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Anxious wait for dyslexia verdict

Verdicts on two cases in which former pupils are suing their schools for thousands of pounds for failing to diagnose their dyslexia are awaited by schools and councils, writes Josephine Gardiner.

The High Court has reserved judgment until next month on the cases of Pamela Phelps, and Mark Christmas, both 23. If either of the pupils wins, schools fear a flood of disgruntled pupils could take their grievances to court, American-style.

Pamela Phelps claims that in failing to spot that she was dyslexic until two months before she left at 16, her schools condemned her to a life of "temporary menial tasks" and that she left school with a reading age of nine. Ms Phelps was represented by Cherie Booth QC who argued that her client was of above average intelligence and that her difficulties were caused by her disorder. She had been "lumped in" with pupils of low intelligence.

Ms Phelps explained that at Mellow Lane comprehensive in Hillingdon she was constantly bewildered because she could not read instructions on the blackboard or timetables. After leaving school in 1990 she had not been able to hold down a job and was now living on benefit.

Mark Christmas is suing Hampshire local authority, claiming that in neglecting to diagnose and treat his dyslexia it has damaged his earning potential. He is now working as a childcare officer.

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