'Dyslexia Awareness Week is a reminder of how far we have to go before every child's needs are met'

2nd October 2017 at 16:05
This week we need to recognise successes, but also acknowledge the failures when it comes to support for students with dyslexia, says Christopher Rossiter

Dyslexia Awareness Week is a time to celebrate the endeavour of people with literacy difficulties and their perseverance, particularly in education.

This year’s theme of Dyslexia Awareness Week is "positive dyslexia" but, for me, any positivity is juxtaposed with my experience of working in schools across the country with the Driver Youth Trust. While there is much to celebrate in the individual stories of success, I know that there are storm clouds on the horizon; I sometimes find myself wondering whether that storm is already here. 

Dyslexia aware?

For example, this year saw the demise of Dyslexia Action, a charity that had been at the heart of the sector and a significant provider of assessment and support services to people with dyslexia and their families. This loss means that the thousands of people assessed and supported by Dyslexia Action could not only have lost money but they may have also lost the support to help with literacy and other skills essential in school and work.

I also see a lack of capacity for Sendcos to directly support their teaching colleagues in the classroom. They are often unable to give effective supervision to teaching assistants in delivering interventions in the exacting way that’s often required.

And I see teachers burdened by bureaucracy and the needs of children not being met. 

Doubt and under-funding

In addition, prominent voices in education still throw a shadow of doubt over dyslexia – claiming it is an over-diagnosed condition that does not help either the children or their schools. 

Meanwhile, we work in areas where there are no services for those children with cognition and learning needs, and even – I'm thinking of one particular LA where there are no services for SEND – children who have no way to get an EHCP. 

Despite all this, as a school governor, I have faith in our staff’s ability to respond to individual needs. However, should teachers have to work this hard to meet the needs of students who have a legal right to support? Where is the help for both teachers and students?

So this week let's celebrate those people who have made a success of their lives and the many people working tirelessly to enable them to do so. But let’s keep in mind that we have so much more to do to ensure every child with dyslexia gets the support they need for success in education.  

Christopher Rossiter is director of the Driver Youth Trust 

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