Memorandum submitted by Xtraordinary People
I run a charity initiative called Xtraordinary
People that raises money to train teachers to support children
with Specific Learning Difficulties/Dyslexia. We are supported
by some very well know dyslexics from businessmen like Sir Richard
Branson and Lord Harris of Peckham, to celebrities such as Robbie
Williams and Jamie Oliver. We have brought together all the dyslexia
organisations to work as a united front. We have some very exciting
"work in progress" and plan a media launch later this
I am dyslexic as is my son. I have first hand
experience of the lack of training teachers have and the problems
that this causes. I'm lucky because I was sympathetically educated
so knew what was possible and could pay for my son to have that
education too, most people can't.
At Ralph Tabberrer's suggestion, I have made
an appointment to see you next week as I believe that the Education
Select Committee need to hear the "real picture" that
we are uncovering by working with schools and LEA's around the
Ruth Kelly's first pledge in the Government's
White Paper is that they will "tailor education around the
needs of each individual so that no child falls behind" but
how will the government deliver this when 96% of teachers don't
have training to teach children with specific learning difficulties?
So we've got a big problem. The media is full
of the alarming stats of the numbers of children falling behind,
and if teachers aren't trained to support these kids properly,
this is never going to change. Clearly what is needed is a huge
teacher training programme. Xtraordinary People are keen to work
with the DfES to help that happen.
We're awaiting news from the DfES on plans to
match funding to support our work. Clearly this teacher training
is a vital part of the solution to ensure our teachers have the
skills needed to get all kids to be effective learners.
I've had meetings with Jim Rose. He is in agreement
that teachers need training. I spent the day with Jim at Millfield
School, a private school with a world renowned reputation for
supporting children with learning difficulties so he could see
an exemplar of provision. Every September the school have an intake
in Year 7 of children who have failed at primary or private schools,
arriving unable to read and write properlyall are successfully
supportedmany helped within a matter of weeks. Millfield
are working with Xtraordinary People free of charge. Yesterday,
Jim visited Lyndhurst Primary School in Southwark where we have
developed a unit to support children with SpLDs. The impact of
the unit has been reflected across the school with 95% of children
reading at level 4 at KS2 rising from 83% in the previous year.
Increases are seen across all subjects, science for example increases
from 88% to 97%. I would be delighted to arrange visits to either
of these schools if your committee, I'm sure you'd find it very
I have also had meetings with Ralph Tabberer,
Chief Executive at the Teacher Development Agency, who is very
supportive of our aims and to work with XP and the Department
to expand this training. We are also working with the TDA on their
modules for SEN in ITT.
Research for Xtraordinary People has found:
96% of teachers felt they didn't
have enough training to teach children with specific learning
four out of five had had less than
an hour dedicated to Specific Learning Difficulties during their
yet one in 10 are dyslexic and approximately
1/3 of children will need expert learning support at some point
during their education; and
a recent skills audit across 28 schools
only one teacher had training in Specific Learning Difficultiesthis
type of trend will be reflected nationally.
Whether we label children as having dyslexia,
learning difficulties or as poor readers, these teaching methods
help all falling behind because we're providing well trained teachers
who can properly assess a child's learning problems and develop
a individual leaning support to ensure the child is taught appropriately.
It also goes much further than reading to cover support through
the whole learning process, and is the right teaching approach
for all SENso represents a very broad solution.
We are at a pivotal moment in education with
reviews in reading and SEN provisionthe key to solving
learning difficulties in both these issue lies in the training
we advocate as can be demonstrated by the 30 years experience
of the dyslexia organisations and schools like Millfield. We hope
you can help us to ensure that children with Specific Learning
Difficulties finally get the start they deserve.
I'm delighted that Shirley Cramer from the Dyslexia
Institute is giving evidence on the 15th which no doubt will reflect
our views. I think it would be very valuable for the committee
to hear the views of the parents of dyslexic children, something
I would be very happy to put across.
In closing I would like to share with you a
story about a boy called Sam. Sam had problems with early speech
and language which fortunately meant his school organised an educational
psychologists report in 2000this found him to be dyslexic.
He has been having minimal literacy support from his school, but
none of the Sencos, teachers or LSAs have any qualifications in
SpLD. His mum had applied twice for a statement but was turned
down on both occasions because his needs were not considered to
be serious enough. He is now 12 and he has a reading age of six
and after appealing again (this time with the help of the local
MP) Sam has finally been awarded a statement. But here's the rub,
the support he is getting is from an untrained LSA! My son Ted
is also 12 and was diagnosed with moderately severe dyslexia in
2000 when he was nearly two years behind. With support from a
trained teacher he achieved Level 3 and above at KS1 in 2001 and
now has a reading age of 16.4. Ted now receives minimal learning
support for maths and study skills. It should be Ted's story not
Sean's that is echoed by thousands and thousands across the country.