I have been that parent. I have been that teacher. I have looked after that school. I know how difficult is it to navigate the school when your child learns differently. I know how difficult it is to differentiate beyond making an easier worksheet. I know how difficult it is to coordinate a timetable so that teachers and support staff have time to plan out targeted provision. While these things are difficult, they are not impossible. Change always begins with education.
My first degree is in linguistics and I qualified as a primary teacher to pass on a love of language to children. Like most teachers, I wasn’t trained to teach children who learn differently. Not long after moving to the UK, I was asked to work with a 6 year old girl with a ‘complex’ profile and so began my life’s work: helping children who learn differently to get the help they need.
I received a Masters degree in Special & Inclusive Education. I became a dyslexia specialist, a Specialist Teacher. I assessed many children and young people. I lectured. I trained teachers. I ran parent surgeries with a DfE grant. I ran workshops for families, SENCOs, teachers and TAs. I worked in the independent sector. I worked in the state sector. I taught children from 6-16. I looked after provision in one school, then a network of 24 schools, and this is what I learned:
Having a label, a diagnosis, isn’t enough
A report from an educational psychologist has value, but it is not a teaching plan
Teachers need training to meet the needs of children who learn differently from their peers
Schools need a way to meet children’s needs which is not costly or labour intensive
Parents need education and support too