Dyslexia Adult Network News: No 7 Spring 2018

Dyslexia Adult Network (DAN) Logo

Website www.dan-uk.co.uk                      Twitter @DyslexiaAdult

Email via website www.dan.co.uk

OR join our jiscmail list www.jiscmail.ac.uk/dyslexia-adult-network-dan

THIS 7th EDITION OF NETWORK NEWS COVERS

Message from the Chair

  1. Report on the Westminster AchieveAbility Commission on Recruitment
  2. DYSPLA film festival showcases ND
  3. Access to Work training & Disability Confident update
  4. NEWS from our member organisations
  5. All Party Parliamentary Groups
  6. Labour Party Manifesto on Autism/ND
  7. Justice Matters

Greetings to all our readers!

As you will see in this edition, our member organisations are working intensively to raise the issues of dyslexia, and related Neurodiversity, for adults. We share and collaborate on these activities to create a greater impact overall for our agreed messages.

Meanwhile, though it is frustrating that progress is so slow, there are significant signs of achievement this year. Recognition that Neurodiversity is a key issue by the HR profession is something I have been working on for over a decade; this has now begun and the WAC report has done much to raise awareness.

DAN continues to be persistent and determined to achieve positive change. We have come a long way in the five years we have been meeting.

We will continue to try and meet with the new Minister for Disabled People; so far I have been offered the possibility of meeting her civil servants and am following this up.

The DAN steering group meets next on June 5th.

Margaret Malpas, Chair of DAN

1. Report on the Westminster AchieveAbility Commission on ND & Recruitment Katherine Hewlett

January 22nd was a big day – the formal launch of Neurodiverse Voices: Opening Doors to Employment,  the report of the Westminster AchieveAbility Commission (WAC) on Recruitment.  Our focus now shifts to promoting the Recommendations .

But first, some background..…..

Why was the Commission needed?

  • To investigate the barriers to employment
  • To identify good and bad practice in recruitment
  • To help inform the government target of one million disabled people into employment by 2020.

Who contributed to the Report?

The Report was based on evidence gathered from four face-to-face evidence sessions at the House of Commons (40 people in all); these comprised

  • The Experts (AGAS- BDA – Microlink)
  • The Employers (BBC- TFL-T.Rowe Price- Exceptional individuals- Key4Learning)
  • The Neurodiverse Voice
  • The DWP (Access to Work)

Two surveys were circulated over three months during the 2016-2017 period

  • The ND survey returned over 600 responses
  • The employers survey returned 30 responses

In addition, six detailed written submissions were requested and received.

All the material was then analysed in order to identify major issues and formulate recommendations. The Report was written by  Katherine Hewlett , Ross Cooper and Melanie Jameson with design work by Kendall Bickford.

The launch

There were two major events during the launch week of 22-27 January, backed up by a media and social media campaign.

Monday 22 January The formal release of the embargoed report took place in the House of Commons, hosted by Barry Sheerman MP. Over 50 people attended this event, drawn from the adult education sector, the workplace, training, political think tanks and those who have expertise in the area of Neurodiversity.

Key areas of the WAC report were presented and WAC Adviser, Lord Addington, summed up by stating ‘Neurodiversity is part of our society and Neurodivergence is part of the work place’

Thursday 25 January  “A celebration of Neurodiverse Voices: Opening Doors to Employment” was held in the Jubilee Room at Westminster Palace. Over 50 people heard the following programme of speakers:

Advantages of Neurodivergence

Denise MacGuire (President of Prospect Union) on neurodiversity

Matt Boyd (CEO Exceptional Individuals)  and Nat Hawley on the advantages of employing a neurodiverse person

Creative Skills in practice

Jon Adams (Democracy Street) shared his disability arts projects

Lennie Varvarides (DYSPLA) profiled an upcoming film festival   SEE page 4

Active networking and support

Atif Choudhury & Adam Hyland (DnA -Diversity and Ability Ltd) on their inclusive approach to support

Kelly Kinsella  (STEM) on dyslexia networking within the Civil Service

Following up the WAC recommendations:

A guide from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)  Neurodiversity at Work, will enable HR professionals to learn more about Neurodiversity which should relate both to the hiring process and to support of ND staff so that they can achieve their potential.

This goes some way towards fulfilling Recommendation One of the WAC Report, on awareness raising / awareness training programmes.

www.cipd.co.uk/Images/neurodiversity-at-work_2018_tcm18-37852.pdf

We are now asking that the CIPD and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) link up to devise training programmes to ensure greater awareness of Neurodiversity to organisations and government offices. These training programmes will inform a DWP good practice guide to recruitment (Recommendation Two) by building on the existing DWP toolkit: www.autismandneurodiversitytoolkit.org

Recommendation Seven – Reasonable Adjustments

Two publications feed into this important recommendation:

Firstly, Making A Shift  (Arts Council England) regarding the representation of disabled and neurodivergent people in the cultural sector workforce.

www.artscouncil.org.uk/publication/making-a-shift Thanks to Becki Morris for sharing this.

Secondly, an article within Vol 30 of the journal of the British Psychological Society:

Re-enabling the Neurodiverse,  within the context of The Changing Workplace;

https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-30/november-2017/changing-workplace

In addition, we note that this is the focus of the APPG on Dyslexia and Other Specific Learning Difficulties, to be held on  13 June, 2-4pm.

As a priority, WAC is urgently calling for action to stop the spiral of poverty; this is encapsulated within Recommendation Three – JobCentre Plus

There must be an end to sanctioning of neurodivergent customers for failure to submit paperwork/on-line documentation within a short time-frame and without appropriate support.

We also recommend staff awareness training in neurodivergence, better assessment processes and support for those choosing self-employment.

NEXT MOVES: WAC Lobbying work:

1) Dissemination to MPs, mid-May

A copy of Neurodiverse Voices: Opening Doors to Employment will be dispatched to MPs, accompanied by an official letter from the WAC Chair, Barry Sheerman MP.

In it, Barry highlights key issues identified by the evidence-gathering process:

‘The Commission found that:

  • The experience is even worse than we thought
  • We are wasting talent
  • We need better measurement of job skills and abilities
  • Selection processes evaluate how neurotypical the candidate is, rather than how suitable they are for the job
  • We need more proactive change supported by implementation of legislation’

The letter concludes

‘Since dyslexic people and those who are neurodivergent represent the highest percentage of adults who are disabled, this Commission report is vital in order to represent the issues for this community, as well as revealing their value and strengths within the workplace.’

2) A call to contact your MP

We are urging colleagues and supporters to lobby on one of the recommendations by contacting their local MP and asking him/her to ask a Parliamentary question in the House.
Guidance on composing a letter is given on the Quaker website: https://quaker-prod.s3-eu-west-.amazonaws.com/store/e44ba8aa6b9238ec8ef738dddf70d010e0a5b7b3172e3daca92ef21144aa

3) Engage with the All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs)

Find out about and engage with the Disability APPG or the Dyslexia APPG by lobbying on the WAC Report recommendations.  The best way to do this is via the Secretariat, held respectively by Disability Rights UK (appgsecretariat@disabilityrightsuk.org) and British Dyslexia Association (contact suef@bdadyslexia.org.uk ).

