Recently, Curia’s Dyslexia Commission launched its 2022 report. The report is based on ten inquiries that were held over four days in 2022, the year the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) reached its 50th anniversary.
The Dyslexia Commission was created to increase awareness about dyslexia and other learning difficulties and to supply the government with recommendations on how they can better support those who have dyslexia, regardless of age and occupation.
The 2022 report summarises the findings of the inquiry sessions and explains in further detail the recommendations that the commission has put forward to the government.
As part of the launch, Dr Helen Ross summarised the 2022 report before Michelle Catterson (Chair of the Board of Trustees, British Dyslexia Association) and David Williams (Director of Inclusion, Park Academies Trust) spoke more about what they believe the priorities should be moving forward.
As the keynote speaker, Dr Helen Ross was tasked with giving a quick overview of the report. She spoke about how the commission came to exist, the people who have helped shape the ten inquiry sessions and the recommendation to come from them, and her personal analysis of some of the recommendations.
While the full report and list of recommendations can be read here.
Some headline recommendations that have come from it are:
- Increase screening to increase early intervention.
- Spread education technology and teacher training to use it.
- Empower teachers by training them on tools SEND students will need.
- Implement in-depth dyslexia and SEND syllabus during Initial Teacher Training (ITT).
- Target funds and services to children with multiple risk factors for low educational attainment.
- Introduce Assistive Technology to every child in every school.
- Normalise neurodiversity conversations in the workplace.
- Take steps to encourage company dyslexia policies.
- Raise awareness of dyslexia in the criminal justice system.
Speaking about the report, Dr Ross said:
“The commission was created alongside the British Dyslexia Association to discuss practical and pragmatic ways to reduce barriers so that people with dyslexia can flourish.
Through the ten inquiry sessions, we have welcomed the viewpoints of people with lived experience of dyslexia, people with academic experience and people who work in the field such as teachers and psychologists.”
For Dr Ross, who has a PhD in Sociology, the three areas which stuck with her when reading through the report were:
- The importance of education.
- The importance of mental health provision being met.
- Recognising that some people “slip through the net” and get through education without a dyslexia diagnosis.
“I looked at the recommendations as a sociologist and I felt that awareness and consistency are the things that ran through it. If you’ve got the awareness, then people are more likely to open up about what they’re struggling with without being embarrassed.
For me, so much comes back to education, when I was looking through the reducing inequalities section in the report, training was key, making sure a consistency for provision was key, and making sure that current policy frameworks are adhered to is key.
While a bottom approach needs to be taken with education we also need to remember that there are adults in the workplace who are wobbling and having really difficult times.”
Michelle Catterson, Chair of the Board of Trustees at the British Dyslexia Association was at the launch to offer her insight as a headteacher at a school in an independent specialist dyslexia school in Surrey.
These schools are far from commonplace in the United Kingdom and her experience could prove invaluable moving forward. As part of the commission, she chaired the inquiry session on working-age adults as she works alongside neurodiverse members of staff.
However, at the launch, she spoke passionately about the work schools can do to improve outcomes for pupils with dyslexia and other SEND needs. Catterson spoke about a broken educational system and pointed out areas for improvement:
“The system is broken and doesn’t properly support children and families with SEND. I feel frustrated because teacher training is such a missed opportunity. The module on SEND is not mandatory for all teachers during their PGCE. If this module was changed to mandatory then the impact on every single school in the UK would be huge.
I would love to reach out to education ministers to try and convince them to include this as part of their education for teachers. This has been commented on for years and the Rose Report in 2009 called for specialist teachers in every school and all these years later we are no further forward.”
As a headteacher who was worked both in mainstream and specialist schools, Catterson is adamant that the appetite to help is there from teachers, they just need to be provided with adequate training and technology. She said:
“We have teachers that are willing and desperate to help their children. I know financially how difficult it is for training once qualified. There are wonderful courses and opportunities out there, even just visiting schools like mine would be welcomed.
Teaching is a vocation, we go into this to make a difference. We need skills and resources and to be taught how to differentiate resources. What does a dyslexia-friendly classroom look like? How can teachers make their lessons more inclusive? Simple help sheets, guidance, and advice would be warmly welcomed by many many schools.
The wait time for a child to get a dyslexia diagnosis is currently over 12 months and the impact on that child in those 12 months is hugely detrimental. It leads to low self-esteem, mental health issues, and they just end up hating school all because they aren’t getting the right support. Early diagnosis is key.”
David Williams, the Director of Inclusion at Park Academy Trust spoke about how he was feeling positive for the first time in a while about the future of dyslexia provision thanks to the commission’s report and the Department for Education’s (DFE) recently published SEND plan.
Speaking at the launch, Williams said:
“In terms of where it’s going at the moment, I feel positive about the momentum of SEND. The inquiry that’s been going on this year has summarised what’s been going on in schools and the plan that the DFE released this month has some huge positives in it and I look to the future and am hopeful.
The plan is looking at linking alternative provision with specialist provision and that’s because within alternative provision 82% of the children have got SEND of some description and in essence, it’s been special education on the cheap.
Linking ICSs with education will also make a big difference. We hold information within education that is hugely useful to health around well-being, safeguarding and support and they also have information that is useful to us. Therefore, bringing those systems together has the potential to change things for the better.”
- Curia’s Dyslexia Commission has released its 2022 report featuring a list of recommendations for the government on how to improve dyslexia provision in the UK for children and adults.
- Dr Hen Ross, Michelle Catterson and David Williams took part in a panel session as part of the launch.
- They spoke about the importance of continuing to increase awareness of dyslexia and neurodiversity at all levels.
- They believe that teacher training needs to incorporate compulsory SEND modules.
- They believe that technology should be introduced as much as possible to help better support adults and children with dyslexia.
- Early diagnosis is the most important thing.
- The full list of recommendations from the report can be found on pages 8-12.
The work undertaken by the Dyslexia Commission last year is highly commendable. The biggest reason for the success of the commission and the excellent recommendations that have come from it is the wide array of experts that took part and engaged thoroughly with each inquiry session last year.
Now, it’s up to the government to take on board what these experts have said and implement the necessary changes as soon as possible. Arguably, the most important recommendation to implement would be to ensure that more young children are identified as being dyslexic at the earliest possible stage. This would stop the subsequent domino effect which damages children’s and adults’ mental health and confidence as they get older.
Part one of the report launch can be watched here: