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Additional support needs will be integral part of teacher training

All student teachers in Scotland will be taught about dyslexia and other learning difficulties as an integral part of their training, it has been announced, writes Emma Seith.

Until now, students have only been offered modules or specific lectures on additional support needs. In April, however, the Scottish Teacher Education Committee will launch A Framework for Inclusion, which will include an extensive web-based resource and access to relevant continuing professional development materials and good practice.

The Minister for Children and Early Years, Adam Ingram, and motor racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart announced the new approach at a cross-party meeting on dyslexia at the Scottish Parliament last week.

Sir Jackie, who is 70 this year, was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was 41. He described the diagnosis as "like being saved from drowning". He is president of the national voluntary organisation Dyslexia Scotland. "If we are going to make a big difference, all seven teacher training colleges have to guarantee that every single teacher who leaves that college has the skills to recognise, at an early stage, learning difficulties.

"Without that, we will still have the little Jackies sitting at the back of the class, trying to avoid eye contact with the teacher."

Some teachers were still unwilling to learn about dyslexia, he lamented.

"In some cases there is a resistance to change and some, I suspect, will never want to do the courses. However, many teachers are now retiring and they will be replaced by a new force coming in."

CASE STUDY

Nicole Dempsey's children, Adam, 7, and Taylor, 6, have been diagnosed with dyslexia. But it was the family that had to pay for them to be assessed, at a cost of Pounds 500 per child.

Nicole spends Pounds 80 a week on extra tuition and spends roughly two hours every night working with them. She claims the teaching they receive at their South Lanarkshire school is failing to cater for their needs. "We sit down and do the work so they won't cry themselves to sleep, worrying about school the next day. Instead, I cry myself to sleep," she says.

"I am having to give up my right to just be their mum. I can't remember the last time we went to the park or went out for pizza."

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