Dyslexics 'lose in literacy hour'

29th September 2000 at 01:00
PRIMARY school pupils who suffer from dyslexia may be losing out through whole-class teaching methods used in the literacy hour and early intervention programmes, research has revealed.

A study highlights the serious concerns of teachers about the effects of the literacy hour on both the quantity and quality of teaching for pupils with special educational needs.

Researcher Mike Johnson, senior lecturer in special education at Manchester Metropolitan University, told delegates at the Scottish Dyslexia Association conference in Edinburgh that many teachers felt guilty that the needs of the few were being disregarded in the interests of the many.

Mr Johnson, who carried out the research in conjunction with the British Dyslexia Association, said: "There was little time to consolidate and revise work with special needs pupils, and although there was more reading going on there was a decrease in the amount of time for individual reading."

He added: "As researchers we were also concerned that many of the signs of pupils with specific literacy difficulties were either not being recognised or were being ignored."

Mr Johnson, whose study was based on 10 chools in Manchester and Salford, acknowledged the effort put into the National Literacy Strategy.

But he warned: "In their enthusiasm for the programme, teachers are not looking closely enough at the performance of pupils with special educational needs."

Jan McGregor, field officer with the Scottish Dyslexia Association, also acknowledged the success of early intervention programmes in Scotland in promoting literacy skills.

But she said that such programmes could not guarantee success for dyslexic pupils. There are, on average, two or three children with mild to moderate levels of difficulty and one with severe difficulties, for every class of 30.

"Each has their own specific strengths and weaknesses. They cannot be taught as one group. They need one-to-one tuition, for a short period of time each day," Ms McGregor added.

Meanwhile Colin Harrison, professor of literacy studies in education at the University of Nottingham, dismissed comprehension exercises frequently given out by teachers to consolidate reading skills. He said these were merely a way for teachers "to occupy some pupils while they concentrate on others in the class."

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