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Getting Help for Your Child

The SEN Code of Practice requires schools to provide appropriate support so that all children have the opportunity to benefit from an inclusive education. A dyslexic child should be offered differentiated support to address the child’s particular learning needs. Dyslexia is a recognised difficulty under the Equality Act 2010.

You will need to talk to your child’s school about providing suitable help and support. If the school has a good understanding of dyslexia and adequate funding, it may not be necessary to go through all the stages below. In other cases, you may need to take a more active approach to get the help you need. You should always discuss with the school what you intend to do – because in the end it is the school which will have to implement any action plan.

You will find helpful advice on how to approach the school in the booklet Preparing for a Review Meeting.

However the current system of SEN support is in the process of being replaced. The Children and Families Act, passed in March 2014, seeks to streamline the system of SEN support: pupils with severe difficulties will no longer receive Statements of Special Educational Need. This is being replaced by an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC). The Act includes changes to the support and services children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities will receive. For pupils with less severe difficulties there will be a graduated approach to support. These changes will come into force from 1 September 2014.

For a summary of these changes see SEN Code of Practice

The SpLD-Dyslexia Trust offers Guidance relating to the new system of SEN support.

1. Speak to the class teacher (primary) or head of year (secondary).

Tell them about your concerns and why you think your child might be dyslexic. They may be able to identify support that your child needs and find ways of providing it.

2. Make an appointment with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) at your child’s school.

After a meeting with the class teacher or head of year, if you still have concerns, you should make an appointment to see the school Special Educational Needs Coordinator. It is advisable for both parents or carers to attend any meetings if at all possible for a more productive outcome.

3. Contact your local dyslexia association.

Your Local Dyslexia Association can provide you with information about support that is available in the local area.

4. Getting a diagnostic assessment.

You could request that an educational psychologist at the Local Education Authority (LEA) does a formal assessment. If the school is unwilling to refer your child, you can apply for this yourself direct or get help from the Parent Partnership Officer at the LEA. Unfortunately with current budget cuts, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get a referral from school, and many schools are advising parents to seek an independent assessment.

The LEA service is often over-stretched and there may be a long waiting list. So, if you can afford it, you could consider having a private assessment done either by a suitably qualified specialist dyslexia teacher assessor (£3-400) or a Chartered Educational Psychologist specialising in Specific Learning Difficulties, (around £4-500).

For information on where to go for independent assessments, contact your nearest Local Dyslexia Association. If there is no group near you, such as in London, contact the BDA Helpline for suggestions of assessors. You could also search for an Educational Psychologist on the British Psychological Society's website. In the section What are the issues? select Education and then Intellectual Assessment.

Alternatively you could contact your nearest Local Dyslexia Association for recommendations of experienced specialist teacher assessors with a Practising Certificate for assessing pupils.

6. Discuss the assessment report with the school.

Once you have an assessment, meet with the SENCO and discuss the findings of the report. The report should form the basis for an action plan to help your child.

If you obtain an independent assessment, however, the school may not automatically accept the findings. In this case, you should contact the Chief Education Officer for your LEA and ask him or her to ensure that the school implements an action plan.

If you continue to have difficulty getting the school to provide adequate support, you may need to enlist the help of the school governor in charge of Special Needs. With a diagnosed disability, your child would be entitled to reasonable support at school under the Equality Act 2010.