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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
    +1

    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.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 47.

    1) A difference of 1% means there isn't any significant difference between two groups.

    2) I'm left handed. I never had any allowances made for me at school and neither did any of the other lefties. We still made up more than half of the top set.

    3) Really? Did anyone actually bother to look up all any research? Historically speaking, lefties as a group have tended to OVERachieve.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 46.

    Now approaching 70. Always left handed. No special attention given to it. Cambridge graduate. Worked jolly hard all my life. Latest study just plain nonsense

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 45.

    All this study etc , on this and that make MPs look Busy......about time we stood up to the MPs etc......and stop waisting money and Useless studies, left or right handed???? as long as you can write..

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 44.

    do not think it matters much in this day an age.

    do think Barclays take the mickey 32 million for a bunch of thieves

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 43.

    I tend to be bemused by the assertion that left-handed people are somehow handicapped. Having been left-handed my entire life (har har har), I have neater handwriting than anyone else I know, can write legibly with both hands, and have flourished in environments that seemed rather lefty-heavy (arts and language). Disadvantaged? This isn't the 50s or 60s, mate!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 42.

    The symptoms of left-handedness? They make it sound like a disease that needs to be cured.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 41.

    The "symptoms" of left-handedness?? And are teachers "encouraging" children to regard themselves as right-handed? Forgive me, but I was never "encouraged" that way.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 40.

    Load of Bull. the only real problem us lefties face is our handwriting may be less neat and slower as a result of covering as writing. The impact is suggested to be a 1% gap I think I can compete quite well, after all education is supposed to be about more than grades.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 39.

    Huh? In this house we're ALL lefties. When our daughter arrived, we were careful to be neutral about her handedness, but it soon became apparent that she's left-handed too - and surely the sort of thing they're talking about is stuff you learn BEFORE you go to school anyway, and it isn't things that will hold you back in your studies anyway...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 38.

    My primary school treated left handed people like glue eaters. I was personally told to stop being difficult when asking for the pair of left handed scissors which was shared between two classes. This was in the 90's.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 37.

    i'm all for helping kids but come on ... there's better uses of the money this would take. My husband is a lefty and it hasn't held him back, nor my father. What we need is good teachers, not endless initiatives - and anyway, parents will know if their kids are right or left handed long before statutory school age.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 36.

    Examine any IT department and you'll find a lot of left-handers. Today we don't have the problem of kids with dip-in ink wells and ink everywhere (except where it was supposed to be) which we used to have. All we need now are the left-handed scissors etc. Good places to start are www.anythinglefthanded.co.uk and www.anythingleft-handed.co.uk.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 35.

    As a person who vividly remembers being smacked for daring to be left handed when 5 at school and being forced to be right handed , I am so pleased to see that left handedness is being supported and it recognized as a special need which needs resourcing . Took my several years to catch up with my right handed peers there.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 34.

    All this and cheaper childcare, and a promise of more RE teaching in schools because this is what parents want?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 33.

    Being left-handed, my writing has never been good. I had to attend "writing clinic"each week at school and all the pupils in the class were l/h. It was like a detention for lefties! My writing never improved. I also found learning to knit, crochet and any hand skills were difficult because the teachers were right-handed.

 

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