The National Assembly for Wales Enterprise and Learning Committee today launched a report containing far-reaching recommendations on how best to provide support for people with dyslexia in Wales.
It notes that there is no accepted standard definition of dyslexia that is agreed by the Welsh Assembly Government nor any local authority in Wales, which precludes a consistent approach to the screening, assessment and provision of local authority funded services for people with dyslexia.
The report recommends that the Welsh Assembly Government, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and individual institutions reassess the content of Initial Teacher Training courses to significantly improve trainee teachers' understanding of additional learning needs.
The Enterprise and Learning Committee has also produced a synopsis of the report aimed specifically for people with dyslexia.
Summary of Recommendations
Recommendation 1 The Enterprise and Learning Committee recommends that a standard definition of dyslexia is agreed by the Welsh Assembly Government and the local authorities in Wales in order to ensure a greater consistency across Wales in the screening, assessment and provision of local authority funded services for dyslexia.
Recommendation 2 The group heard substantial evidence that the timing of intervention seems to be crucial with early intervention more successful in bringing at risk children up to the level of their competence. The Committee therefore recommends that dyslexia screening tests in both English and Welsh are available to all children at the beginning of Year 2 who are identified as having greater reading, spelling or writing difficulties compared to their peers. This must be followed by additional support and appropriate intervention by the end of the Christmas Term in Year 2 for those children who are identified as being at risk of dyslexia by the screening tests.
The Committee recommends that accurate official information should be collected by the Welsh Assembly Government on the prevalence of dyslexia in school children; including data on the characteristics of those with dyslexia and data on the length of waiting times for individual children to have an appointment with an educational psychologist.
Recommendation 4 The Committee recommends that the Welsh Assembly Government, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and the individual institutions reassess the content of Initial Teacher Training courses to significantly improve Trainee Teachers understanding of additional learning needs and this should apply to all initial teacher training courses. All trainee teachers (not just for those intending to teach in infant schools) should receive increased mandatory training to enable them to identify children who have additional learning needs. All trainee teachers should also receive increased mandatory training in the provision of basic support for children who are achieving below the average for their cohort. 47 Recommendation 5 The Committee also recommends that the Welsh Assembly Government, reassess the training given to classroom assistants particularly as part of the Foundation Phase, Ensuring that teaching the skills to support children with additional learning needs becomes a mandatory part of both the initial training for classroom assistants and a compulsory part of their continuous professional development to ensure that classroom assistants are equipped with the skills to provide this support effectively. Recommendation 6 The Committee recommends that the Welsh Assembly Government reviews the training on support for dyslexia available to SENCOs and funds additional provision as required to ensure a more even level of expertise amongst all SENCOs. Recommendation 7 The Committee recommends that the Welsh Assembly Government commissions research to consider the feasibility and potential costs of training a specialist teacher in every school to post-graduate level (level 4) in support of children with dyslexia. 48 Recommendation 8 The Committee recommends that screening, assessment and support for dyslexia should be equally available in both Welsh and English and that the Welsh Assembly Government should make additional resources available to meet the demand. Recommendation 9 The Committee recommends that the Welsh Assembly Government commissions an independent research project into different types of programmes in order to better identify which people are likely to benefit most from different types of assistance. This research study must be carefully planned to produce authoritative results and ethical issues given proper consideration. The research project should be developed in conjunction with the AssemblyÃ¢Â£Â£s Enterprise and Learning Committee. The interventions to be evaluated should include: Ã¢Â£Â¢Ã¢Â£Â¢ multisensory / movement based programmes Ã¢Â£Â¢Ã¢Â£Â¢ phonic based reading schemes Ã¢Â£Â¢Ã¢Â£Â¢ use of tinted lenses and coloured overlays (in conjunction with testing by an orthoptist for visual problems). If the circumstances for the Dore Programme change and they are able to resume services to new clients, the Dore Programme should be included in the research project. 49 Recommendation 10 The Committee recommends that the Welsh Assembly Government commissions a separate, statistically robust, pilot study of the Fast ForWordÃ‚Â® products to independently evaluate the results of this intervention.