Specialist teacher training support for dyslexic pupils

Luton North MP, Kelvin Hopkins
Image caption Kelvin Hopkins wants more teacher training to support dyslexic pupils

Here's a fact you probably don't know... one in 10 of us has some form of dyslexia.

Luton MP, Kelvin Hopkins, highlighted the fact during his debate in Westminster Hall over concerns that children with dyslexia could be losing out.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Dyslexia looks at the problems dyslexic people face.

Mr Hopkins, its vice chairman, is campaigning for better training for teachers.

Set up in 2007, it lists among its members Brian Binley, the MP for Northampton South and Matthew Hancock (West Suffolk).

Mr Hopkins told MPs that one in 10 of the population experiences some form of dyslexia.

'Hidden' condition

"The condition stays with people for life. Some people can accommodate it to an extent, others find it more difficult.

"Like colour blindness, it is a condition that is hidden and sometimes not even recognised."

"Many thousands of children across the whole ability range are not getting the help they need and are not even being diagnosed, because of the lack of specific training for teachers," he said.

It was a problem, he added, that was not only distressing for the children and youngsters involved but ultimately it was damaging the economy, as many would drop out of education.

The last government commissioned a report on education and dyslexia by Sir Jim Rose, a former director of OFSTED.

He proposed that initial teacher training should include dyslexia and special learning difficulties and that 4,000 specialist teachers should be created to support dyslexia sufferers.

"That is quite a tall order but that is what he recommended," said Mr Hopkins.

"If we are going to approach and attack the problem seriously, we need to follow that recommendation."

The review also wants schools to work more positively with the parents of children who have dyslexia.

Mr Hopkins and other MPs who spoke in the debate had stories about people they knew whose conditions had not been picked up while at school.

"Dyslexic children have just as much a right to a good education as all other children," Mr Hopkins told the chamber.

Government review

The Schools Minister Sarah Tether replied that 78,000 pupils receive support for a specific learning difficulty, including dyslexia and dyspraxia.

The government, she said, was in the process of reviewing the provision for children with special needs and would publish its recommendations in the new year.

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Image caption One in 10 of the population experiences some form of dyslexia

But she said that already her department had introduced a new phonics screening check for children in year 1, which, she hoped, would pick up children struggling with early literacy because of dyslexia.

Teachers were being encouraged to "improve and extend their knowledge and expertise when working with pupils with special educational needs" (although there was no mention of any extra money to help them train).

"We are absolutely committed to reforming the support for children with special educational needs and disability and we will say much more in the new year," she promised.

Mr Hopkins and his committee will be watching very closely, as will the British Dyslexia Association.

It has just launched a petition on the Downing Street website calling for all teachers to be trained in recognising and dealing with the difficulties faced by those with dyslexia.