Dyslexia Awareness Week 2022
Date 5 October 2022
Una Lodge, Senior Lecturer in Education (SEND & Inclusion) blogs about creating a world where the awareness week is no longer needed.
Dyslexia Awareness week has come round again, and I find myself wondering what could bring us closer to making such a calendar event not needed in the future?
As a ‘teacher of teachers’ of individuals with dyslexic-type difficulties, I, perhaps inevitably, put my trust in education. In 2009, Sir Jim Rose published a government-commissioned report on the then-current state of understanding and provision in educational settings for learners with dyslexic difficulties. He tried to move the focus of the debate around dyslexia from definition to provision and produced a list of recommendations to improve practice in schools, including the training of specialist teachers who could work in their settings to develop understanding and capacity.
Unfortunately, after an initial flurry of interest and national funding to support this venture, the educational fashion moved on, and reports from the school frontline suggest that Rose’s vision has not been realised, and that provision for learners with dyslexic difficulties remains patchy at best. According to a report from the Driver Youth Trust (2020) three out of four schools do not have access to specialist teachers.
The University of Northampton has a long tradition of offering education and qualifications to students to empower them to work within educational settings and workplaces to be teachers, advocates, and supporters for individuals, across the age span, who require something additional or different to the norm, to enable their success.
To achieve an equitable environment for all those who might be affected by literacy difficulties and other associated elements of a neurodiverse profile, we need teachers to deepen the reservoir of their understanding of these areas, and to widen the repertoire of their skills in meeting the needs of the individuals they encounter. As a student of our PG Dip in SpLD & Inclusion told me:
“As SENCo (Special Educational Needs Coordinator), the PGDip has really helped me identify where difficulties with learning to read and write started and identify suitable, multi-sensory sequential interventions. The course also gave me the confidence to not try to move pupils on too quickly and to ensure that the skills taught were fully embedded. Having a greater knowledge about how children learn to read and write and where difficulties begin to occur has massively helped with target setting and early intervention.”
The training of specialist dyslexia teachers to work in schools (as recommended by Rose) is an effective way to achieve this, however, this requires the impetus and investment from policymakers.
Quality professionals working in every setting, who can provide training and advice for colleagues and stakeholders in their local communities, as well as deliver individual and group teaching to learners, would certainly be a step on the way to making Dyslexia Awareness Week a thing of the past.
Una is a Senior Lecturer in Inclusion and Special Educational Needs and teaches across undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in the ISEN team and is a HEA Fellow.