Categories
Literacy News

DSF e-alert – Learning Disorders and the NCCD

This DSF e-alert focuses on the NCCD and what it means for students with learning disorders.

Sign up for the AUSPELD/DSF e-alert parent newsletter here

 

Relevant Legislation

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) and the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (DSE) require that all Australian students with disability must be able to access and participate in education on the same basis as their peers. Under the DDA, disability includes:
“A disorder … that results in the person learning differently…”

 

Reasonable Adjustments

Adjustments may be necessary in order to ensure that students with disability have access to education. These adjustments are based on the professional judgements of teachers, in consultation with the student and/or their parents, guardians or carers. Students with learning disorders (including Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and/or Dyscalculia) are eligible for adjustments to ensure they have access to education. Adjustments may include the provision of text-to-speech and speech-to-text assistive technologies, extra time to complete written tasks and/or intensive intervention using a structured and systematic evidence-based program (see below for further information).

Appropriate adjustments for students with Reading Disorders (Dyslexia) can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The NCCD

The Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD) is an annual collection of information about Australian school students who are receiving adjustments due to disability. The data collected from the NCCD is used by teachers and schools to improve understanding and inform planning. Students with a learning disorder who require adjustments in the classroom (as defined according to the DDA) are included in the NCCD.

 

Available Resources

The NCCD website includes information about how the NCCD should be integrated in the continuing process of teaching and learning in school. The website also includes a range of resources and tools to assist teachers and schools in planning and implementing the NCCD. Information about learning differences, learning difficulties, learning disabilities and the NCCD is available here. Another relevant resource is a podcast series featuring students, parents, teachers and experts in specific areas related to the NCCD.DSF CEO Mandy Nayton, OAM, was interviewed recently for the NCCD podcast on Classroom Adjustments: Specific Learning Needs Dyslexia and Classroom Adjustments: Specific Learning Needs Dysgraphia. The podcasts focus on potential educational adjustments that can be made in class for students with learning disorders. To listen to the podcasts, click on the links provided or search for “Classroom Adjustments” in Apple podcasts, SpotifyGoogle podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts to listen via your mobile device.

Appropriate adjustments for students with Written Expression Disorders (Dysgraphia) can be found here.

Categories
Literacy Media Research

An Overview of Structured Synthetic Phonics Program Sequences

The Summer 2018 edition of the DSF Bulletin featured the following article on Structured Synthetic Phonics Program (SSPP) sequences. It details each the phonics sequence of a number of SSPPs, from single letter phoneme-grapheme relationships and digraphs through to the introduction of the alternative spellings in the extended code.

Find this and other articles on the AUSPELD Articles page.

Categories
Literacy News

Revised AUSPELD Understanding Learning Difficulties Guides to be released in January

Cover image for AUSPELDs ULD GuideMany teachers, principals and families will be familiar with the two AUSPELD Understanding Learning Difficulties Guides, originally released in 2016. The teachers’ guide was designed to provide primary and secondary school teachers throughout Australia with a greater awareness and understanding of the significant impact learning disorders can have on students, and to provide information relating to the components of high quality instruction, evidence-based intervention and effective accommodation. The guide for parents was subsequently released and converted to an engaging and informative web-site for those parents keen to access the contents via the internet. This remains available at www.uldforparents.com. We are delighted to announce that a revised version of the Teachers’ Guide and a revised version of the Parents’ Guide will be available in January. These Guides will include updated information and new sections focused on up-to-date research findings and such topics as Developmental Language Disorders and Developmental Coordination Disorders. There is additional information on recommended strategies and programs as well as updated information sheets (on the enclosed CD). The Guides will be valuable resources for teachers and other professionals working with students with learning challenges. To pre-order a copy (or copies) of one or both Guides please complete this form.

Categories
Advocacy Literacy Research

DSF e-Alert – The Importance of Handwriting Instruction

Sign up for the AUSPELD/DSF e-alert parent newsletter

With the increasing use of technology in today’s society, the question arises as to whether we still need to teach handwriting to children.  Research has indicated that there are benefits from handwriting instruction that go beyond learning to write (Dinehart, 2015).  Firstly, there is a strong link between developing motor skills and developing cognitive skills. When children learn to draw letters by hand, their later recognition for those letters is better.  As a result, children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. Learning to form letters activates the neural pathways associated with successful reading, thus handwriting forms an important component of early literacy instruction.