————————————————————————–

 2. DYSPLA Film Festival showcases ND talent Becki Morris

I recently attended an International Film Festival by DYSPLA.  The Festival is the first of its kind to celebrate dyslexic and other neurodivergent filmmakers and a great opportunity to see their work.

DYSPLA describes its focus as “the innovative moving image to define dyslexic and neurodiverse aesthetic. We aim to explore ideas of how dyslexic and neurodiverse individuals experience and exhibit the world, and also address ideas of societal reform. Tackling the conventions surrounding neurodiversity and magnifying the benefits within the creative sector.”

The event was held at the Crypt near Euston Station in London. Attendees entered the installations to the sound of ‘Cadillac of the Skies’ by John Williams from Steven Spielberg’s film ‘Empire of the Sun’. The music was then accompanied by a caption ‘Steven Spielberg, Dyslexic Filmmaker’.  This was a great choice to evoke a sense of positive recognition of dyslexia before entering to see the selection of work.  There was a warm welcome to the event with plenty of opportunity to celebrate what it is to be dyslexic and neurodivergent. An important message was how many films were about social impact in relation to events such as Hillsborough and Immigration; these productions were very different in approach but clear and evocative as regarded their message.

DYSPLA offer workshops, information and meet-up opportunities for neurodivergent people working in film, for further information follow their twitter account @Dyspla_Festival  and join their Facebook group (Dyspla Festival).

https://dyspla.com/DYSPLA-INTERNATIONAL-MOVING-IMAGE-FESTIVAL_event

3WORKING WITH GOVERNMENT Melanie Jameson

DAN training for Access to Work (AtW) www.gov.uk/access-to-work

After many email exchanges and organisation, two free face-to-face training sessions (March 15 & 16) were provided for the AtW Hidden Impairments Team in Halifax.  I undertook to deliver these.

I was surprised to discover that these Advisers, despite being part of a dedicated team, appeared to receive little or no formal training on ‘Hidden Impairments’ (I cannot comment on their other remit: mental health needs). Basic questions arose such as what Dyspraxia was and the characteristics of ADHD. Furthermore, despite assurances that the Hidden Impairment Toolkit had been produced primarily for this team, it turned out that they were not regularly consulting it and some of them did not know if its availability.

So, a session that was carefully planned as higher level CPD for a team already trained and working in our area and using a dedicated Toolkit became a basic session on the impact of neurodivergence in the workplace and an introduction to the Toolkit. Advisers would not share their procedures and were very reluctant to engage with case studies.

On my return I edited my handouts as stand-alone resources which were supplied, along with powerpoint slides and a resource which DAN drafted several years ago: a guided telephone interview to take Advisers through a conversation with ND clients.

DAN is still campaigning on two unresolved matters:

– the issue of (sometimes) being asked to produce ‘medical evidence’ of dyslexia – or to go to HR to organise a diagnostic assessment (!)

– the anonymity of workplace-needs reports; this appears to be led neither by the contractors (RBLI) nor by AtW as new official policy.

We are also trying to ascertain whether there is a consistent approach to AtW renewal.

Finally, the British Dyslexia Association has made an e-learning course available which we are offering to the AtW Centres in Harrow and Basildon and also to Jobcentre Plus.

Update on Disability Confident  www.disabilityconfident.campaign.gov.uk 

DAN maintains good contact with the senior civil servant now directing much of the Disability Confident agenda. However we differ with her concerning the monitoring of organisations which opt for one of the three levels of 1. Disability Confident committed employer, 2. Disability Confident employer, and 3. Disability Confident leader.

Funding is available to augment Disability Confident over the next 5 years.

We can report that the Post Office has signed up at the highest level and will therefore need external accreditation from a disability support organisation.

Please contact me (mj@dyslexia-malvern.co.uk) if you have any information on, or experience of, this monitoring process.

Remploy was one of the companies engaging in a two week programme of events, webinars and dial-in’s, sharing best practice on managing disabled people, with a particular focus on Reasonable Adjustments. Their website includes information on Adjustments, Access to Work and engaging with Disability Confident.

See www.remploy.co.uk/disability-confident

DAN seeks current information on the Work & Health Innovation Fund

Is this being drawn down to forward the ‘Improving Lives’ agenda?

  1. 4. NEWS FROM OUR MEMBER ORGANISATIONS

DYSLEXIA SCOTLAND                                             Cathy Magee

Dyslexia Scotland has been very busy on a number of initiatives:

Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice training modules

3 free online Open University training modules were developed in 2017/18 for teachers on Dyslexia and inclusive practice.

Dyslexia Scotland, Education Scotland and the CLD Standards Council tailored the first module for Community Learning and Development practitioners. This module was launched at the CLD Standards Council conference in Dundee on 29 March 2018.

Fair Start Scotland

Dyslexia Scotland has been approved as a specialist provider for Forth Valley area in the delivery of Fair Start Scotland.

Fair Start Scotland is the new employment support service for Scotland. There are lots of people who want to work but find it hard to find the right job that meets their needs and is flexible enough for their circumstances. The programme is voluntary, and is based on key values of fairness, equality, dignity and respect.

Creative Dyslexic Network

Over the last year, around one third of referrals to our Employment Service were arts graduates and aspiring working creatives, all experiencing the same difficulties: struggling to access paid work in their preferred field; struggling to access general paid work, difficulty accessing funding and feeling isolated.

We held a free event in March 2018 for dyslexic adults developing their career in the creative sector to meet others, learn useful strategies and tap in to supports and resources to help their career. 15 individuals attended from visual arts, writing, arts education, media and environmental arts fields. 90% said the event was overall useful for them and 91% of participants said they would attend another Creative Dyslexic Network event in future.

Investors in Volunteers Award

We are very pleased to announce that we have achieved the Investing in Volunteers Award. Investing in Volunteers is the UK quality standard for all organisations involving volunteers. It aims to improve the quality of the volunteering experience for all volunteers and for organisations to acknowledge the enormous contribution made by volunteers. Investing in Volunteers Award demonstrates best practice in volunteer management.

Full information on www.dyslexiascotland.org.uk

 

———————————————————————————-

British Dyslexia Association (BDA)                                 Margaret Malpas

Toolkit for Dyslexia Networks

In conjunction with a group of adults with dyslexia, BDA has launched a free Toolkit for Dyslexia Networking Groups.

www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/dyslexic/additional-resources

Neuro-Diversity in the Workplace

The BDA is running a one day conference on this topic on Thursday, 28 June  (09:30 to 16:00). Speakers include Margaret Malpas of the BDA, and Katherine Hewlett from Achievability, presenting on the WAC Report on ND and Recruitment.

