To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she is taking to ensure that (a) dyslexia and (b) other learning disabilities are tested for at an early age, and that the relevant support is given to make sure the child does not fall academically behind their peers.
All early years providers are required to have arrangements in place to identify and support children with special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities, and to promote equality of opportunity for children in their care as set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework. Early years providers and educational settings should have arrangements in place that include assessment of SEN as part of the setting’s overall process for monitoring and assessing children.
All schools must use their best endeavours to make sure that children with SEN get the support they need. When deciding on the provision to be made for a particular child or young person with SEN or a disability, schools and local authorities must refer to the SEND Code of Practice. Teachers, and others working in schools, will work closely with their local Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) when supporting children with SEN and disabilities, including those with dyslexia. Support and intervention should be provided to meet the outcomes identified for each pupil, and the quality of teaching for SEN pupils and the progress they make should be embedded in schools’ performance management arrangements.
Where a child’s special educational needs cannot be met by their school the local authority can carry out an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment, and where necessary issue a EHC plan to provide additional support.
The department is working with dyslexia organisations to facilitate better support for children with dyslexia, including funding of £204,000 in 2015/16 to the Dyslexia - Specific Learning Difficulties Trust to provide expert advice, information and training on literacy difficulties, speech and language difficulties and dyslexia to schools and parents. This includes training teachers to deliver quality teaching and Special Educational Needs (SEN) support for pupils with dyslexia.
The department has also given a grant of £550,000 in 2015/16 to the British Dyslexia Association to fund a project to address issues around early identification and effective provision. The project will develop a certification framework which provides a graduated route towards a whole school policy for supporting children with literacy difficulties.
Furthermore, the department has placed phonics at the heart of early reading, since a large body of research evidence concludes that phonics the most effective way of teaching literacy for all children, including those with dyslexia and specific learning difficulties. The phonics screening check, administered at the end of year one, identifies children’s decoding ability, so that those who need further help can be identified and supported by the school.