Other research has shown that note-taking with a pen, rather than a laptop, gives students a better grasp of the subject.  While individuals who rely on word processing using a laptop or other device tend to take notes verbatim, those working with pen and paper rephrase and summarise information as they take notes. The process of note-taking with pen and paper encourages deeper processing of the information.

Dr Virginia Berninger, a prominent researcher in the area, promotes teaching children to be ‘hybrid writers’.  This means instruction in print first for reading — it transfers to better word recognition — then cursive for spelling and composing. Touch-typing should ideally be introduced in upper primary according to Dr Berninger.

It is recommended that handwriting instruction is addressed in the following ways:

  • Initially, the sequence of introduction of letter forms should follow the structured synthetic phonics (SSP) program utilised in the classroom. For example, the first eight letter-sound relationships taught in the Letters and Sounds program are s, a, t, p, i, n, m and d. Once every letter of the alphabet has been taught, appropriate letter formation should be reinforced by practising similarly shaped letters together (eg. a, c and d).
  • Handwriting instruction should be part of daily phonics instruction. Integrate handwriting instruction with instruction in letter sounds. Encourage children to say the letter name and sound as they write the letter. An effective way to do this is to follow the procedure outlined in the Letters and Sounds program: 1. Hear the sound (auditory recognition) and say the sound (articulation/pronunciation); 2. See the sound (visual recognition) and say the sound (articulation); 3. Say the sound (articulation) and write the sound (formation).
  • Children should learn a highly consistent way to form a given letter every time they write it. For example, teach children to write the letter b by starting at the top with a vertical stroke, then making the loop to the right without lifting the pencil, rather than having children form the vertical line and the loop in separate strokes.
  • Teachers should accompany handwriting instruction with a letter formation prompt for each letter. These verbal prompts support the specific shapes used in letter formation and act as memory cues. For example, when learning the letter s, move your finger slowly along the snake from its mouth while saying the letter formation prompt: “Round the snake’s head, slide down his back and round his tail.” (Phase Two, Letters and Sounds).
  • Begin by focusing on the learning of the motor pattern rather than perfect legibility or size.
  • Ensure that reversible letters such as b and d are taught separately as children appear less likely to confuse visually similar letters if they have learned one letter of a confusable pair well prior to introduction of the other letter of the pair. Evidence-based SSP programs follow a pre-planned sequence or introduction which separates the teaching of letters which are easily confused due to similarities in formation or articulation.
  • In addition, it can be helpful to teach children to form confusable letters differently; for example, b starts at the top whereas d starts with the loop.
  • Use written arrow cues to help children remember how to form letters and to prevent children from inadvertently practising incorrect letter formation repeatedly.
  • Speed should not be emphasised until children can form letters legibly and from memory.

Handwriting problems often arise from a difficulty in automatically remembering and mastering the sequence movements required in writing letters or numbers.  If left unaddressed, these difficulties can affect a student’s ability to express themselves in writing.  Ongoing difficulties with automatic letter formation often lead to avoidance of writing and therefore reduced practice, which leads to further difficulties.  Explicit handwriting instruction in the early years is therefore key to preventing later difficulties.

References
Berninger, V., Abbott, R.D., Jones, J., Wolf, B.J., Gould, L., Anderson-Youngstrom, M., Shimada, S., & Apel, K. (2006) Early development of language by hand: composing, reading, listening, and speaking connections; three letter-writing modes; and fast mapping in spelling. Developmental Neuropsychology, 29(1), 61–92.Dinehart, L. H. (2015). Handwriting in early childhood education: Current research and future implications. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 15(1), 97–118.Letters and Sounds: Principles and Practice of High Quality Phonics (2007). UK Primary National Strategy, Department for Education and Skills. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/letters-and-sounds

 

Categories
Advocacy Literacy Media News

Congratulations to Jackie French; Senior Australian of the Year for 2015

jackie-frenchAUSPELD extends congratulations and accolades to Jackie French for her well-deserved award of Senior Australian of the Year on Australia Day. Jackie has been a long term supporter of many of the State and Territory SPELDs and has already done so much to encourage and support Australian children and adults with learning difficulties. She is an inspiration to so many, and, as a person who has experienced first-hand the challenges of attending school with dyslexia, is able to speak from the heart about the importance of providing effective support and encouragement to all students.