Venue:  the Building Research Establishment Watford  Cost £35 http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/events/view/name/promoting-neurodiversity-in-the-workplace-networking-for-success

Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital Trust sign up to Quality Mark

This Trust employs over 13,000 staff and also deals with many patients who may be Neurodiverse. BDA has been working with them since 2014, to promote awareness;

This included providing training for dyslexic staff who started an internal network and ran (voluntarily) an information desk in the main foyer for staff and patients during Dyslexia Awareness Week.

We are delighted that the Trust has now joined our Dyslexia Quality Mark Scheme. Under this scheme, organisations work through a process of identification, implementation and verification for policy, communications, and management practices to ensure that they are truly dyslexia-friendly. When these elements are all established and verified, the BDA can award the coveted Quality Mark.

BDA International Conference

The 11th BDA International Conference was held in April at the Telford Conference Centre. There was a specific focus given to issues for adults on the final day. The keynote session was given by Prof Amanda Kirby who provided an overview to key issues, covering both academic studies and  practical matters. Further presentations included Katherine Hewlett on the findings of the WAC Report, Prof D McLoughlin and Carol Leather. Blace Nalavany and Julie Logan shared their research on links between non-disclosure of dyslexia, self-esteem, stress and lower levels of  happiness at work.

Margaret Malpas presented on success factors and how creativity is a strength for many dyslexic adults, Margaret Rooke spoke about her two books with witness accounts from dyslexic adults and children, and Janette Beetham presented on how Dyslexia Champions had a positive effect on self-esteem in dyslexic adults.

www.bdadyslexia.org.uk

———————————————————————————-

30th ANNIVERSARY OF THE DYSPRAXIA FOUNDATION

Richard Todd and Eleanor Howes

This is a special year for the Dyspraxia Foundation (DF). We have just launched our new Guidelines for Employees as part of our 30th Anniversary events to secure corporate supporters and launch a 30 year appeal.  A digital copy will shortly be added to the DF website.

Our 30th Anniversary Conference, London,  23rd June, will include sessions on dyspraxia in adulthood, namely the lived experience of our newly appointed Adult Representative and further dissemination of Opening doors to Employment.

For more information and to book online go to:  https://dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/30th-anniversary-conference-london-june-2018/

We intend to follow this up with a dedicated full day for dyspraxia in adults at a later date,  and shall also update our Guidelines for Employers.

For details of all events and initiatives, see www.dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk

———————————————————————————-

AchieveAbility                                                   Katherine Hewlett

In addition to promoting the recommendations of the WAC Report, AchieveAbility is busy with two projects

1) The REFUND project

AchieveAbility is starting to work with St Mungos, to provide digital opportunities for staff and their clients, (who are in recovery).  Research has shown that there is a high incidence of self-medication and homelessness for people who are Neurodivergent (Disability Today 2014). AchieveAbility proposes to run a series of Digital skill development workshops for St Mungo’s clients who are neurodivergent at their Recovery College.

These workshops will be centred around developing skills in the following areas: Digital Communication, Social Media, Visuals, Written Word on IT, How to search for work, Using assistive Technology and Personal Development Skills. These programmes will be embedded in St Mungo’s Digital Plan to create pathways into employment through three Tiers of Digital Programmes.

Tier system Source James Carroll  (Digital Recovery Coordinator,  St Mungos)

Tier 1 will focus on developing fundamental IT and Digital skills

Tier 2 will focus on developing skills in key digital areas

Tier 3 will focus on developing employability skills in Digital Technology

AchieveAbility will integrate their workshops in all Tiers.

2) Next Step Programme (up-skilling into work)

AchieveAbility obtained £9,000 from the Big Lottery Fund for Waltham Forest Dyslexia Association to provide the Next Step Programme in three stages: Stage 1, Adult meet ups;  Stage 2, basic literacy and numeracy and Stage 3, the now established Next Step course for dyslexic adults who wish to up-skill or return to the workplace.

Stage 2 is now being delivered in partnership with the Peabody Trust as from May 2018.

www.achieveability.org.uk

———————————————————————————-

DAN Communications Officer / the Disability Co-operative Network

Becki Morris

New virtual online network for Neurodivergent Museum Professionals

The Disability Co-Operative Network (DCN) has recently launched a brand new virtual online network for advocates, researchers and people with neurodivergent profiles within the Heritage Sector.  The aim of the Network is to connect people and organisations across disciplines with channels of communication to raise the profile of Access to Work within the sector, and to encourage feedback via the Dyslexic Adult Network to DWP.  The Network champions neurodivergent profiles in the workplace and in the wider society.

The research element of this initiative  will enable the sharing and development of good practice within the sector, also influencing other sectors in the process. The Network has links with a sister network group in the United States which is useful for a comparison and advocacy in the U.S.

If you are interested in joining the group or further information do email Becki Morris via info@musedcn.org.uk

https://www.musedcn.org.uk/ includes several items relating to dyslexia/neurodiversity.

 


5. WORKING WITH ALL-PARTY PARLIAMENTARY GROUPS

A number of All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs), with relevance to DAN’s areas of work have met, since the last Network News edition.

APPG on Apprenticeships (young people up to age 25).

It was established that young people with an Education Health & Care Plan (ECHP) are exempt from requiring GCSEs in English and Maths to progress to an Apprenticeship. BUT this support is rare for those with dyslexia/ND, so more campaigning is necessary to secure this accommodation.

APPG on Health & Well-being in the Workplace

Nancy Doyle launched her Report Psychology at Work: Improving Well-being and Productivity in the Workplace. This guide for policy makers can be found from the link

https://www.bps.org.uk/news-and-policy/psychology-work-improving-wellbeing-and-productivity-workplace

APPG on Disabilities (next meeting May 23rd  3 – 4.30)

Participants were given an overview of the Improving Lives agenda on work, health and disability, www.gov.uk/government/consultations/work-health-and-disability-improving-lives/work-health-and-disability-green-paper-improving-lives#executive-summary

with its ten year aim of 1million people with disabilities/health conditions getting into work. Transport to work for this population had to be tackled.

The Accessibility Bill going through the House of Lords was questioned.

While ‘ethnicity’ and ‘gender’ are high on the agenda, ‘disability’ should be included as the third vital factor.  Local champions are sought, alongside employers who are asked to pledge jobs on-line – the latter initiative was to be launched on March 20.

This APPG hosted by Disability Rights UK: appgsecretariat@disabilityrightsuk.org

APPG on Assistive Technology (APPGAT)

The focus of the January session was an Inclusive learning environment in HE, referred to as ‘The Sticky Campus’. One of the presenters, Alistair McNaught, commented: “Inaccessible is inexcusable”. A video message from the Minister for Disabled People, Sarah Newton called for leaders in the sector to drive improvements and calling for Disability Business Champions.

www.policyconnect.org.uk/appgat/news/sticky-campus-inclusive-high-tech-learning-environment

Robert McLaren, the convenor, encourages us to sign up for the APPGAT newsletter

http://www.policyconnect.org.uk/appgat/newsletter-signup

Forthcoming APPG on Dyslexia and Other Specific Learning Difficulties

The next APPG will be held on the 13 June 2018, 2-4pm with an adult focus.

