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.
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.
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.
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
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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,