{gspeech}We look forward to working with Jackie in 2015!{/gspeech}

Categories
Advocacy Literacy News Other

Australian National Curriculum Review and Federal Government’s Response

Earlier this year the Federal Government established a review of the process and development of the Australian National Curriculum.

Professor Ken Wiltshire AO, the J.D.Story Professor of Public Administration and Leader of the Not for Profit Unit at The University of Queensland Business School, along with Dr Kevin Donnelly, Executive Director of the Education Standards Institute and Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University, were appointed to carry out The Review.

The Review of the Australian Curriculum Final Report was released in October 2014 and three weeks later the Initial Response from the Australian Federal Government was also released.

AUSPELD welcomed The Review as it shows encouraging amounts support for the explicit and systematic teaching of phonics when it comes to early literacy. Although the teaching of phonics is already referenced in the Australian National Curriculum; submissions to The Review of the Australian National Curriculum outlined a need to increase the Curriculum’s emphasis and detailed guidance on phonics. As a result The Review noted the following recommendation:

The Australian Curriculum: English should be revised to place greater emphasis on a more structured and systematic phonics and phonemic awareness approach during the early years of reading.

The full Review of the Australian National Curriculum, the Federal Government’s Response to The Review as well as all submissions considered in writing The Review can be downloaded through StudentFirst website. See; http://www.studentsfirst.gov.au/review-australian-curriculum

Categories
Events Literacy

‘Talk for Writing’ with Pie Corbett

AUSPELD 2014 Tour to feature presentations from Pie Corbett…read more

Categories
Events Literacy News

Neil Mackay – International Presenter to Provide Great Opportunity for Teachers and Parents

AUSPELD will be proud to welcome Neil Mackay to Australia for a series of entertaining and educational workshops in 2012.

Neil Mackay is an educational consultant and trainer who created the concept of Dyslexia Friendly Schools in the UK. He is an experienced teacher who has taught for 26 years, working with children of all ages with a wide range of needs and abilities. There will be workshops for teachers in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth as well as parent workshops in some cities (TBA).

2012 Australian Tour Dates and Locations

WHEN

Brisbane – May 28th and 29th (visit www.speld.org.au for further details)

Sydney – June 1st and 2nd (visit www.speldnsw.org.au for further details)

Melbourne – June 6th and 7th (visit www.speldvic.org.au for further details)

Adelaide – June 9th (see http://www.speld-sa.org.au/images/workshops/neil%20mackay%20seminar.pdf)

Perth – June 12th and 13th (visit www.dsf.net.au for further details or register on-line today!)

Neil is known for his ability to bring the classroom into his training and for providing lively, entertaining and thought provoking opportunities for teachers and allied professionals to reflect on and develope their practice. He has written a number of books including the extremly popular Removing Dyslexia as a Barrier to Achievement and Taking the Hell out of Homework. Both books are available though AUSPELD, click here for info.

Click here for more info on Neil Mackay’s australian tour…

 

Categories
Advocacy Literacy News Research

Study into the Early Childhood Development Workforce By the Productivity Commission

SUBMISSION

 

Those in the ECD Workforce play a critically important role in potentially influencing the development of oral language, memory, fine and gross motor skills, pre-literacy and literacy skills of the children with whom they work. High quality, extensive training – detailing the knowledge, skills and understandings relevant to children’s early childhood development is essential. ECD workers need to have a well-developed understanding of the precursors to successful social, emotional and academic development across childhood. AUSPELD provides expert advice in the areas of literacy and learning and therefore comment will be made specifically regarding these key developmental domains.

 

About AUSPELD

 

The Australian Federation of SPELD Associations (AUSPELD) represents all state and territory SPELD Associations. These organisations, in turn, represent and support the many thousands of children and adults struggling with both learning difficulties and disabilities throughout Australia. In addition to providing advocacy and support for individuals with learning difficulties and disabilities, AUSPELD also promotes evidence-based approaches to teaching and learning for all children and adults. Over the last ten years a primary focus of the state SPELDs has been to prevent literacy failure, particularly amongst our most vulnerable children.