Sharon Hodgson MP, APPG Chair, has already circulated an email to prospective attendees stating that the meeting will focus on exploring how reasonable adjustments can level the playing field for adults with specific learning difficulties in the workplace.

The Secretariat for this APPG is now provided by the BDA. Presenters will include a senior manager from DWP to answer concerns about schemes such as PIP and Access to Work. Please contact suef@bdadyslexia.org.uk to request an invitation, if you wish to attend this APPG.


6. LABOUR PARTY MANIFESTO ON  AUTISM / NEURODIVERSITY John Timms, Prospect Union

Having taken part in discussions within the Prospect Neurodiversity Working Group, I conclude that this initiative is worthy of support.

The first two key principles (there are five in all) are as follows:

  • The social model of disability: Disability is caused by society creating barriers to the equal participation of impaired (or neurologically different) people.
  • The neurodiversity approach: Humanity is neurologically diverse; people have different brain wiring. ADHD, dyslexia, autism and others are neurological differences. We want human neurodiversity to be accepted, not suppressed or cured.

The Manifesto title reveals that activists for autism have been a major driving-force to get this on the Labour Party agenda; this is reflected in the title and content. Once the ‘Neurodiverse profile prevalence figures’ are added to the website, it will be more obvious that there are a lot more people in total who are dyslexic, dyspraxic, ADHD etc.

The recent Westminster AchieveAbility report Opening Doors to Employment  highlighted the overlap between dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism etc. and made it clear that many of the barriers were the same, irrespective of which label(s) an individual had. This implies that it is in the interest of neurodivergent people, regardless of label, to cooperate with each other to challenge the barriers they face in common. The report clearly identifies some of the significant barriers, and makes recommendations for overcoming them. There is scope for lobbying here.

I encourage readers of Network News to read, comment and show support where they agree, but also perhaps suggest that the title of the manifesto should be amended to include dyslexia and other differences.

The manifesto can be found here https://neurodiversitymanifesto.com/  with links to related information https://www.facebook.com/pg/LPANDmanifesto/posts/ and https://theclarionmag.org/2018/03/07/motion-for-march-april-2018-labour-autism-neurodiversity-manifesto/

7. JUSTICE MATTERS

1) Employment Tribunals

Numbers of claims to Employment Tribunals are on the rise again now that charges can no longer be made, following last year’s challenge by Unison. There had been a 70% drop in cases but these are now on the rise again.

DAN is still waiting to hear of anyone who has had their fees returned.

Current levels are more or less at the pre-fee  rate. 43 disability cases have proceeded to decisions over the last year including 33 cases where dyslexia is mentioned.

In general, dyslexia is being accepted as a disability for legal purposes, though not many of the cases rely on dyslexia as the primary disability. The failure of many claims is put down, in part, to technical failures such as being out of time.

An Employment Tribunal judgment, given on 3 Nov 2017, found for the claimant Ms Rooney against her employer, Captivate Presentations Ltd. The judgement stated:

  1. The claimant is disabled within the meaning of section 6 of the Equality Act

 2010 and was dismissed and was therefore treated unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of her disability, which relates to her arthritis and dyslexia.

  1. The respondent company did not put in place reasonable adjustments.

The claimant was awarded  £11k in damages and lost earnings.

2) ‘Learning Difficulties’ in the prison population

A vast tendering exercise is now underway to commission all aspects of prison education, laid out in the numerous Schedules of the Prison Education Framework (PEF). One of these, C16, is of particular interest since it concerns Learning Difficulties and/or Disabilities.  Neisha Betts (my Learning Disabilities counterpart) and I have worked hard to get the work ‘Specific’ included in the initial definitions since the term ‘Learning Difficulties’ is open to confusion.

We made the following point in our submission: The term Learning Difficulties is used differently by health, social care and education services as well as by the individuals affected. It is important to ascertain whether someone claiming to have a learning difficulty actually has a learning disability, shows signs of an Autistic Spectrum Condition or has a specific learning difficulty. Challenging behaviour may initially mask a person’s learning disability or (specific) learning difficulty.

So, a small success, but one followed by another setback: funding will not be ring-fenced for the support of ‘LDD’ prisoners; it will be up to the discretion of the governor or, more likely, the Group Director of the re-organised prison clusters.

Prisons continue to deteriorate on measures of violence, self-harm, drug availability and lack of purposeful activity. From April 1st the prisons careers service was closed down when their contracts were not renewed, thus depriving prisoners of the wide range of services they offer.

With implementation of the new arrangements a full year away, continued over-crowding and Prison Officer numbers still down, the situation in many prisons remains volatile.

Network News was edited by Melanie Jameson

 

Event: BDA: Promoting Neurodiversity in the Workplace: Networking for Success!

British Dyslexia Association

Date: 28th June 2018, 9.30am – 4pm

Venue:  BRE, Bucknalls Lane, Watford, WD25 9NH  (There is limited parking onsite)

Information about this informative event:
The British Dyslexia Association with Dyslexia Science, Engineering and Technology, are delighted to announce an Adult Conference and Organisational Member’s Day, hosted by BRE.  All are welcome to this informative day!

This conference will explore how individuals can celebrate and accentuate their Neurodiverse talents and explore how those in the workplace can develop Neurodiverse friendly practices.

Our experts include so far:

  • Margaret Malpas, MBE, Vice-President of the BDA. and author of  “Self Fulfilment with Dyslexia: A Blueprint for Success”. Margaret will present on Networking for Success!
  • Katherine Hewlett from Achievability, presenting on Westminster Achievability Commission Report on Dyslexia and Recruitment.
  • Joanne Gregory, BDA Quality Mark Manager will present on The Dyslexia Friendly Workplace and the Dyslexia Aware Award for employers.
  • Aidan Ridyard: Successful and renowned Architect, Aidan will explore how his journey with dyslexia has evolved throughout his life and professional career, his talk ‘Volere Volare… To want to fly’ celebrates positive dyslexia and will be truly inspirational!
  • Masterclass on ‘Neurodiversity and Assessment in the workplace’: This session will give an overview on creating a neurodiverse working environment and will address the procedures around assessing for dyslexia, a fantastic overview of the key issues.

New Report launched (28 March) from Westminster Commission on Autism

Disability Co-operative Network

This new report was launched on 28 March and in collaboration with autistic people, organisations and charities in relation to fake cures often distributed on social media.  These ‘cures’ are rightfully causing concern so the Westminster Commission on Autism has produced a short report on recommendations to Government to support people and families.
Link to the report is here: https://t.co/yGZCyrnGmr

 

Join our Neurodiverse Museum Professionals group

We at DCN have launched an informal virtual group of Neurodiverse Museum Professionals (dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia, AD(H)D, ASD and tourettes who work (both paid and unpaid) or are emerging professionals in the Heritage and Cultural Sectors.  It will be peer support led with opportunities to share strategies, develop friendships and influence in the sectors.

