Clash of the elbows confounds left-handed

ESTELLE Morris, the new school standards minister, was urged this week to act to stop a bunch of "lefties" being elbowed out.

The minister was lobbied by Tory MP Peter Luff who is honorary member of the Left-Handers Club of Great Britain. He told the Commons that discrimination against his sinister brethren must end.

He told The TES: "It would cost absolutely nothing to have the problems of being left-handed recognised by teachers and for them to learn strategies to help left-handed pupils."

He added that many teachers are unaware of the needs of the 10 per cent of British pupils who are left-handed who may have inferior writing skills.

During the debate Mr Luff said: "Teachers need to be trained to recognise the symptoms of left-handedness and respond to them positively. Left-handed pupils need to use different equipment in the classroom, yet in some classrooms in some schools even the simplest bit of kit, left-handed scissors, is not available."

Left-handed pupils also find it difficult to keep friends - if they are told to sit to the right of a right-handed pupil a clash of the elbows begins, he said.

But Britain's 1.1 million left-handed children in primary and secondary schools can console themselves with the thought that they belong to a group of highly-talented individuals - famous left-handers include Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Leonardo da Vinci, Julius Caesar, Marilyn Monroe and Noel Gallagher.

The Teacher Training Agency suggested special needs co-ordinators be given the task of identifying the problems. Mr Luff said: "Left-handedness is not a special needs issue. It is a matter of discrimination and we lefties want our rights."

Ms Morris pledged to ensure that teachers are trained to recognise the problems faced by left-handed pupils and plan lessons accordingly.

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