By: Sarah Cowell Education, Dyslexia & SEN  17/03/2016

EHC ASSESSMENTS, A YEAR ON 'A year on from recording my thoughts on the then soon to be statutory EHC system has its impact been positive or negative?' Hmmm! Well both, which sounds like a cop-out but it's true. Why good? Because, if I write reports including referrals via GPs to refer individuals on to specific specialists it is working and referrals are happening very quickly with very positive results. Why do you think this is the case? GPs look after their patients' health and they are committed, caring individuals who fully appreciate the core necessity of good sight, hearing, and fine and gross muscle control to a child's overall happiness and their ability to interact at school. So if they are given precise details, as included in assessment reports, which may lead to a medical diagnosis, they are very happy to explore the idea. As an assessor I am devoting often three or four hours to assessing a child's academic & cognitive processing skills. This process produces not only empirical evidence but also observation of the individuals' responses across tests which can lead to valuable insight into possible underlying visual or auditory difficulty or motor processing difficulty. At school during a busy school day this type of analysis can't be expected to take place, and teachers assume eye sight or hearing tests will have been done. Teachers today have their work cut-out daily teaching maybe 30 children and coping with all their varying abilities and focusing on teaching them the different school subjects. A holistic interrelated educational-medical approach wasn't really happening. Why are things different now? Now that specific learning difficulties are a recognised aspect of life and there are laws to protect the sufferers' rights, things are slowly changing. And parents realise now that assessment is vitally important in identifying precise difficulties which may be impeding their child's ability to assimilate information at school because they look into the new legislation surrounding specific learning difficulties and realise the new EHC replacing the old statement system integrates health and education and start to understand that if for example their child can't hear very well they will not be able to hear instructions in a large room with 30 children in it and so that should be the starting point, and one thing leads to another. Difficulties identified in my own assessments in the last six months alone have been as simply fixed as an ear being syringed and visual stress requiring coloured lenses to the more profound needs of severe hypermobility requiring, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and specific equipment being installed at the child's school. So what's bad? Prior to this system there were 3 levels of intervention; School Action, School Action Plus and Statements and now it is a less specific situation as schools have been asked to teach all children in a more holistic, multi-sensory way. And as children have to perform at a low level to be recognised as having a specific difficulty, brighter children may be underperforming but still achieve a score within the 16th percentile, which is not considered below average. Very few children are receiving 1- 1 tuition certainly in my county and even a short spell of lessons going back through spelling rules at a pace to suit the individual child can be overtly effective in unlocking their ability to read and write. The future? We'll see with the new administration, watch this space!


Contact Sarah Cowell Education, Dyslexia & SEN


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