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Volume 474: debated on Thursday 24 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the provision of specialist dyslexia teaching in the light of the report of the No to Failure project on screening for dyslexia and specific learning difficulties. (201226)

All local authorities and schools must have regard to the special educational needs code of practice which provides advice on their statutory duties to identify, assess and make provision for pupils' special educational needs. Children with dyslexia should have their needs identified and support put in place in the same way as children with other special educational needs (SEN).

To identify and promote best practice, we are working with the British Dyslexia Association, Dyslexia Action, Xtraordinary People and the Professional Association of Teachers of Students with Specific Learning Difficulties on the No to Failure project. This project is supporting trailblazer schools in three local authority areas, where children are screened and specialist teaching provided to those identified at risk of dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties. We are supporting this project with just over £1 million funding over three years.

The recently published report from No to Failure says that a significant proportion of children in the trailblazers not achieving expected levels of attainment are at risk of dyslexia or other specific learning difficulties. However, the report does not indicate how many had already been identified with SEN, nor does it evaluate the impact of specialist teaching on children's progression. We are looking forward to seeing the final report later this year, which we understand will contain such an evaluation.

Through No to Failure, we have commissioned Dr. Chris Singleton to summarise published research on the impact of specialist dyslexia teaching. We will consider whether and how we should promote specialist dyslexia teaching as best practice in the light of evidence of its impact.

To help those working in schools with identifying and supporting children with dyslexia, last October we launched the inclusion development programme, which is offering professional development in key areas of SEN starting with training on communication difficulties, including dyslexia. The inclusion development programme materials were developed in close consultation with dyslexia organisations.

We are also providing £150,000 over two years for the British Dyslexia Association to enhance their helpline's service to teachers, and 250,000 over three years for Dyslexia Action to run Partnership for Literacy pilots in a further 10 schools.