The Dyslexia-SpLD Trust is made up of the British Dyslexia Association (BDA), Dyslexia Action, Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre, The Professional Association for Teachers of Students with Specific Learning difficulties (Patoss), Springboard for Children, Xtraordinary People and the Driver Youth Trust. The Trust is established to bring together and provide a combined voice amongst the organisations working to improve outcomes for individuals with dyslexia and specific learning difficulties. It provides reliable, unbiased information to parents, teachers, schools, local and national government and acts as an important communication channel between government and the voluntary and community sector.
Whitehouse has worked with the Trust on a campaign to ensure that the Government’s SEN reforms improved outcomes for children and young people with dyslexia and specific learning difficulties, particularly through active participation in the scrutiny of the Children and Families Bill.
Whitehouse worked with the Dyslexia-SpLD Trust to assist supportive parliamentarians in tabling amendments to the Children and Families Bill so that a number of key areas of concern were debated. This work has ensured that children with dyslexia and specific learning difficulties have been considered during the passage of the Bill through both Houses. Whitehouse has also undertaken activity to build awareness of the Dyslexia-SpLD Trust in Westminster through a programme of activity including arranging a series of events in Parliament and briefing parliamentarians ahead of relevant debates.
As a result of cross-party parliamentary pressure, Education Minister Lord Nash confirmed during the Report Stage of the Children and Families Bill in the House of Lords that the Government will allow an apprentice with learning difficulties or disabilities to be able to sit an alternative skills tests to the standard written assessment – a major concession given the Government’s enthusiasm for robust written testing.
Lord Nash also confirmed in the Bill debates that the updated SEN Code of Practice – the effective instruction manual for how the SEN reforms would work in practice – would require schools to review teachers’ understanding of strategies to identify and support vulnerable pupils, and their knowledge of SEN most frequently encountered in schools such as dyslexia. This was a notable compromise, as the Government had been championing the autonomy of schools and was reluctant to impose any responsibilities that would encroach on their freedoms.