Memorandum submitted by Dyslexia Action
1.1 Dyslexia Action is the working name
of the Dyslexia Institute Limited and is a national charity and
the largest independent provider of educational services for those
with dyslexia and specific learning difficulties (SpLD's) in the
UK. The organisation has a 37 year history of providing a leadership
role in developing evidence based cutting edge provision to help
people with dyslexia/reading difficulties to reach their potential.
Dyslexia Action has 25 centres and 110 teaching outposts around
the country, works with mainstream schools, colleges, universities,
local government, prison and probation and employers. The organisation
undertakes research both national and international and is one
of the largest providers of post graduate training in dyslexia
and literacy. Dyslexia Action works to increase understanding
of SpLDs and campaigns for improvement in services.
1.2 Dyslexia Action outlined in detail,
in its submission to the Education and Skills Select Committee's
inquiry into Special Educational Needs (SEN) in 2005 its concerns
regarding the often poor and patchy services for children with
SpLDs in England. In that submission we highlighted what we believe
to be sustainable and long term solutions to ensuring that all
children receive the help they need to be successful at school
and in later life. As a result of that committee's report there
have been a number of policy changes related to children with
SEN, including those with dyslexia/SpLDs.
1.3 In 2006-07 as a result of the select
committee's conclusions about the lack of SEN training for mainstream
teachers, the Government commissioned the Inclusion Development
Programme (IDP). This is a basic training programme, available
for current teachers in both primary and secondary schools to
learn more about SEN. The first issues to be covered in the IDP
programme were speech, language and communication difficulties
(SCLN) and dyslexia. The materials for the IDP were based on evidence
based practices for what works for children with literacy difficulties/dyslexia.
Although the materials were available for all schools in England
and we participated in a pathfinder programme to try and embed
the training in four local authorities, as yet we do not know
how many local authorities have effectively used the programme
or its impact on children with dyslexia/literacy difficulties.
If this programme were used everywhere it would significantly
improve the level of basic knowledge in mainstream education.
1.4 Dyslexia Action welcomed the 2006 independent
Review of the Teaching of Early Reading by Sir Jim Rose
on which the current policy of the teaching of reading is based.
The conclusions of this report were based on international evidence
which shows that children who have difficulties learning to read
(for whatever reason) are more likely to acquire reading skills
with a synthetic phonics approach. He also concluded that children
who continue to struggle after "quality first teaching"
will need additional expert help and support. We support the introduction
of "letters and sounds" but have some concerns about
its implementation across the country.
1.5 As a result of the advocacy of parents,
evidence of poor outcomes for children with SEN, the lack of progress
in literacy and the continued growth of school exclusions, the
Secretary of State at the DCSF asked Sir Jim Rose to lead an independent
review on teaching children with dyslexia as an addition to the
1.6 Dyslexia Action, along with other voluntary
sector organisations whose mission is to improve the lives of
those with SpLDs, has warmly welcomed the June 2009 independent
report from Sir Jim Rose, Identifying and Teaching Children
and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties.
We are also pleased that the Government has acted immediately
upon the Report's recommendations and allocated some funding for
the training of 4,000 new specialist teachers along with other
initiatives. Training and funding adequate numbers of specialist
teachers each year needs to be a priority if we are to improve
outcomes. We have long argued that the lack of expertise in schools
is leading to educational failure for many children with SpLD's.
Teachers with a certificate or diploma in dyslexia and literacy
are able to support other teachers in the school, cascade training,
develop individual learning plans and support senior management
1.7 The recommendations of the Rose Report
are clear and comprehensive and if they are implemented effectively
in mainstream schools they would make a significant difference
to student outcomes, especially to those who are most disadvantaged.
The recommendations are based on the most current international
evidence on what works for children struggling with literacy/dyslexia.
There has been universal acclaim and agreement on the definition
of dyslexia contained in the report. This definition has now been
adopted by all the dyslexia organisations.
1.8 It is vital for policy and practice
that dyslexia should be viewed as a continuum, not a distinct
category as indicated in the Report. Good quality first teaching
of reading will help all children, including those with dyslexia
and the different levels of support described in the report reflect
a practical and cost effective approach for schools, ensuring
that individual children get the support they need. The key to
success of this policy is that teachers receive the appropriate
training at all levels in the system. A concern for us is to ensure
that the recommendations from the report are implemented across
the country and that there is political support from all political
parties for this aim.
1.9 A major gap in ensuring that good evidence
based policy is enacted is that modules on SEN and on dyslexia
are not currently mandatory in Initial teacher training (ITT).
We believe that this needs to change urgently. Inclusive education
is not possible without trained staff.
1.10 Although there is a good evidence base
related to children struggling with literacy difficulties and
dyslexia, there is a need for research into the co-occurring specific
difficulties such as dyspraxia, dyscalculia and Attention Deficit
Disorder. Researching the inter relationship of all the SpLD's
would help to develop improved educational interventions.
1.11 Dyslexia Action welcomes the strengthening
of OfSTED's role in inspecting support for children with SEN.
It is important that all inspectors receive training on SEN in
order to carry out this role and that some inspectors have enhanced