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Turning Tankers?

This a phrase I have heard recently to explain why Local Authorities are not doing what they should be doing for the children in their Corporate care and also children with SEND.

How many years does it take to turn a tanker around?

If it is as long as it seems to be we would have run out of oil many years ago.

The tanker currently stuck in Land Locked Leicestershire is well and truly stuck.

Today I have seen an EHCP that has so many woolly phrases and meaningless jargon that any lawyer could have a field day withand this is just in Section B.

Perhaps Ofsted would like to come back for another focused visit.

Then there is the access for another child stopped because the petrol has run out.

I would love to be a cartoonist but I cannot draw.


If this seems totally random and out of touch please let me know but many parents in Leicestershire are now realising that Leicestershire’s provision for SEND is woefully inadequate.


Dyslexia, Dysteachia or lazy, must try harder

31/1/2019 Logan Hall UCL

Travelling to this event provided me with the opportunity to read for pleasure as I went on a train,

Walking to the venue from Euston provided me with the opportunity for exercise.

Finding the venue provided me with the opportunity to ask directions.

Waiting for the Event to start provided me with the opportunity to talk to others.

A couple from Devon. The wife was  a teacher and taught reading.

An ED Psych and another person from Milton Keynes Local Authority.

A mainstream Secondary SENDCO from Bromley.

Waiting inside the hall gave me an opportunity to take in the surroundings and notice the signers in converstion with a group on the front row.

The technical difficulties that were being experienced and dealt with by the camera team.

The event was entitiled Dyslexia Diagnosis

Scientific Understanding

Belief in Flat Earth

Greg Brooks chaired the Debate and Introduced Vivian Hill from UCL to explain the context of the debate.

The title had been taken from a Debate in the House of Lords on 30/1/2018.

Lord Addington, Lord Agnew, Lord watson and 2 Lords with names beginning with S also spoke in this debate.

Equality Act2010 and Children and Families Act 2014 were mentioned as well as Medical Condition and is the Earth Flat until science moved on?

This had  been debated because Warwickshire Local Authority had put forward a a paper which mentioned Dyslexia.

The next speaker was Jules Gaulby, now freelance and previously with Dorset Local Authority and Driver Youth Trust.

She made the case for retaining Dyslexia,

She argued that many adults and children are relieved and openly acknowledge dyslexia as being a valuable description for part of Who they are.

The alternatives she mentioned  were Lazy and Must try harder.

She mentioned case studies and her argument resonated with the emotional and mental damage that happen when the descriptors are Lazy or Must Try Harder for children but having a profound effect in adults who have been diagnosed in later life.

Next was Professor Julian Elliott from Durham.

He then put the argument for dyslexia being removed from the descriptors of poor readers.   I did take many notes but would need to check the sources to put the full argument here.

However the point about teaching all children with reading ages below chronological ages I am totally in agreement with.

After the short break there was a presentation by Associate professor at University of Warwick of using real books and assessment by teachers to inform direct instruction.

Training of teachers, consistency and Local Authorities all being an important part.

Then Jo Ward an EP from Staffordshire and Sarah Crawford an EP from Staffordshire gave a presentation on the paper they had written which had been the starting point of the debate in the House of Lords.

I cannot possibly do this excellent presentation Justice but have contacted them today for further details,

Then question Time from the Audience.

I did manage to ask a question about How are we going to train teachers to teach reading in initial teacher training.

Professor Elliott   the question by saying there isn’t enough time on the PGCE timetable but perhaps Continual professional development was the answer.

(And what about the schools and Academies who are School Centred  Initial Teacher Trainers?) I thought but was unable to ask.

When a Dyslexia Assessor from behind me raised the question about the 3% who still do not respond to the interventions for all children with less than age appropriate reading skills  as dyslexia is more than just reading? there was some murmuring on the platform but the fire alarm rang so we all had to file out.

I found myself talking to another teacher who hadn’t been asked to sign in so we walked to Euston together and concluded that much of the evidence in the debate had been around for many years but we are still failing to understand how valuable the skill of teachers in Early Years and Foundation is in early identification and early correct teaching.

The featured image is of Jackie Hewitt-Main of Cascade Foundation.

People like her will obviously be needed for many years to come as we seem to be notoriously slow learners as a nation.


How Leicestershire Consults 2

Have lessons been learned?