We can also provide opportunities to feedback your Access to Work experiences to D.A.N. (Dyslexia Adult Network) and AchieveAbility to improve service.

We would like the group to work in creating opportunities to improve existing working practices within the Heritage Sector and good for career development in inclusive practice.

How do I join?

U.S.A: There is a U.S. group being set up by Sam Theriault, for further details regarding the U.S. group please contact theriault@rka-learnwithus.com and anyone can join the Neurodiverse Museum Professionals Group on
Google Groups: https://groups.google.com/d/forum/neurodiverse-museum

U.K. and Europe:  https://ndmuspgrp.ning.com/
You will need to email info@musedcn.org.uk with the subject heading ‘ND Group’ we will then send you an invitation code.

Thanks

Becki

 

Neurodiversity: Dyslexia – Resources for families and adults

Disability Co-operative Network

Neurodiversity: Dyslexia

Dyslexia is part of the neurodiversity spectrum which includes dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, ADD, ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and tourettes. (Source: DANDA)

Up to 10% of the population are known to have dyslexic traits, however as knowledge and awareness increases more people, particularly adults are discovering that they are dyslexic.  This is something that is part of their lives and the strengths associated with dyslexia may be a hidden asset to the workplace.

Some people do not think that dyslexia is a disability, however it is recognised under the Equality Act 2010.  The issues a great deal of people experience are related to attitudinal discrimination in respect to lack of recognition, support and social barriers, not the dyslexic traits itself.

I think I might be dyslexic?

There are two options:  you can be screened for risk of dyslexic traits. There are indications (depending on method of high, moderate and low risk). Screening is economically good (costs from £30 onwards) and if you are not sure or need to know quickly for support.  Screenings are offered by local associations who have a great deal of experience in the field and can offer advice.

Diagnosis:  this needs to be done by an Educational Psychologist who is a specialist in Dyslexia or a specialist dyslexia teacher – these are assessors who must register with PATOSS (https://www.patoss-dyslexia.org/) and the British Dyslexia Association (http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/)  PATOSS and national charities can advise.
Be expected that diagnosis can cost from £200 upwards.  Some will charge about £500 for a formal diagnosis and report.

Suggested ways to find appropriate Educational Psychologists:

Whats next: How do my traits affect me?

In the past, some adults have been diagnosed with dyslexia but don’t know their strengths or how to manage their traits.  Others are very effective in planning, organisation, time management in respect to managing their dyslexic traits. They also recognise how their traits are effected under pressure.

If you don’t know how your dyslexia affects you?

There are a number of films available via You Tube which highlight the strengths of people with dyslexia.
Suggested ones would be:

Don’t Call Me Stupid by Kara Tointon BBC Productions
Kara has dyslexia and shows how recognising and managing traits can make the difference in a person’s life.  Also the effect of attitudinal discrimination and support can impact.

Dyslexia: A Hidden Disability
People in high finance, entertainment, medical and technology professions talk about the importance of recognition, diagnosis and support for children and adults.

The Usual Suspects:  West Midlands Fire Service
Members of the West Midlands Fire Service speak about their dyslexic traits and the workplace.
http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/employer/resources-for-adults-and-employment

Training and expanding knowledge

British Dyslexia Association have launched an online course ‘How to Succeed at Home and Work as a Dyslexic Adult’.   It costs £12.99 for the module and is available via this link: http://www.bdaelearning.org.uk/enrol/index.php?id=86

Booklets and information

‘Employers Guide to Dyslexia’
A booklet full of resources and suggested strategies is available via the British Dyslexia Association.

Dyslexia: How to survive and succeed at Work by Dr Sylvia Moody
A fantastic resource of suggested strategies and knowledge regarding dyslexia and workplace.  It usually retails at £13.00 but worth looking out for second hand copies on Amazon for about half the price.

Access to Work:  Access to Work is a Government funded scheme to support people including neurodiverse people in the workplace.  For information in how to apply for funding please check out this film via our website:  https://www.musedcn.org.uk/2016/08/07/access-to-work-what-you-can-do/

I’ve got a problem at work and I don’t know what to do?

Dyslexia is protected under the Equality Act and if you feel concerned about any matter relating to workplace, the following numbers can be helpful.

Do check out each organisations websites for resources before you ring:

Equality and Human Rights Commission advice line: 0808 800 0082

ACAS Confidential Helpline:  0300 123 1100. It is available Monday 8am-8pm, Tuesday 8am-6pm, Wednesday to Thursday 8am-8pm and Friday 8am-6pm
ACAS website also has useful resources:  http://www.acas.org.uk/

British Dyslexia Association Helpline: 0333 405 4567
Helpline Opening Hours: Tuesday 10am – 1pm, Wednesday and Thursday 10am – 3pm.
http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/contact

 

 

Neurodiversity: Autism – resources for families and adults

Disability Co-operative Network

We have a number of twitter feeds about what neurodiversity is and how it is a positive asset to the workplace. There are a number of excellent organisations and associations, particularly local groups who have a great deal of experience. These organisations are happy to be contacted to raise awareness, inclusive practice and support.

Neurodiversity is Dyslexia, Dyspraxia,  Attention Deficit Disorder, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, ASD (autistic spectrum disorder) and Tourettes. Please see this diagram of profiles and how they relate to each other please see: http://www.achieveability.org.uk/files/1275491669/neuro-diversity-diagram.pdf

This page focuses on autism spectrum disorder and has a number of links and resources. This page sits alongside case studies and information available on this website. The aim for these resources is to support adults and families for inclusive practice in the workplace and service delivery of museums and cultural venues in the UK.

Workplace
Training (including online training that can start as little as £25), awareness, guidance and workplace support go to the National Autistic Society http://www.autism.org.uk/

Access to Work: Central Government funded scheme for people who may need support in the workplace https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/access-to-work-factsheet/access-to-work-factsheet-for-customers

Commonwealth Youth Council Toolkit for autism http://bit.ly/2ojQnzY

Families
Welcoming families and children with autism in museums via Kids in Museums  http://kidsinmuseums.org.uk/2016/04/04/welcoming-families-and-young-people-with-autism/

Autism in Museums (a blog site of articles by @TinctureofMuse)
https://tinctureofmuseum.wordpress.com/category/autism-in-museums/

Museum of Minds (a blog site by Jack Welch) http://museumofminds.wixsite.com/momcampaign

Museums and Autism (a tumblr site of articles and links by Sally Fort) http://museumsandautism.tumblr.com/

Autism in the Museum (U.S. site by Lisa Jo Rudy, consultant and writer) http://www.autisminthemuseum.org/

Remember to check this website and our twitter feed (@museumDCN) regularly for regular information, case studies and news.

