Hello Everyone, and once again here is our annual catch up on developments within DEX. Our next AGM is at 11.00 on Saturday 22nd October 2011 and anyone interested in our aims can come along— just let us know to expect you. It will be held at the Deaf Centre in Wakefield (same address as ours). We welcome people, deaf or not, to observe at our committee meetings held 4 times a year usually at this address, but if you are wanting to come please contact us as we sometimes meet elsewhere. Our last meeting was in Coventry on 9th July which is convenient for a couple of our members
Val Pratt has recently had to resign from the Committee and we thank her for her contribution and continuing support.
Khalid Ashraf and Richard France joined us last year.
DEX has continued with our campaigning focus on BSL. We are a member of the Steering Group for the I-Sign project in the Department for Education. The I-Sign project began in April 2009 and concluded in March 2011. The aims and outcomes were to :
- Develop Family Sign Language curriculum via website and courses
- Investigate an Education Communication Support Worker qualification
- Map a BSL Ladder of Learning, and consider how to maintain this BSL qualifications map
- Develop a UCLan teacher training course for BSL Tutors
- Consider Interpreter training provision
- Test Continuing Professional Development (CPD) peer support hubs for children’s workforce
It was evaluated by the University of Bristol’s Centre for Deaf Studies
The I-Sign managers’ recommendations are that the DfE “explores with I-Sign the setting up of a nationally funded resource to support the minimum standard of delivery of language support and best practice with families and professionals, to act as the support and catalyst for the development of local capacity, and also to support the training and advice to parents and professionals.” This would become self-supporting eventually. This recommendation is the same as DEX’s campaign for a BSL Board, although DEX would like to see Centres of Excellence (CEs) to ensure local development as well. There has been a lengthy and ongoing communication with the Minister for Children about the Coalitions’ concept of the Big Society and our Framework for Action
The final report has not been published and DEX aims to be involved in further discussions with the DfE about the project’s recommendations.
SEN Green Paper consultation.
We were asked by DfE and Sarah Teather, the Children’s Minister, to contribute to the consultation on the Special Educational Needs Green Paper. The following is our response concerning the barriers to specialist academies becoming centres of excellence and specialist expertise that serve a wider, regional community.
If specialist academies are new schools then they are unlikely to have the skills or capacity to be CEs until such time they have gathered this expertise. This would mean schools and support services with SEN and disability access experience should liaise closely with academies.
Research into academies by Stephen Machin and James Vernoit of London School of Economics, found Labour’s Academies not only improved their own performance, but also raised standards in neighbouring schools. The ethos of sharing school facilities and expertise with the wider community should be an examplar for CEs to model themselves, in order to ensure bilingual skills are passed on to resourced and special schools for deaf children.
The government’s lack of understanding, or will to heed deaf users’ views has been a major barrier to DEX’s Framework for Action, which focuses on CEs and a coordinating board. Since 2004 DEX has promoted the concept of Centres of Excellence to serve a wider, regional community, but this has now been interpreted by the current Secretary of State as non-localised service (which is seen to be counter to the coalition’s Locality agenda).
UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability
DEX’s evidence and DEX’s Shadow Report
DEX went to the Department of Works and Pension’s Office for Disability Issues to give evidence for its Report to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability, which is due this summer. She explained about the I-Sign project and learnt that the DWP regard the government’s action on the Convention regarding the promotion of sign language is “thin”. She asked DEX to do its own Shadow Report and submit it to the UN Committee. If the Committee considers there is enough evidence it may ask DEX for more information.We have completed and submitted our Shadow Report and await further developments with interest. We understand the UNCRPD Committee’s report to the UK Government will be ready in 2014.