Perhaps and then again perhaps not.

The latest consultation was announced in the SEND Leicestershire Local offer Spreading the Word Edition5 Autumn/Winter 2018.

This edition also featured the dyslexia awareness event from October 2018.

The link for the Improving specialist SEND provision was on the front page

The online consultation is

Consultation ends at midnight on on Sunday March 31st 2019

Hard copies can be sent out if it is difficult to complete online

Phone 0116 305 7150


There are also meetings being held at some of the special schools

Birkett House, Birch Wood, Ashmount, Forest Way and Dorothy Goodman

Is the consultation document and questionaire in Dyslexia friendly format? No

Is there a dyslexia friendly version? Not yet

Is there going to be any provision for Dyslexia? Not sure

Is this blog in dyslexia friendly format? Not yet




Another year ends.

Highs and lows, newfriends and contacts, travelling, conferences, Festableuk so amazing.

Democracy and askiwhole picture-1424831716..jpegng questions at Leicestershire Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee as a member of the public.

This was the year that parents ‘roared’ with huge thanks to Tania Tirarao, Marguerite Haye and many others.

Interesting looking at the stats for my blog and finding that Dyslexia Awareness week 2017 keeps getting read.


Just some strengths


that many dyslexics have


How many do you have and how do you use them?




Happy new Year

Can anyone else see the elephants in the room with the ivory towers?

Literally speaking the ivory towers would be made from the elephants tusks. Thus if the elephants were not dead they would have been disabled.

Metaphoically speaking the room in question can be any room but especially the largest room in the world.

The room for improvement. The ivory towers metaphorically represent the people who refuse to see the disabled elephants.

2004 was quite a momentous year for me. I visited Kenya with a Tearfund Transform Study Group.

All volunteers, some of a more advanced age than others.

We did see some elephants and on one of the farms I asked the lady who was planting beans what the men did. Her answer was that all the men guard the fields at night to stop the animals destroying the crops. The animals are the wonderful animals that roam free in Africa like Elephants and Giraffes.

It made sense that the hard work of hand planting each bean in a whole field needed guarding at night so that a crop could be harvested and the large animals could roam away from these hand planted fields.



There were many children who lived a long way from any school so education was often later rather than at 5 years old.

In the UK churches,dame schools,ragged schools, workhouses and charities provided education for the poor and working class children back in the 1800s.

Great strides were made for all children to be entitled to a basic primary education and my Grandma was one of those children. Born in1876 she attended the local school.

At age 12 she went into service in the nearest town.

I don’t know much about her early life and never knew my grandfather as he died 3 weeks after I was born.
I do know that she valued education and 2 of her children were able to go to the local grammar schoolas they were awarded scholarships. This meant that many sacrifices would need to be made by the rest of the family.

My father was one of those children who went to Grammar school but he helped a local farmer with his milk round before he caught the train to school.

My grandmother was 70 years old when I was born and had seen many changes.

She died 6 months before my wedding.

Her daughter was the other child who went to Grammar school. She then went on to train as a nurse, midwife and health visitor. She didn’t have any children and married just before she retired a few years after my wedding.

My visit to Kenya was just after I retired and it was a steep learning curve.

In the mornings there were many people walking miles into Nairobi to work and then in the evenings walking back to their homes.

For many children education was provided by charities.

I met a lady who was doing a lot of work with adults and teaching adults to read and write.

She didn’t believe me when I said that in the UK there were adult basic literacy classes.

She said “You have had state education for over a hundred years.”

Over a decade since that visit I know Nancy Munyi and the RareGem school.

Nancy and her sister Phyllis have a school for dyslexic children in Nairobi.

There are some excellent private schools in the UK for dyslexic children but there is no provision in many State primary schools.

Many local councils are cutting Children’s services and many teachers are leaving because of the stress and paperwork.

The focus is on Secondary schools but Early Years provision and Sure Start centres are being closed.





Many unanswered questions and still no real provision for dyslexic children




SEND Funding

There are many conversations that concentrate on money as the most important element in SEND provision,

Certainly the provision does not match the spirit of the Children and Families Act 2014 requirements.

There are many families and teachers and health workers and social workers who find the lack of provision frustrating.