Sensory Backpacks at the V&A with Abigail Hirsch ~ Claire Madge, V&A

Curious Ceramics bag

Launched in August 2015, the Curious Ceramics backpack is the V&A’s first backpack aimed at children with visual impairments. The V&A offer a number of backpacks for families, but for this special sensory version they worked in close collaboration with Sense, the national deafblind charity, and Abigail Hirsch an artist and an educator with experience and expertise in multisensory art engagement.

I first met Abigail at the Royal Academy – Why and How Conference back in 2015, her interactive gallery session on Rubens was a standout memory of the day. In February 2016 she invited me to visit the V&A with her to talk through the backpack, it was her first visit to see the final version actually in use in the gallery and we spent over an hour having fun with it.

Abigail told me the first challenge was finding an object to begin the journey with. The V&A had chosen the Ceramics Gallery for the backpack and it was important to tell the story of the gallery, not just of an individual object displayed in it. The Ceramics Gallery worked well as it was fairly quiet space that was not too crowded so that families felt comfortable and had room to work with the backpack.

Ceramics Gallery - lots to touch
Ceramics Gallery – lots to touch

The Ceramics Gallery was chosen and although it already had a lot to get hands on with and places to sit, it also proved a challenge as a lot of the displays were behind glass. Many objects are also not clearly displayed for someone with a visual impairment and it could be hard to distinguish between different objects in the cases. Abigail decided to tell the story of the journey of porcelain from China to the Netherlands, finally focusing on a large Dutch flower pyramid. She wanted to use objects, textures, sounds and smells to tell the story and include movement around the gallery.

Crowded display
Crowded display

It can be hard to pick out individual shapes on display if a visitor has visual impairment.

We picked up the bright yellow backpack from the education desk, inside were a collection of numbered bags containing a variety of items and a guide to explain how to use the bag. The guide takes the form of a story that provides active instructions to get families moving around the two ceramics galleries and questions are open-ended with no right or wrong answers.

Bag with guide
Bag with guide

It was important that the guide used contrast colours to make it easier for visually impaired visitors to use, and Abigail mentioned the problems of using laminated sheets where reflections on the shiny surface can cause difficulties. It was a requirement for all the bags to have exactly the same inside, it was also important to be able to easily source replacement items if anything became worn or damaged.

Block pyramid
Block pyramid

Items were road tested for durability, which led to for example a change in the selection of musical rainstick. Health and safety was a key issue too, the bags were aimed at families, with an awareness that there maybe younger ones in the group. The smallest cube from the box pyramid was removed as they felt it was too small and could easily be swallowed. Abigail also initially wanted an ocarina (a small musical instrument) included but the implications of spreading germs and the impractical requirement to clean after every use meant they were left out.

Flower pyramid
Flower pyramid

I thoroughly enjoyed working through the bags and the story they told in the gallery space. It was refreshing to have activities that did not require a pencil and paper and I thought the magnetic drawing board in particular a great idea. I felt the guide was a really useful tool, giving visitors the confidence to talk about objects and enjoy the galleries, it became a facilitator rather than a set of instructions.

Magnetic drawing board
Magnetic drawing board

There was a lot to touch, feel, smell and listen to, my favourite items were the clogs which provoked a surprising ‘ahh’ when they came out of the bag as they were very unexpected. The noise of wood and the encouragement they give children to make noise in the gallery are a welcome challenge to the stereotype of quiet traditional museums.

Clogs
Clogs

Points to consider when designing sensory backpacks –

  1. Budget – what is your budget? Can you apply to an external funder? The V&A backpacks were supported by Lord Leonard and Lady Estelle Wolfson.
  2. Backpacks work better if they are aimed at the whole family, not just children. What activities draw adults in too
  3. Backpacks need to tell a story, not just contain objects.
  4. How can the backpack facilitate movement around the gallery or museum? Are there also places to sit and feel comfortable, to have time to go through the backpack.
  5. Make sure you advertise and promote the backpacks on the website and in the gallery. Do front of house staff know about them and can suggest them to a visiting family?
  6. Where are the bags kept? The only downside at the V&A is the bags were kept on the education desk on the 3rd floor, you had to find your way there and then go on to the 6th floor to find the Ceramics Gallery. Do families need to know about the backpacks before they come?
  7. Do visitors need to leave a deposit or just a form of ID? Are there forms to fill out? Will this put families off taking out a bag?
  8. Think about the health and safety aspects, are objects robust and can be used without staff supervision? Are their musical instruments that are blown? Can they be cleaned after each use?
  9. Where do you want families to use the backpack? Is there a particular gallery or space that would work well with a visually impaired audience?
  10. Feedback and evaluation is crucial, it can be hard to get families to fill out evaluation forms under their own steam. Do staff need to prompt feedback when a backpack is returned? Can in-gallery staff give verbal feedback from observations on how the backpack is used?

 

Claire Madge
Victoria and Albert Museum

BBC Cape Project for neurodiverse talent in the workplace

The Autistix at the BBC

DCN was both thrilled and honoured to be invited to hear more about CAPE (Creating A Positive Environment) Project entitled ‘Joining the Dots’ to attract and retain neurodiverse talent in the workplace at the BBC.

Neurodiversity is a spectrum of dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, Attention Deficit Disorder, ASD (autistic spectrum disorder) and tourettes[1] . As these profiles are part of a spectrum, it means it effects people in different ways, such as poor working memory but strengthened with a strong visual memory. People with dyslexic traits can often see the big picture and how their organisation can be strategically influenced for better business. Other people may have difficulties reading body language but can consume information as their special interest and collections. No two people will have exactly the same traits.

The BBC event was a great opportunity to meet our colleagues from various social media groups such as #AXSChat and fellow tweeters who are passionate about diversity and inclusion for all. We were happily met by Chloe Spicer who designs multi-sensory experiences with books. Also Neil Milliken from #AXSchat a global accessibility group of various individuals, national and international organisations which invited DCN to be interviewed a few weeks ago. We caught up and networked with representatives including the National Autism Society, Sensory Spectacle and BBC.  It was great to see the Tate speaking about their work creating sound artat Tate Kids for children with neurodiverse profiles.

The historic Radio Theatre showcased neurodiverse talent for next 1 ½ hours. Amber Lee Dodd reading from her book ‘We Are Giants’, Rapper Smiffy, Dancer Javarn Carter-Fraser aka Nitro, Space Scientist Maggie Auderin Pocock, great band ‘The Autistix’ comedian Don Biswas and Alan Gardener ‘The Autistic Gardener.’ I’m not going to tell you what neurodiverse profiles these people have, because it shouldn’t matter. Their talent as communicators in their chosen field shone through the entire theatre. Their profiles are part of them, but really it’s their talent as people which is defining.

The message behind the event was the collaboration of sectors and recognising that our recruitment and methods may not attract the talent that we actively sought, as they are not accessible. BBC Employable Me shows that some techniques will not always attract the best candidate. Interestingly when Ashley spoke about his love of the Victorian era. He was sent to an auction house, not a museum.

