Holiday closing notice
We are closing from the 21st December 2016 (Wed) and will be back on the 9th January 2017 (Mon). SPELD Victoria team wishes everyone a happy holiday season and a fantastic new year! Thank you for all your support!
Media Release: Victorian Government’s commitment to students with disabilities review a turning point for Victorian students
April 18, 2016
The Victorian Government’s announcement that they will implement the majority of recommendations in the ‘Program for Students with Disabilities’ (PSD) Review, is a turning point for Victorian students and their families, the Specific Learning Difficulties Association of Victoria (SPELD) said today.
In response to the PSD Review, the Victorian Government has committed to providing $22 million in additional funding to better support students with disabilities, including those with dyslexia and other learning difficulties.
SPELD Victoria President, Jason Henham said the implementation of the recommendations should result in a dramatic improvement in learning outcomes for Victorian students with learning difficulties.
“We welcome the Victorian Government’s unprecedented funding increase and commitment to improving the educational outcomes for the estimated 1 in 10 Victorian students with learning difficulties.
“These changes, when implemented in full, will position Victoria as a leader in the education, recognition and support of students with learning difficulties,” Mr Henham said.
Steven Capp, Principal, Bentleigh West Primary School (BWPS) -- "We also welcome the funding to increase our ability to further develop our work in supporting our students."
Sarah Asome AMADA, (Associate Member of Australia Dyslexia Association) Learning Support Teacher at BWPS said 'this is a very exciting time to be involved in Victorian education and particularly supporting those students with dyslexia. We know what works and implementing state wide change will move towards every student having access to evidence based teaching practice and sound pedagogy.
For further comment from Bentleigh West Primary School, please call (03) 95571228
Mr Henham said the Victorian Government’s commitment to providing an additional $2 million for a dyslexia and learning difficulties strategy to deliver professional learning, advice and resources for teachers and families was critical.
“Currently Victorian teachers have varying awareness and understanding of how to support students with learning difficulties.
“This policy will ensure that all teachers, principals and support staff will have the knowledge and skills to adjust their teaching practice based on the individual learning needs of their students.
Mr Henham welcomed the Government’s commitment to ongoing consultation and input from individuals, schools and organisations in the development and implementation of the reforms and said SPELD Victoria was ready to support where required.
“As highlighted in the review, we welcome the opportunity to work in partnership with the Victorian Government to provide schools with high-level expertise and advice around students with dyslexia and other learning difficulties.
Mr Henham said the focus must now shift to the development and implementation of the recommendations.
“We know too well that Victorian students with learning difficulties are currently falling through the cracks and not receiving the individual attention they need. As a matter of priority, these recommendations must be implemented across all Victorian schools,” Mr Henham said.
SPELD Victoria is the peak body for learning difficulties in Victoria, representing 300 members and thousands of Victorian with dyslexia and other learning difficulties. SPELD provides professional development to educators and school leaders, assessment and info line services to children and families.
For all media enquiries, please contact SPELD President, Jason Henham on 0424 327 790.
SPELD CEO Clare Carmody will be finishing with the organisation on November 11, following 18 months with the organization, the last 12 months as CEO/Acting CEO.
Clare has worked tirelessly over that period and made an invaluable contribution during her time with SPELD, notably:
- Re-engaging and empowering employees, volunteers and our team of professionals—psychologists and teachers—and harnessing their expertise in driving SPELD’s future.
- Leading SPELD Victoria’s efforts in improving education for Victorian students through our participation in the VCAA, VIT, PSD government reviews.
- Creating a culture that uses feedback and data to inform the work that we do.
- Thoughtfully overseeing the sale of SPELD’s property, an integral, important part of our history.
- Engaging with the Department of Education and Training to deliver Response to Intervention professional development to 30+ Principals, with more expected in 2016.
The Board thanks Clare for her dedication and commitment to SPELD during this time and wishes her the best for what will be a very bright future. The Board is now focused on the recruitment of a new CEO and finalising a long-term business model that best serves young Victorians and their families with learning difficulties. It’s an exciting time for the organisation and 2016 presents an even greater opportunity for SPELD to grow and reach more people with Specific Learning Difficulties.