 

AUSPELD provides services to a range of professionals including early childhood teachers, education assistants, childcare workers, occupational therapists, speech pathologists and educational psychologists, as well as families and individuals. Through its state-based members, AUSPELD responds to in excess of 1,000 calls per week from community members and to a similar number of requests for information and support via email and website contact. State SPELDs also provides training, resources and support to over 30,000 teachers, principals and allied professionals working in schools and other organisations throughout Australia each year.

 

AUSPELD contributes to state and federal inquiries, forums and government departments on a wide range of issues related to improving literacy outcomes. AUSPELD is well-positioned to comment on the role of the ECD workforce on the development of children’s literacy skills. This submission will focus on the need to improve training in pre- and early literacy acquisition for ECD workers, the importance of an integrated approach to literacy and learning across early childhood service providers, and ways to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of the ECD workforce.

RELEVANT TERMS OF REFERENCE

 

The Early Childhood Development Workforce and The Schooling Workforce

 

1. Factors affecting the current and future demand and supply for the ECD workforce, and the required mix of skills and knowledge, including:

 

(a) Delivery of fully integrated ECD services including maternal and child health, childcare, preschool, family support services and services for those with additional needs.

 

Perhaps one of the most effective ways that the poverty cycle can be broken is through education and children are most likely to achieve educational success if they become literate. The protective factors and risk factors for literacy success or failure are established in the early years and there are a range of ECD workers who, with appropriate training, could ensure that children developed the pre-literacy skills necessary for literacy success.

The Early Years Learning Framework – “Educators: Belonging, Being and Becoming” – published and distributed by DEEWR in 2010 provided a valuable framework for discussion and planning for members of the ECD workforce.  It was not (and did not pretend to be) a curriculum, syllabus or overview of the skills, knowledge and understandings that children need to acquire during the early years; or professional and strategic advice on how best these skills should be taught. In the past decade a great deal has been written, and there has been numerous international inquiries (NRP, Rose Report, Nelson, etc), clearly outlining the components of appropriate pre- and early literacy skill development and what needs to be provided to young children to ensure that their early language and literacy skills develop effectively. Unfortunately, very little of this information is ever provided directly and succinctly to members of the ECD workforce. Many ECD workers report a lack of confidence with respect to their ability to provide sound learning experiences to children to target the development of their early reading and writing skills and this is simply because they have not been provided with the appropriate skills.

 

Research suggests that children who become successful readers and writers are those who have been exposed to a language-rich environment in their early years. Children who are not provided with explicit instruction in vocabulary (building knowledge and understanding of words) and phonological awareness (the ability to distinguish and manipulate the sounds in spoken words) are at a significantly increased risk of struggling with literacy acquisition throughout their schooling. All children, but particularly, those children at greatest risk, require robust instruction in vocabulary, language comprehension and phonological awareness. They also require explicit, intentional, multi-sensory, systematic teaching of foundation-level literacy skills (such as a structured synthetic phonics program) from pre-primary (age 5 years).

 

There is strong evidence to show that there is a vast divide between the language experiences of children from different socioeconomic levels, and that these differences place children from low SES backgrounds at increased risk of academic and social difficulties. Graves and Slater (1987) found that year 1 students from high SES backgrounds had approximately double the vocabulary size of students from low SES backgrounds. Hart and Risley (1995) showed that not only do children from low SES backgrounds have reduced vocabularies; they are exposed to much fewer positive verbal interactions than children from high SES backgrounds.

 

The ECD Workforce has the opportunity to affect the volume and quality of oral language input children receive through the education of parents (by encouraging positive and appropriate parent-child interactions), and by intentional teaching of children. In order for parents to be provided with accurate and evidence-based information (including games, strategies, songs, etc) regarding language development, it is essential that the members of the ECD Workforce providing this information be well-informed.

 

Over the past thirty years the prevailing ideology in early childhood education and care has been that children learn best through play. This has therefore influenced not only policy and practice, but the development of resources, the physical layout of early childhood environments and the response to the needs of children demonstrating developmental delays. Obviously, the inclusion of play in early childhood centres is essential but for children with developmental disabilities, the lack of structure and the lack of intentional teaching have often added to their difficulties.  The fact that ECD staff have often not been trained in delivering programs that are more structured, sequential, intentional and responsive also means that when asked to do so, they feel both out of their depth and also uncomfortable from a philosophical point of view.