In Leicestershire The Children’s Social Services were judged to require improvement in all areas


Ofsted report



but the council cut the funding by £4 million and proudly put this as a front page saving on their Newsletter Leicestershire Matters with the heading A tale of 2 budgets.



They did put £2million back later in the year but some of this was to fund 2 more solicitors.

There seems to be a little more focused attention on the requirements needed to improve and one of these is the requirement to present an annual report of Complaints and compliments.

This report was presented to the Leicestershire Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 10th September 2018.

Although the words written did say that lessons had been and were being learned from the process of reporting complaints, the amount being spent on stage 2 and stage 3 of the complaints process did seem to indicate that more lessons needed to be learned extremely quickly if the current years budget was not going to be swallowed up with paying for complaint investigation and subsequent compensation.



Way back in February, I think, I attended a peer group review for the Ofsted process.

I realised that this was very much stage managed which is why I made sure my concerns were also in a blog form as well.




One of the concerns that came out was that families do not feel that they are listened to.

Well no change there as Sure start centres have been closed, parents still have to request meetings and continually get fobbed off. Only the most persistent will get their voice heard but this is at an emotional cost, a severe cost in time and energy as well as the inevitable financial cost.

Is Leicestershire learning lessons?

Time will tell and I am following several parents stories with interest.

In the meantime I can still recommend Special Needs Jungle and their considerable contributions to initiate change for all these vulnerable families.

6 points in the latest blog for the Autumn budget to be taken on board and delivered.


A walk round Wigston or’What awareness week?’

28th September2018

Today is a special day in the family.

But I want to tell you about yesterday:-

I walked to Wigston to meet someone in the Library.

On the way I met A and her grandchild and told her that I had been able to give 5 dyslexia friendly books of the Bible to some people on Tuesday. I then met J and told her.

I got to the library and met the person I had gone to meet. This person has many skills and is articulate but also has problems that stem from childhood and the lack of provision for Dyslexia inclusion and teaching.

I am aware that this is written in a font that is not dyslexia friendly but I am not sufficiently skilled in modern technology to change it.

We walked around the library and noticed that many of the official Leicestershire notices were not dyslexia friendly so not really accessible for dyslexics.

The staff are extremely helpful and always have been but Libraries are fewer now than 6 years ago

I want to add a photo here of a library group I used to run at Syston Library called Writing Stars. Roger James came as avisitor and brought his book. He is still a facebook friend.

Leicestershire committed to become Dyslexia Friendly by 2009. Unfortunately they didn’t register with British Dyslexia Association as it was going to be too expensive.

By not registering they saved £2,000

I seem to remember reading in Driver Youth Trust report that it costs £45,000 to remedy each illiterate adult.

Jackie Hewitt-Main OBE is working in Doncaster and has to spend time bidding for funds.

There is no doubt about how transforming the holistic, family atmosphere as well as the teaching that happens at Cascade for adults who have been through many traumas.

Back to the Library at Wigston and the staff are very helpful and want to work with each person so Pluck up courage and just go and ask while we still have some libraries in Leicesteshire.

There were 2 posters advertising the event at County Hall on 2nd October


I wonder if any of the 14 Primary schools in Oadby and Wigston have told the parents as there was only 1 that was planning to do an assembly and other activities.

Others said ‘What awareness week?’

I will ring you back but as several forgot to ask my name and number I don’t really expect them to get back to me.

One did go and ask the Head who confirmed they had received the electronic fliers for the event but they already did everything they needed to do,

I guess parents from that school may get to know about the event through Libraries,or social media or perhaps talking to other parents.

It is a school centred initial teaching school and I have had many parents contact me from that school.

Again I would like to display the poster but again my tech skills are lacking.

The event at County Hall is on Eventbrite and is a free event for everyone so you might be able to find it #21stcenturydyslexia.

I am certainly looking forward to the Keynote speech by Arran Smith but know it will take me time to assimilate the information and put it into practice.

I did take the poster with me in my bag and several people did take photos including a youth worker from an Oadby Church.

The lady I met at the Library also went to Festable UK so it was wonderful knowing we knew many of the same people,

SEND, Local Offer and primary school websites in Leicestershire

11th August 2018

The Children and Families Act came into force on !st September 2014.

Each school must publish their local offer for SEND children.

Parents from local schools continue to cntact me regarding lack of provision for their children, I have just checked all my local primary schools websites and they all say that they have an open door policy or that they listen to parents concerns.

