Assessment themselves.
If I Request An EHC Needs Assessment Will My Child Definitely Get An EHCP?
If you or your child's school request an EHC Needs Assessment bear in mind that the Local Authority can refuse to carry this out. Likewise, if they do an assessment they could also refuse to issue an EHCP.
In both these instances, the Local Authority must advise you of your right to appeal against these decisions to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability). You can also appeal to this Tribunal if you are issued an EHCP but you are not happy with the description of your child’s needs, the provision to meet these needs or the school named.
Unfortunately, parents often struggle to get the Local Authority to carry out an EHC Needs Assessment and issue an EHCP if their child has dyslexia. Parents are sometimes told this is because they do not issue EHCPs for dyslexic children, but this is unlawful.
It is possible to get an EHC Needs Assessment and an EHCP for a child with dyslexia, which is why we recommend that parents should use the appeal process if you are refused an EHC Needs Assessment or an EHCP.
Can Reasonable Adjustments Be Made For Students With Dyslexia For School Exams?
Students with dyslexia might qualify for extra support during their exams – this is known as access arrangements.
Some of the provisions that could be put in place include them having:
- Extra time
- A laptop without spell check
- A reader, who would read out loud to your child (or you)
- A scribe, who would write down what your child dictates (or what you dictate)
- Software that changes speech to text
- A quiet separate room
- A break during the exam
It's worth bearing in mind that the school will decide what arrangements are suitable for a student and it is responsible for applying to the exam board to get approval for these arrangements.
How Can Simpson Millar's Education Team Help My Child?
If your child has dyslexia and you want to find out how their school or college can help them or you're unhappy with the support they've been getting, our Education Law specialists are ready to help.
We can review the measures in place for your child, whether it's SEN support or an EHCP, and help you request changes or new provisions. Our team will also be able to help you make a request for an EHCP or appeal against a decision made about your child's plan.