Students can go through compulsory education and even halfway through their university journey, not getting the necessary support to succeed because of an undiagnosed specific learning difficulty. This means that students are not achieving the academic grades that they are capable of, and are leaving university with little confidence in themselves and often prematurely.
What are specific learning difficulties?
A specific learning difficulty is a difference/difficulty people have with aspects of learning. These include:
Dyslexia - It primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling.
Dyspraxia - It affects fine and gross motor skills as well as coordination.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - This is a condition that affects people's behaviour. People with ADHD can seem restless, may have trouble concentrating and may act on impulse.
Dyscalculia - This is a condition that affects the ability to acquire mathematical skills.
Dysgraphia - This can appear as difficulties with spelling and/or trouble putting thoughts on paper.
The Current Process -
Usually, a lecturer has to notice a concern, or this is picked up in the literacy and numeracy tasks many of us do within the first few months of joining UCLan. The student then has to make contact with the lnclusive Support team, and they will send the student the QuickScan test. If it flags up indicators of a learning difficulty, the student then must get back in touch with Inclusive Support and ask for the QuickScreen test. Depending on the result, the student will be given a list of reasonable adjustments and a coversheet. The Inclusive Support team will also inform the student of the DSA (Disabled Students' Allowance) process.
Why is this not working?
The whole process relies on the student having the confidence to ask for help. Often, the focus around testing is on undergraduates and not postgraduates who have come to UCLan from other institutions. The DSA process is not a quick system - it can take up to 6 months for students to receive the support that they need. Even two months into the academic year is often too late and the damage to confidence and academic grades is done.
What do we want to change?
We want every student to receive the QuickScan test when they accept their place at UCLan with clear guidance that this is not going to affect their enrolment but is to support them as best as possible.
We want a clear and accessible process of how applications are dealt with once the QuickScan test is completed in order to empower students.
We believe that the Inclusive Support team should be able to contact students to help bridge the gap, ensuring that a student’s lack of confidence does not stop them from accessing support.
Why should you vote for this idea?
In a BBC news article in 2019, schools are failing to diagnose at least 80% of their dyslexic pupils. According to Mencap, there are currently 1.5 million people in the UK who have a Specific Learning Difficulty that have been disclosed and according to Read and Spell, 1 in 6 adults struggle with reading. This means that you or someone on your course, in your friendship group, in your society or sports club will be affected and needs you to care about their success and their confidence.
Let’s support students from the start and vote for this big idea.