Thursday, February 26, 2009

Labour Party policy on Dyslexia

Readers of this blog may remember comments made by Graham Stringer MP some time ago, which made the surprising announcement that dyslexia does not exist. (Surprising to those of us who are dyslexic).

I was angry at the time because I knew the statement would spread confusion and distress among a group of people who suffer enough distress already.

At the time, I wrote a couple of articles on the issue, went on radio to talk about it and, once I'd calmed down a bit, wrote to the Labour Party asking for clarification. They were kind enough to get back to me with a statement. I then wrote back requesting permission to reproduce their statement on my blog. To that I have still received no reply. After a long delay, I have decided to publish their statement anyway, and trust that if they want me to remove it, they'll let me know.


My question:

Following recent statements by Labour MP Graham Stringer, I would like to know if it is Labour Party policy that 'dyslexia is a cruel fiction'. If not, I'd be grateful to know what Labour Party policy is on this matter. Or indeed if the Labour Party has no policy. Many thanks.

Answer:

Dear Mr Duncan Thank you for your email about Graham Stringer's comments. His comments made do not reflect Labour Party policy. We understand the distress and frustration that many parents of a dyslexic child feel so keenly. Often they have endured years of struggle trying to get extra help to overcome their child's difficulties with reading and writing. That is why the Labour Government is working with a number of dyslexia organisations to identify and promote best practice in identifying and supporting children with dyslexia.The Secretary of State for Children, Ed Balls, has asked schools to look closely at the support they offer for dyslexia. As well as helping fund the British Dyslexia Association parents' helpline, the government are spending £1m through the 'No to Failure' project which is trailblazing and evaluating the effect of both specialist training for teachers and specialist tuition for children with dyslexia. Ed Balls has asked Sir Jim Rose - who is currently doing a review of the primary curriculum - to look at these and other schemes and make recommendations on the identification and teaching of children with dyslexia. He will be publishing his recommendations in the Spring. Regards, Ben Nicol Membership & Communications Unit The Labour Party

3 comments:

Alan Gurbutt said...

RE: "As well as helping fund the British Dyslexia Association parents' helpline, the government are spending £1m through the 'No to Failure' project which is trailblazing and evaluating the effect of both specialist training for teachers and specialist tuition for children with dyslexia. Ed Balls has asked Sir Jim Rose - who is currently doing a review of the primary curriculum - to look at these and other schemes and make recommendations on the identification and teaching of children with dyslexia. He will be publishing his recommendations in the Spring."

Hi Rod,

Nice blog. I'd love to comment on all of your dyslexia posts, especially those concerning Graham Stringer MP, but I'll resist the temptation - I have dyslexia, but my abilities are quite different to his.

Do you have a date for the publication of Sir Jim's findings?

I hope that the Govt will provide early intervention for kids. They negated adult dyslexia outreach funding to local authorities, who in Lincolnshire at least, have subsequently ceased to provide financial support.

I like your idea of a dyslexia workshop. I was only discussing a similar idea with my dyslexia support worker last week. My ten week sessions had come to an end and I raised the question of setting up a support group in my area. I may have some questions, if that is okay?

Finally, I understand from Jackie Stewart (the racing driver), whilst being interviewed on the One Show, that Scotland are already training teachers to recognise "hidden disabilities". A step in the right direction in my opinion.

Regards,
Alan

Rod Duncan said...

Hi Alan,

Good of you to visit the blog and comment. Yes - I too was tempted to say all kinds of things when I heard of Mr Stringer's factually incorrect and damaging statement!

In answer to your question - no, I do not know about the review they mention.

Jackie Stewart is a great example of how dyslexia can cause a mixture of abilities. In his case, the ability to remember all the bends and gear changes required on a long and complex racing track. Hugely difficult to most people but no problem to him. The ability to read and spell - big problem.

If you have more questions, feel free to ask.

Alan Gurbutt said...

Thanks for your reply Rod,

It appears as though Sir Jim Rose's Interim report is available to download at: http://publications.teachernet.gov.uk/default.aspx?PageFunction=productdetails&PageMode=publications&ProductId=BLNK-01010-2008

For more details regarding the timescale of the primary curriculum report: http://curriculum.qca.org.uk/key-stages-1-and-2/Values-aims-and-purposes/primary-curriculum-review/index.aspx

Have you read "The Gift of Dyslexia" by Ronald Davis? It's the only book that made sense of my condition.

Regards,
Alan

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