Clearly this has still to be communicated to the parents.

I looked for certain information on the websites:-

SEND Policy


SENDCO Qualifications

Named SEND Governor

Mention of dyslexia, autism, downs,                                                                                          hearing ,sight, SALT

Special Unit

Local Offer

SCITT/academy trust

Out of 14 local Primary schools 4 had out of date policies, 4 stated SENDCo qualifications, 7 stated named governor, Most mentioned some of the different SEND needs that I had chosen. and 7 mentioned the SCITT/ Academy Trust.

One school, helpfully explained in their up to date and signed policy,

“Diagnosing Dyslexia

Where there is a concern that a child may have dyslexia this will initially be raised with the SENco and parents. If the child is in Year 3 or below a record of concerns will be kept and additional resources, such as coloured overlays, trialled to see if this makes an impact.  Once the child reaches Year Four they will be screened using software which highlights the existence of dyslexic traits.  If this highlights that it is likely the child does have dyslexia the school will endeavour to diagnose this using a qualified professional in Year Five.  Many of the approaches already used in school are dyslexia-friendly but we understand that a formal diagnosis of dyslexia can be useful when applying for extra time in statutory tests or when transitioning to high school.

Diagnosis of other special needs

If we have concerns that a child may have a particular special need which requires a medical diagnosis (such as ADHD or ASD) the school may advise you to contact your GP or we may contact specialist services ourselves.”

ALL schools claimed that quality first teaching was happening in their schools.

the websites may not have been up to date and I had to check some in multiple ways to find out the information so my data may be incomplete and inacurate but do children really have to wait until Year Five to diagnose dyslexia?

20th September 2018

I have phoned each of these schools asking what they are doing for Dyslexia awareness week 2018 #21st-century-dyslexia

Many asked me ‘what awareness week’

Others promised to ring me back but some forgot to ask my Name and contact details.

Some did ask my name and one school seemed to have a problem with the phone line as it suddenly went dead.


Is the culture fostered by the school leadership team the most important intervention a child can receive?

Checking primary schools websites and Ofsted visits for my immediate local area, I have discovered many do not have up to date SEND information.

Some have had recent Ofsted visits and now require improvement.


This is a question I have been pondering for some time. For very, many years schools have depended on their OFSTED rating to be the indicator that parents look for when choosing a school. Many of the ones that received an ‘Outstanding’ rating are now academies and also SCITT schools (School Centred Initial Teacher Training).

If the Head and SENCo have moved on and the Leadership team changed it is also very possible that SEND (Special Education Needs/Disability) are not given the priority that is needed for all children to thrive and achieve.

It is very noticeable that many primary schools now place Quality First Teaching as being a statement in their SEND policy. What exactly does that term mean?

Do all the teachers in the school have qualifications in SEND?

Do all the teachers in the school have an ‘Outstanding’ endorsement for their teaching?

Does every SCITT school have…

View original post 227 more words

SEND local offer 2018

4 years after Children and Families Act 2014 came into force parents might reasonably expect to choose schools based on all the data available.

My local area is Oadby and Wigston Leicestershire so I checked the websites of the local primary schools.

Many of these schools belong to the Oadby Learning Partnership and many are also School Centred Initial Teacher Training Schools.

AS parents from many of these schools contact me, I thought it might be useful to know the names of the SENDcos and SEND governors for these schools.

My understanding is that following the Children and Families Act 2014 this is a basic requirement for school websites.

The results were extremely varied. Few had photographs and it was difficult to find on many of the websites.

Many were out of date with one helpful website showing a SEND governor but other information showed the term of office had ended in 2017. Another had a SEND policy that they were hoping to review each year but either it hadn’t been reviewed or the website had not been updated. Either way it was not much use.

One website had a photo of the SENDco and a list of qualifications. The SEND governor was also shown with a photograph.

This particular school also had celebrated Dyslexia Awareness Week 2017 and boasted dyslexia friendly and autism friendly classrooms.

It would be fair to assume that parents from that school have not needed to contact me but that assumption would be incorrect as my blog on SATS concerned parents from that school.


The DRIVER YOUTH TRUST has copies of this guide to download now that it has been launched.

My thanks to Starlight Mackenzie blog also on WordPress for alerting me to this.