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Pupils: Dyslexia

Volume 475: debated on Monday 28 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what estimate he has made of the proportion of children of school age with dyslexia; and what assessment he has made of the effects of their condition on schooling needs; (202172)

(2) what provision has been made for teaching children with dyslexia within his Department's (a) Every Child a Reader, (b) Every Child a Writer and (c) Every Child Counts programmes;

(3) if he will take steps to ensure there is at least one teacher with specialist training in teaching children with dyslexia on the staff of every school;

(4) if he will take steps to reduce the number of children with dyslexia who do not succeed in school.

Our latest figures for pupils in schools with specific learning difficulties (including dyslexia) show there are 75,920 pupils either with a statement of special educational need (SEN) or supported through School Action Plus. We do not collect data on the particular special educational needs of the tenth of all pupils who are supported through School Action.

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, as advised through the code.

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.

To identify and promote best practice, we are working with dyslexia organisations on the No to Failure Project, through which children in trailblazer schools 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 a significant proportion of participating children not achieving expected levels of attainment are at risk of dyslexia or other specific learning difficulties. However, the report does not indicate how many children 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.

Our commitment through the Primary and Secondary National Strategies is to ensure Quality First teaching for all. The Every Child a Reader and Every Child Counts initiatives are focused on providing additional intervention for the 5 per cent. of children facing the most difficulties with reading and mathematics. They do not provide a specific focus on provision for children with dyslexia. Every Child a Reader is being rolled out to reach 30,000 children a year by 2010/11.

Every Child Counts is currently in a research phase and will be informed by the Williams Review of the teaching of mathematics that is due to be published in June this year. The intention is that Every Child Counts will be aimed at children whose attainment in the early stages of mathematics shows they are not making expected progress for their age.

Every Child a Writer is a new programme announced at the end of last year. The intention—as stated in our Children's Plan—is that this will offer support later in primary school than Every Child a Reader and Every Child Counts and reach a greater number of pupils. Further announcements will be made about Every Child a Writer in due course.

Evaluations of the Every Child a Reader pilot—which provides Reading Recovery for children from among those having the most difficulties in learning to read —were published in 2006 and 2007. These are available on The evaluation of Every Child a Reader in London in 2005/06 showed that 87 per cent. of children who had received Reading Recovery were considered to have made average to exceptional progress in reading comprehension. However, these evaluations did not include looking at the efficacy of Reading Recovery for children with dyslexia.

The SEN Code of Practice says that "effective management, school ethos and the learning environment, curricular, pastoral and discipline arrangements can help prevent some special educational needs arising, and minimise others" (paragraph 5:18). Where whole school arrangements for teaching and learning are not addressing a child's learning difficulties, schools have a statutory duty to do their best to ensure that the necessary provision is made for any pupil who has special educational needs. It follows that if a child with dyslexia is not benefiting from their participation in any or all of the three initiatives, the school must make additional or different arrangements to address the child's special educational needs.