Finalising the business model and recruiting a new CEO will be an organisational priority over the next two months. As such, the AGM will be moved to January 30, 2016 where we will present on SPELD’s year to date progress and present our vision for the years ahead. While the board is always keen to hear from members, it will also provide a great opportunity for members to meet the Board and ask any questions.
We welcome all to attend and look forward to seeing you then.
President, SPELD Victoria
_ _ _
I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support of SPELD over the past 18 months. I so am proud to have been among this team of caring and capable staff, advocates, volunteers and members working to grow SPELD.
Thank you all,
SPELD Victoria's response to "Improving Early Years Screening For Learning Difficulties" Media Release Victorian State Government
For many of us, the first tangible sign that the needs of those with disability were being embraced came in the 1990s, when we saw wheelchair accessible buildings starting to become the rule rather than the exception. We’ve learned since what great designers always knew; by designing products and physical spaces to be accessible for those that had most difficulty accessing them, many others would benefit also. So, access ramps initially designed for those in a wheelchair helped many others; they helped the elderly, they helped the injured, they helped the parents of young children for whom the norm was to lift prams and strollers up and down stairs. They helped many others.
Designing this way is referred to as universal design, or accessible design. And we know that its benefits don’t just apply to physical products and spaces, but also to many services; education services included.
For me, this is one of the biggest reasons to applaud the introduction of universal screening for learning difficulties; it represents one of Victoria’s first universal design initiatives in delivering education services. If implemented well, with adequate support provided to schools and teachers, time given to evaluate, report on, and where necessary, take action on the results, universal screening will contribute to some dyslexic students not falling through the cracks in our education system. That’s a win in itself. But, over time, it should also build the capability of schools to respond to the differing learning needs of all students, to further the use of data and evidence in making decisions, to more routinely ask whether something other than cognitive ability is contributing to a student’s slow progress. These things will benefit all students.
We’re still to learn more about how universal screening for learning difficulties is to be implemented, but to the extent SPELD can contribute to it being a long-term success, we will work to do so.
- Jason Henham, SPELD Victoria President.
Dyslexia advocates celebrate a step forward on the path to inclusive schools
Media Release: Dyslexia advocates celebrate a step forward on the path to inclusive schools
23 October 2015
The organisers of Dyslexia Empowerment Week have extra cause to celebrate as the week draws to a close.
Today Minister James Merlino announced new requirements to support all teachers to build their capability to teach students with disabilities. SPELD Victoria welcomes this commitment to build the capacity of all teachers in Victoria to focus on improving teaching and learning strategies for students with disabilities as part of their ongoing professional development. You can read more about that on the VIT website.
This announcement coincides with Dyslexia Empowerment Week which concludes tomorrow. The Week is by the state's peak body for Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities, SPELD Victoria.
SPELD is represented on the VIT Special Needs Plan Review Panel which advised the VIT on the roll out of providing additional guidance and support to schools.
Clare Carmody Chief Executive Officer of SPELD (Specific Learning Difficulties) Victoria says "it is great to see an increased focus on inclusion, and a reinforcing of the existing standards."
"Every teacher, every class in the state of Victoria is likely to have a student with a disability. This is just a recognition that including all learners is an integral, irrefutable part of a teacher’s job description. Inclusion is nonnegotiable. As such, these professionals need to be given support to continuously extend their learning in this area. However, training alone is not the solution. Our professional teachers need to be heard and backed up when they identify the resources they need to support. Professional learning is just one piece of a much bigger puzzle."
"Engaging in learning is a shared responsibility, between students, families and their schools. Dyslexia Empowerment Week celebrates the important role that everyone plays in ensuring that students with Specific Learning Difficulties get the best chance to achieve their potential."
"Teachers and families have long been crying out for more support to identify and respond to the unique needs of students with dyslexia. Professional development in what works is important, so that kids can get timely, targeted reading intervention in early primary and support to learn in a way that suits them throughout their education."
About Dyslexia Empowerment Week
An estimated 3-5% of have a persistent neurologically based Specific Learning Disability (SLD), such as dyslexia. Dyslexia is not an intellectual disability – but children with dyslexia struggle to read and often feel as though they are failing each and every day.
