Singing From the Same Song Sheet

Everybody loves a freebie and the good people at the recent special needs conference and exhibition in Bolton were no exception. The event, known as nasen Live, is an annual fixture at the football stadium and attracts teachers, Sencos, trainers, learning support staff and a considerable number of dyslexia specialists. It is a two day event run by the National Association of Special Educational Needs and its intention is to make sure that professionals have the information and contacts they need to make sure their school, college, academy or university is up to date with legislation changes and developments in good practice.

The people who attend this event are hardened veterans of the professional development circuit and they were not to be bought off with offers of bags and biros. They were looking for value for money and resources which will make a difference and many passing stand A5 were delighted to hear that there were free courses on offer.

This was CPD Bytes first outing to nasen Live in Bolton so it was a great chance to find out what worries teachers the most. Right now a major focus is the new Conservative government’s plans. At primary level they want every 11-year-old to know their times tables off by heart, to be able to perform long division and complex multiplication, to read a book and write a short story with accurate punctuation, spelling and grammar. This is going to be a major hurdle for children with dyslexia and related specific learning difficulties.

Dr Steve Chinn is an international expert on dyscalculia. In his nasen Live seminar ‘Teaching mathematics as it is to the learner as he is’ he took issue with the government’s plan. ‘Practice does not make perfect,’ he said. ‘Many children give up on maths at the age of 7.’

Schools are right to be concerned. They have many hurdles ahead. Not least is the need to make sure that parents understand the issues. Sometimes it seems as if parents and schools are at loggerheads. Parents don’t want their child to be the ones who do badly at these assessments and blame the school. The school wants to put in place interventions which will help children but a straight programme of remediation may be inappropriate and may damage a child’s confidence and motivation. Both want to do the best for the child but sometimes they don’t understand one another.

The visitors to the CPD Bytes stand were delighted to find that the company has some free courses tailored to their needs. Introduction to SEND – a short course for school staff which covers the main changes occasioned by the Children and Families Act 2014 and Introducing Hidden Dyslexia (Parents UK) that will help parents to understand more about the condition and why certain strategies are recommended.

The visitors who signed up for these free courses at nasen Live are now on the right track to make sure that their parents and teachers can work together and put an end to the battleground that can so easily develop between home and school.