Leena Haque said for discussion and afterthought should we cross out the word ‘dis’ in disability remain with the word ability’? We recognise ability, but let’s look at our methods to attract and retain neurodiverse and disabled talent in the workplace.

 

[1] Ref:  DANDA

Tom’s Ship of Stories ~ Alison Hale, Peoplescape Theatre

Tom's Ship of stories

Peoplescape Theatre Logo

Arts Council England Logo

 

 

 

 

A multi-sensory storytelling project for special schools created by Peoplescape Theatre.

In partnership with National Maritime Museum, Cutty Sark and Horniman Museums and Gardens.

Funded by the Arts Council

Peoplescape are a theatre education company working in London and Manchester. We work with all ages in schools, museums and community settings. Over the past 8 years we have been developing theatre projects in museums for children with special needs.

We aim to create theatre that is accessible to all, so we often limit our words, use music, sensory experiences. Our work is always interactive often with the children taking a role in the story.  In this project we were also working with a composer and digital mentor.

Following our recent successful projects for special needs audiences at the Museum of London and ‘Welcome to Cottonopolis’ at the People’s History Museum, John Rylands Library and Salford Museum, we were delighted to be collaborating with three wonderful museums in South London.

All of the museums were very keen to develop their offer to special needs groups.

We wanted to find a way to link the museums’ collections in a meaningful way and create a single story which would be performed in each museum for special school audiences.

Company Play day and Focus Group

The project began in February 2015 with a company play day at the Horniman Museum – exploring style, theme, techniques. This was followed by a focus group workshop bringing together Peoplescape, the museums and local special schools. We shared ways of working creatively with children with special needs, possible ideas for stories, and worked through drama to engage with objects, characters and themes inspired by the museums. We also talked to the teachers about universal themes that were pertinent for their children.

We came up with a simple story – It is the late 19th Century.  A 14-year-old apprentice says goodbye to his mum and boards a tea clipper for a voyage overseas.

Research and Development

We began a series of nine research and development workshops in three schools local to the museums. We worked with one class at each school. The groups were very different:

Year six high functioning children with ASD
Year one children with SLD and PMLD
Year four children with a variety of need: ASD, SLD and PMLD

Within these workshops we were able to try out ideas, themes and ways of working, including:

Storm Music created by the children

Call and response sea shanties

Multi-sensory objects and experiences
Multi-sensory objects and experiences

Multi-sensory objects and experiences e.g. wind created by sails, rope, tea, ice bags, UV fabric sea creatures

Different characters and moving in and out of role

Live video projecting of children whilst they were in role as sailors

Applied theatre techniques such as improvisation, thought tapping, forum theatre to explore the apprentice’s feelings about leaving home, the jobs he might do on the ship etc.

An interactive floor projection of the sea.

From the workshops we were able to find out what worked for all groups (e.g. the mum role and the emotion of leaving) and what didn’t (e.g. shadow puppets for children with visual impairments). Each group was also able to have a session in one of the museums. The children had ownership of the story and were able to contribute in their own way e.g. showing us their reactions to various digital and musical techniques, naming the main character ‘Tom’, choosing China as a destination for the ship, telling us their research about the harshness of conditions on board 19th century tea clippers.

Devising

All this work fed into our devising process where we shaped the ideas into an hour-long participatory performance.

Outreach Workshop

Before each performance we visit each school to deliver an outreach workshop to introduce ourselves and some of the props, songs and characters. We are also able to gauge the needs of the children and pitch the performance appropriately.

The performance – Toms Ship of Stories

“Prepare the Ship to set sail”

Prepare the Ship to set sail
National Maritime Museum

“Haul the ropes and hoist the sails!”

Haul the ropes and hoist the sails - Cutty Sark
Cutty Sark

“Are you ready for hard work? Scrub the decks!”

Are you ready for hard work? Scrub the decks! - Cutty Sark
Cutty Sark

“I don’t think I’d like to eat a jellyfish for my tea!”

I don’t think I’d like to eat a jellyfish for my tea!

‘pack the tea and load the crates’

pack the tea and load the crates - Cutty Sark
Cutty Sark

“I want the rain to stop, I want the wind to stop, I want to sleep”
“Tom is feeling sad…. I wonder if any of you can help?”

I want the rain to stop - Horniman Museum & Gardens
Horniman Museum & Gardens

Teachers’ responses:

“very well thought through, addressing the auditory, sensory and visual needs of the audience”

“the whole performance was fantastic, children were extremely engaged”

“Lovely to come to something that was pitched at just the right level”

We are currently working on the next phase of the project. We’re working with the museums to  develop their own sessions created specifically for special needs groups drawing on the techniques we’ve used in Tom’s Ship and the many things we’ve learned.

Alison Hale, Creative Director, Peoplescape Theatre
alison@peoplescapetheatre.co.uk
www.peoplescapetheatre.co.uk

 

Definition of terms:
SLD Severe Learning Disabilities
ASD Autistic Spectrum Disorders
PMLD Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (physical, learning & sensory impairments)

Photos © National Maritime Museum

Free showcase performance of Tom’s Ship of Stories, followed by discussion, at the National Maritime Museum on the 10th March, 3-5pm. Open to all those working in museums/theatre/education. Places must be reserved, contact alison@peoplescapetheatre.co.uk

 

The Secret Museum: Film Production with Autistic Young People ~ Suzanne Cohen

Filmmaker and educator Suzanne Cohen talks about her experiences of delivering media projects at the British Museum.

I have been facilitating weeklong film projects for young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) (13 – 19 years) in the summer holidays for the last seven years with an organization called Camden Summer University in collaboration with speech and language therapists from Whittington Health NHS.

Most of the courses have been hosted by the British Museum which is an excellent venue as it offers a large classroom plus lots of break out spaces for small group work, access to the collection and a very supportive environment created by Education Manager Katharine Hoare who we work closely with.

My role has been to devise exciting projects inspired by the location/exhibitions using a range of filmmaking techniques, which develop vocational skills. The end product is screened at a cinema in the British Museum in the Camden Summer University Young People’s Film Festival, which motivates us to do bigger and better things each year.

Of course the other important aim is to develop communication and interpersonal skills through group work. This gives the participants the opportunity to meet and make friends with other young people with similar interests who also have social communication difficulties or ASD.

Kate Bayley (Speech and Language Therapist – Team Leader) explains that ‘the course targets a number of vital skills for adulthood such as confidence, teamwork and independence. Social anxiety and individual needs can be supported by the therapists, so that the young people are free to focus on enjoying the galleries of the British Museum, and learning film skills from a professional. The feedback we get from young people and parents is that this can be a huge step in these young people’s lives!’

I was new to working with young people with ASD and initially I found it a struggle because things seemed to move slowly due to a range of issues which varied from student to student. These included short attention spans, focusing in on minute details, difficulties sharing and accepting others opinions, and lacking confidence/proficiency with IT.