Ensuring that all children are given the opportunity to learn to read is important, as is providing appropriate support and understanding to the one or more students in every Australian classroom with dyslexia. Organisations and volunteers across the Australian SLD community to have banded together create Dyslexia Empowerment Week (DEW), now in its third year. This year DEW is 18 – 24 October 2015 with over 25 events crowd sourced from schools and communities across the nation.
Strategies to help children who have Specific learning disorders
Many children who have a Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) like dyslexia often have other associated issues. For example, about 50% of dyslexics also have dyscalculia. Central Auditory Processing Difficulty (CAPD or APD) is a hallmark characteristic of dyslexia. Children with SLDs also may have issues such as a poor working memory or a slow processing speed. All of these issues combined mean that these children are exhausted at the end of a school day. They are then faced with extra curricula activities (sport, music) and homework. This often results in ‘melt down’.
There are very practical strategies to help them depending if they are in secondary or primary school......
Most secondary school students start a second language in Year 7. As dyslexic students have not mastered their first language, it makes sense for them to drop the second language and use the time in the library doing their homework. Some secondary schools are not happy doing this and should be reminded of their obligation under the law. The Disability Discrimination Act (1992) and the Disability Standards in Education (2005) quite clearly state that an LSD like dyslexia is a disability in law and that ‘reasonable adjustments’ must be made. Dropping a second language is a reasonable adjustment.
The Victorian Parliament’s Education and Training Committee (ETC) held an ‘Inquiry into approaches to homework in Victorian schools’ August 2014. In submissions to the inquiry Prof Hattie stated that homework, in primary school had very little effect. Ann Williams in her submission stated that homework should be differentiated, if given to students who have SLDs like dyslexia, in primary schools. The published inquiry can be downloaded here.
Department of Education and Training (DET).
Many secondary schools in Victoria strongly encourage their students to study a second language. However, we could not find any policy which made this compulsory.
The DET allows each school to make their own, individual policy with regard to homework. A request from a parent for their SLD primary aged child to have no homework or differentiated homework is the decision of the school.
Review of the Program for Students with Disabilities
Families of students with learning disabilities it's time to be heard! The Governments review of the Program for Students with Disabilities
The Victorian Government is currently reviewing the Program for Students with a Disability (PSD). The terms of reference for the review include looking at support for students with dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities (SLDs) through this $480m p/a funding pool.
SPELD Vic has been appointed to the Expert Advisory Panel for the review as well as a focus group panel. We've been consulting with families and working with our teachers and psychologists to make a case for a strengths and needs based, whole classroom approach to supporting the needs of all students. We firmly believe that supporting students with SLDs is great way to lift the performance of struggling students and raise the potential of all students.
More information on the review is available here.
Now it is your turn to share your story. It is really important the Government hear the direct experience of students with SLDs and their families as well as your great ideas about what a fair, efficient and effective system could look like.
There are two ways that you can have your say in the review:
- Tell your story directly to the review team via email
Share the challenges you or your child have faced and what could have helped overcome them. A couple of short paragraphs describing you and your child's experience as well as a few good ideas would be great.
Here are a few questions to consider when responding – but your response can address much more if you want to!
· What are some of the difficulties that you have faced in the schooling system and how do you think these could be addressed?
· Did you have any difficulties accessing the PSD program and was the support adequate?
· What support could help teachers and schools to better meet the needs of students with SLD's?
· How can we ensure that the funding is used appropriately for supporting student outcomes?
You can email the PSD review directly and we'd love it if you cc’s in Clare Carmody, our CEO. The link below includes a cc to Clare, but if you don't feel comfortable passing on your story please delete our email address. All submissions will be treated confidentially.
Click here to make a submission now
2. Online Survey
A second way the Government is seeking your input is by running a survey, hoping to hear from current and previous students, their families, principals, teachers and disability professionals that will ask for your ideas and suggestions on how the PSD can be improved and strengthened.
*The Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) Review survey has been extended to October 16- You can access the survey at:http://survey.confirmit.com/wix/p3075695326.aspx