Changes to DSA funding raise concerns

This week David Willetts announced major cuts to allocations for Disabled Students Allowances and how DSAs will be applied.

We have great concerns that students with dyslexia, dyspraxia and other Specific Learning Difficulties, who were singled out in this announcement, may lose out particularly as their needs appear to be misunderstood. 

To state "Students with Specific Learning Difficulties will continue to receive support through DSAs where their support needs are considered to be more complex" implies support for those with ‘less complex’ needs are no longer to be funded by DSA. This shows a clear misunderstanding of specific learning difficulties. The issue is if the SpLD impacts the individual sufficiently to comprise a disability, then appropriate recommendations and support must be made available to address it. It is not a matter of refining complexity. The detailed specialist diagnostic assessment and subsequent needs assessment complement each other in this respect, carefully identifying the disability in order to determine support.

We have been working as members of the Disabled Students Stakeholder Group with BIS and Student Finance England on improving the DSA support since 2010. The breadth and depth of these changes, the lack of clarity in how they will be applied and misplaced implications in this policy are regressive and not what we could endorse.

There is much work that needs to be done on how the new policy will be implemented and to assure that disabled students in HE get the support they need to succeed in their studies. We are committed to continuing our work using these groups as well as our own networks to further develop and provide guidance for disabled students and those who are working to support them to assure their needs are met.  

“The size and scale of these cuts is unprecedented and represents a retrogressive step in equality for disabled people.  Our sector has been working hard with BIS to ensure quality support is targeted, cost effective and provides value for money. We are extremely disappointed that this has been swept aside. We want that work to continue.”  Paddy Turner, NADP



Ministerial Statement on DSAs 7 April 2014  

Student Finance England Student Support Information Note SSIN 1/15 April 2014 

'Calls to protect support for Disabled Students' NADP Press release 12 April 2014

The Dyslexia Debate

Patoss along with other Dyslexia-SpLD Trust colleagues, with support from government, continue to help schools, local authorities, practitioners and parents of those children and young people struggling with literacy, including those with a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia. Many of the families that we support have had a difficult time getting their child's strengths and weaknesses recognised and the correct provision provided. We endorse the thoughts of the British Dyslexia Association, which can be found here

The fish in the tree: Why we are failing children with dyslexia.

The fish in the tree: Why we are failing children with dyslexia.

The Driver Youth Trust, a charity dedicated to improving the life chances of children and young people with literacy problems, commissioned this report to understand why this failure was continuing. The study found that while teachers overwhelmingly thought it important they received training to help teach children with dyslexia, over half revealed they had received no specific training at all. For nine out of ten teachers surveyed, initial training on dyslexia amounted to less than half a day.

Yet giving teachers the skills to help those with dyslexia would benefit all children. Teachers are given a clearer understanding of the process of learning to read and write, and the techniques to support learning right across the classroom. This report sets out a series of measures which would help tackle the gaps in training and provision. They include providing training for all teachers on special educational needs including dyslexia and ensuring that local authorities identify and support children with the disability from the earliest possible opportunity.

Putting them in place would have not just a life-long impact on individual lives, but also on the strength of our economy and society. When three children in every classroom have dyslexia, we cannot afford to wait any longer for action.

You can download a copy of the report here.

Important Information on Professional Skills Tests for Trainee Teachers

This information should be shared with any who are in contact with potential trainee teachers.

The specific changes for those entering the teaching profession are:

  • ♦ The tests became pre-entry tests for initial teacher training (ITT), to be taken once a candidate has submitted an application for an ITT course. Candidates must have passed the tests before starting an ITT course.
  • ♦ The pass mark for the skills tests has been raised. This applies to the tests taken by all candidates, including those already on courses.
  • ♦ The number of resits allowed has been limited to two per subject for all candidates.
  • ♦ Candidates receive their first attempt at each test free of charge but will be charged for resits.
  • ♦ Candidates who fail after two resits in either numeracy or literacy are not able to book any more skills tests for 24 months from the date of the second resit. 


See our Information Sheet for more information.

SASC Issues Updated Assessment Guidance for Disabled Student Allowances

Assessment Matters:

SASC Issues Updated Assessment Guidance for Disabled Student Allowances

Updated Test List:

The list of suitable tests for the assessment of specific learning difficulties (SpLD) in Higher Education is a key part of the National Assessment Framework for Applications for Disabled Students' Allowances. The purpose of the list is to promote quality and consistency in the Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) process.

STEC [SpLD Test Evaluation Committee] serves to review this list periodically and consider new tests for inclusion. The latest updated guidelines, September 2013, in support of assessing for DSAs are now listed on the SASC website. Links to this updated guidance are also on the Patoss website (SpLD Testing and Assessment Guidance Sept 2013).

ADHD Guidance:

Following the ADHD Consensus meeting in May and continuing consultation over the summer with a range of interested parties SASC has issued guidance relating to the assessment of ADHD in relation to Disabled Students’ Allowances. This guidance is accessible from our website and the SASC website under SpLD Assessment Tools.

Dyspraxia Guidance:

Please note, in addition the Dyspraxia guidance has been updated. This accessible from our website and the SASC website under SpLD Assessment Tools.

Please circulate this information to your colleagues. 

2013-14 Access Arrangements Update Insert now Available for 4th Edition

The Patoss-JCQ update for our 4th Edition is now available to download from the Resources section of our website. This replaces all previous updates. Also downloadable is additional information on test resources to provide guidance for alternatives to some tests which are being withdrawn.  

This document provides a brief commentary on the changes to the JCQ regulations Access Arrangements, Reasonable Adjustments and Special Consideration for the year 1st September 2013 to 31st August 2014. 

The 2013-14 Guidelines and Regulations have been issued by the Joint Council for Qualifications. The full guidelines can be downloaded from the Joint Council's website.

Bath Spa - Patoss course leading to a Practising Certificate

SASC Approved

Does your work involve the assessment of vulnerable learners at risk of SpLD/dyslexia?

Do you have the ATS [Approved Teacher Status] level qualification approved by the British Dyslexia Association?
Have you completed the British Psychological Society Certificate in Competence in Educational Testing (CCET)?
Do you want to apply for the Patoss Assessment Practising Certificate (APC) to enable you to assess learners for SpLD/dyslexia?



    Patoss in partnership with Bath Spa University are the first to provide a SASC approved module to meet this need.
    TT7372: SpLD/Dyslexia: The Effective Assessment Report

    ++++ Next Offer Starting January 2014 ++++

    The module comprises 24 hours of face to face tuition/workshops, professional practice based assignments, plus a commitment to 276+ hours private study. It is likely to be delivered through two full day Saturday workshops and 4 Tuesday twilight sessions 5 pm til 8 pm. These sessions will be offered at Bath Spa University.

    There will also be London venues and dates for the 4 twilight sessions will be from 5pm til 8pm Thursdays. All candidates will be expected to attend 6 sessions, including the 2 full day sessions in Bath.

    For further details please contact: Dr. Tilly Mortimore

    For guidance on how to register and other general information, please contact CPD Admin on or Tel: 01225 875593