In addition the young people with ASD found it difficult at times to be flexible and work in groups which led to some arguments and conflicts with each other. Increasing the number of adults present helped to ensure that everyone could supported to engage in the group as much as they wanted whilst allowing them opportunities to be taken out of the group situation if things became overwhelming for them. This year we had ten young people plus nine adults (myself and an assistant, a parent and 7 speech and language therapists per day).  Some of the young people knew each other from previous years and it was lovely to see them becoming more comfortable within the group situation.

The speech and language therapists have helped me to adapt my teaching for working with groups of young people with ASD, in the following ways:

  • Tightly structured activities, which get looser as the week progresses.
  • Presenting lesson plans on the board at the start of each section so expectations are clear and students know what to focus on now and what is happening next.
  • Explaining abstract concepts more thoroughly using simple unambiguous language and visual examples wherever possible
  • Including movement breaks to assist concentration and help students calm down or re-energise accordingly.
  • Class discussions need some preparation to be fruitful, e.g. break out into pairs first to enable them time and space to sound out or write down their views with others before contributing to the whole group .

The concept of ‘The Secret Museum’ animation was inspired by the mini tours we had been given to areas of the museum, which are not accessible to the public. The story is about a youth group on a day trip to the museum. We focus on four characters that get distracted by something and are lured away into a secret realm where they encounter an object come to life. Finally they come out of the situation unscathed returning to normality.

The idea was to make a collaborative film where each small group devised a main character and wrote and directed their particular storyline. I provided the narrative structure in order to pull the whole thing together and to help the students to create a more focused storyline. The speech and language therapists encouraged the use of interior monologues to develop empathy skills.

We used stop frame animation rather than live action party because the young people found exaggerated characterisation , facial expressions and movements easier to perform than ‘natural’  acting skills.

Each group storyboarded, shot, acted in and edited their sections, which were combined into a 4.5 minute film. You can see the results here (https://t.co/J3cdhd9gen); it is brimming with ideas and humour and is technically very proficient.

It has been great to see some of the young people returning year after year. I find the groups stimulating to teach and think the work they produce is very unique.

Here’s another animation (https://t.co/ykYsXsm8Sw) using monologues with avatars inspired by the Life and death
 Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition.

 

Definition of Dyslexia

‘Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling.
Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed.
Dyslexia occurs across the range of intellectual abilities.

It is best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category, and there are no clear cut-off points.
Co-occurring difficulties may be seen in aspects of language, motor co-ordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation, but these are not, by themselves, markers of dyslexia.

A good indication of the severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds or has responded to well founded intervention.’

‘Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties’ Sir Jim Rose (2009)
http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/dyslexic/definitions

SEN Work Placements at the RAF Museum: Ambitious About Autism ~ Alison Shean

Royal Air Force Museum

 

 

The Royal Air Force Museum has recently embarked on an exciting new partnership with Ambitious About Autism. In June 2014 we were the first museum to receive the Autistic Society’s Autism Access Award, and were keen to build on our efforts to become more accessible.  We began working with Ambitious College when we were approached by their Employment specialist, Katie Wake, about the possibility of providing work placements for some of their students.

Ambitious College is a specialist further education provision for adults with autism. Located on the Grahame Park campus of Barnet and Southgate College, the college provides specialist support to enable young people with autism to access further education and supported employment in their local community. The needs of their students are complex and many find communication and social understanding very challenging.

Getting started

Part of my role as Education Officer at the museum is to develop and run our work experience programme for young people. The museum is committed to accessibility and I offer a number of work experience placements within our Access and Learning team for students with special educational needs. However, this was the first time we would be working with students with severe and complex autism, which was a little daunting.

Ambitious College were brilliant. They really make the effort to get to know the workplace so that they can find the best fit for the employer and student. After an initial meeting where Katie and I discussed timings and tasks students might do at the museum, Katie spent a day with the Access and Learning team getting to know our working environment.

The museum’s formal learning activities are quite resource heavy. Visiting school groups can make replica gas mask boxes, evacuee labels, mini helicopter rotors, rockets or parachutes. All of these workshop resources need to be prepared in advance, and in large numbers. With up to 240 children visiting per day we get through them very quickly! Katie and I had identified resource preparation as a task that would suit her students and be very helpful to the museum.

During her time with our team Katie shadowed staff, took photographs of the resources students would be working with, and of the office environment itself. We provided her with the museum’s health and safety and risk assessment information as well as our guide for visitors with autism.  This enabled her to put together an information pack which ensures that Ambitious College staff and students can be fully briefed before they come into the museum.

The museum agreed that we would take on one student for one afternoon per week on a rolling basis.

During the placement

Before each placement Katie sends me a profile of the student detailing their specific needs, likes and dislikes, and how they communicate. During their placement students are accompanied by at least two specialist college support staff who know the student well and coach and support them at all times. Students have their own desk in our open plan office. I provide a series of tasks for them to complete, and the support staff work directly with the student to encourage and assist them with their work. At the end of their placement students get a certificate of achievement together with a record of the tasks they have completed.

We took on our first Ambitious College student, Mary, between February and April 2015, and our second, Conor, from May to July. So far the partnership seems to be working really well. Both Mary and Conor coped brilliantly with the Museum environment. They took to the work we gave them very quickly and did a fantastic job.

Feedback from the College has been very positive. The students benefit from gaining experience of a new environment and meeting new people. As well as building confidence, they are also developing new skills and an understanding of the workplace.

The museum benefits by expanding its range of partnerships, improving accessibility and by having the chance to learn from highly trained and experienced SEN professionals. In addition, the work these students do preparing resources for our learning activities makes a real contribution to our schools programme.

Lessons learned

We are all adapting and learning as we go along. Early on I discovered that a good approach was to provide students with a variety of different tasks to complete so that they could be encouraged to choose what they did, and in which order.

As an employer, being a little bit flexible can be helpful. There are occasions when students are not able to attend their allotted placement time and have to cancel on short notice, for example. Above all, I think maintaining good communication between partners has been vital to the success of this project.

Working with Ambitious College has been personally very inspiring. Observing how the support staff work with their students, motivating and encouraging them, has been a real education. Their skill and professionalism gives me complete confidence that we can offer work placements for students with complex needs. I also feel that I am learning a great deal from their staff that I can apply in my wider role as an Education Officer. This can really help us improve the museum’s provision for SEND audiences.

I very much hope we can continue to develop and expand this relationship. In November this year Ambitious College and the RAF museum will be delivering a joint presentation at the Museums Association Conference about our experiences of providing work placements for students with autism.

I look forward to taking on more students when the new term starts in September. Working with Ambitious College has been beneficial in so many ways. We are all learning from this partnership and that is extremely positive and exciting.

 

Alison Shean
Education Officer
RAF Museum London
Email: alison.shean@rafmuseum.org