LDA advocates on behalf of LDA members and all those with learning difficulties, at various levels, on issues arising in the education of students with learning difficulties. We invite your response to these issues and submissions: please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This submission therefore addresses the question raised in the Issues Paper concerning the identification of the teaching practices that produce the best student outcomes, with a specific focus on the earliest stages of learning to read: how to identify the most efficient way of teaching, how to reflect on evidence, and the way in which content knowledge interacts with teaching practices in the area of teaching early reading.
LDA’s submission was to the Review of the National Curriculum, to be undertaken by Professor Ken Wiltshire and Dr Kevin Donnelly drew attention to flaws in the section of the curriculum relating to the teaching of beginning reading, and also noted the need to address the issue of teacher training. The submission argued that for effective implementation of the curriculum, it is necessary to have teachers who have a good understanding of the processes involved in learning to read and the research evidence relating to effective and ineffective approaches to the teaching of reading.
LDA’s submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs on their Inquiry into the prevalence of different types of speech, language and communication disorders and speech pathology services in Australia noted the overlap between the work of speech pathologists, whose major area of interest is oral language, and specialist teachers, who provide support for students with reading difficulties. The role of speech pathologists in the early identification of children with language problems which could lead to interventions which might prevent or ameliorate subsequent reading problems was noted, and the LDA submission put the view that more routine collaboration between speech pathologists and educators could improve literacy outcomes for all students.
In so far as LDA is an organisation supporting effective evidence-based instruction, particularly for students who are experiencing difficulties in learning, our concern is with the following focus points of the Schools Workforce Study:
In line with current developments in the United States and the United Kingdom, LDA would like to propose that Australia adopts a model of funding for students with learning difficulties and special needs based on the Response to Intervention model. This model is based on a three tiered model which requires:
The comments are based on our concern that the current definition of ‘disability’ does not include the category of ‘learning disability’. As a result, many students with severe and ongoing learning problems are not eligible for any form of support or funding to address their learning needs. Although we are cognizant of the problems of definition and identification in the case of this group of students, we propose that the recognition of ‘learning disability’ be based on the Response to Intervention (RTI) model, which has been widely adopted in the United States and the United Kingdom.