 

(c) The availability and quality of pre-service education programs, including through undergraduate and postgraduate education and VET, and consideration of training pathways.

 

AUSPELD is an expert provider of literacy training to educational institutions. It is our observation through providing professional learning sessions to school staff that many teachers and support staff lack confidence with respect to their ability to teach literacy skills. As indicated earlier in this submission, there remains a very strong focus on play-based learning in early childhood education and child-care facilities throughout Australia. This is promoted to the exclusion of other approaches and fails to acknowledge the wealth of research evidence that suggests that those children considered to be at greatest risk do not respond well to unstructured, open-ended tasks.  These children fall further behind their peers, become disenchanted with school and frequently display behaviour problems. Current pre-service education programs largely advocate for play-based, student-directed methods to the exclusion of any form of structured learning. As such, many teachers enter the workforce with little understanding of the science behind reading development and the strategies necessary to build strong literacy skills in their young students.

There is overwhelming support – both from current academic research and from practice – to support the view that all children benefit from teaching that is explicit, structured, sequential and multi-sensory. Pre-service training for ECD workers (especially teachers and teacher assistants) should focus on these key components in addition to the critical elements of effective reading instruction (Rose Report, 2006) which includes:

•      explicit and systematic phonemic awareness instruction

•      systematically sequenced phonics instruction

•      guided  and repeated oral reading with appropriate error correction and feedback to improve reading fluency

•      direct instruction in vocabulary and reading comprehension strategies

 

It is our hope that the inclusion of explicit skill teaching in the early years will help to prevent the high (52%) level of functional literacy problems currently experienced by Australia’s 15 to 19 year olds (ABS data, 2006).

 

 

 

We would be happy to address any of our comments in greater detail or respond to any queries from the Commissioners. Thank you.

 

Signed

 

 

 

 

Mandy Nayton

President

AUSPELD

30 January 2011

Categories
Advocacy Literacy Media News

Education Disability Standards Review Underway

MEDIA RELEASE –  15 February, 2011

The Gillard Labor Government is taking action to help remove barriers to educational achievement, with a review of Disability Standards for Education.

Minister for School Education Peter Garrett said recent figures show the numbers of funded school students with disability increased by more than 20 per cent in the four years from 2005 to 2009.

“Today I’m releasing a discussion paper inviting submissions to the Review, in a move to help ensure a more inclusive Australian society which enables people with disability to achieve their full potential,” Mr Garrett said.

“The Disability Standards for Education have been in place for five years and it’s time we looked at their effectiveness in giving those with disability every opportunity to succeed in the education system.

“School students with disability have steadily increased as a percentage of the total school population. In 2009 there were over 164,000 students with disabilities in Australian schools that received support by education authorities.

“It is central to Federal Labor’s belief that all students, regardless of their personal or social situations, have access to the very best education we can provide so that they can pursue their life’s aspirations to the fullest.

“This discussion paper will help us determine how effective the Disability Standards for Education are in practice and whether they need to be amended.

“I encourage people with an interest in improving the education and training experience for people with disability to make a submission to the Review.”

Senator McLucas welcomed the review of the standards.

“People with disability deserve the same opportunities as other Australians in their local community,” Ms McLucas said.

“The Disability Standards for Education help to ensure that people with disability enjoy the benefits of education and training.”

The Standards are designed to assist people with disability to access and participate in education and training opportunities and help eliminate discrimination in education and training.

The Standards also clarify the rights of students and the obligations of education providers, pre-school, school and tertiary, under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

The Australian Government is also conducting a broader Review of Funding for Schooling, which is examining all funding to all schools including funding allocations to ensure students with disability can access a quality education.

Information on the review, including the discussion paper, is available at www.deewr.gov.au/DSEReview .

As part of the review process, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations will conduct face-to-face consultations with stakeholders in each capital city.

In addition, the department will engage in a series of broader consultations with schools-focused disability organisations on education issues affecting school students with disability.

THE HON PETER GARRETT MP

Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth

SENATOR THE HON JAN MCLUCAS

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers

 

Minister Garrett’s Media Contact: Cameron Scott 0448 346 942

Senator McLucas’ Media Contact: Belinda Featherstone 0408 743 457

DEEWR Media: media@deewr.gov.au

Non-media queries: 1300 363 079