MP calls for school help for 'left-handed' pupils

Left handed Sometimes teachers do not realise a young child is left-handed

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An MP has written to Education Minister David Laws asking for left-handed pupils to be guaranteed the special teaching he says they need in school.

Sir Peter Luff, who is himself left-handed, says teachers sometimes miss signs that pupils are left-handed and this can lead to developmental delays.

The government says it has introduced guidance that left-handed pupils should receive teaching to meet their needs.

But Sir Peter says this needs to be made statutory.

'Avoid activities'

In his letter, Sir Peter said: "I remain deeply concerned that proper provision for left-handed pupils is not in included in the statutory guidance of the new national curriculum.

"I have heard various stories of schools that do not follow this practice at all, and as a result left-handed pupils suffer."

In an earlier speech on the issue in the Commons, Sir Peter said: "Children who have difficulty with their writing, their colouring or their cutting out, because they have been encouraged to regard themselves as right-handed, will try to avoid the activities that cause them difficulty, leading directly to slow development and under-achievement.

"Teachers need to be trained to recognise the symptoms of left-handedness, respond to them positively and help those children to use their left hands.

"Left-handed children who try to use their right hand will often cope, but that is all they will do. They will not excel as they might have done, and their development is delayed. Only if teachers are encouraged to recognise left-handedness early will that be prevented."

'Trust teachers'

There have been a number of research papers suggesting left-handed pupils do worse than their right-handed counterparts at school.

In 2008, researchers at Bristol University found left-handed pupils scored 1% lower in national tests on average than their right-handed peers.

And in 2010, a study suggested left-handed pupils may underachieve in some subjects because of a lack of specialist equipment and "ignorance" of left-handedness among teachers.

The Department for Education said: "As part of the new national curriculum we have introduced guidance which is clear that left-handed pupils should receive specific teaching to meet their needs. We trust teachers to use their knowledge and expertise to cater to the needs of all of their pupils."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Whilst some left-handers obviously have had no problems in dealing with a right-handed world, it is a shame that they do not appear to appreciate that some left-handed children may not find handwriting, using scissors etc as easy as they did! Wouldn't you want to help your child succeed and achieve their full education potential rather than struggle? It seems a "No-brainer" to me, a right-hander!

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    When I learned judo, many years ago, the instructor marvelled that when he'd demonstrated a move I'd then perform it the other way around, a mirror image, on account of being the only leftie in the dojo... which was quite an advantage when fighting :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    As a young child I was left handed. My primary school was so determined that I should be right handed I was forced to sit on my left hand whilst I practiced my handwriting. It formed a habit and I still do it. It got to the point that the school called my parents in for a meeting about my lefthandedness and once or twice my wrist was sellotaped to my chair. This was during the late 80s-mid 90s.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    I wouldn't say that being Left-Handed has been a problem for me but there are several minor irritants that could easily be fixed :
    1) The mouse is always on the wrong side of the computer. (I often got shouted at for changing it over.)
    2) The scissors thing. Just annoying.
    3) Exams often have text on the left side and space to write answers on the right side. A real disadvantage for a lefty!

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    In this debate something seems to be missing.........recent experience of primary schools !
    Crucial one would have thought.
    Lefties do HAVE had special attention in infant schools: leftie scissors, seated where they can move their hand/arm without bumping. etc.

    People need to stop criticising education on evidence that is patently out of date. Go and visit a school before you spout please.


Comments 5 of 52


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