Monthly Dyslexia News Digest – May 2019

In the headlines

May has been a quiet month here at Monthly Dyslexia News Digest but we bring you one uplifting story and one contentious story so read on…

29 May 2019

The British Dyslexia Association offers organisations the chance to receive their Smart Award, which is designed to recognise and promote good practice for supporting the needs of dyslexic and neuro-diverse individuals.  To achieve the award, organisations complete 6 simple steps that lead to dyslexic employees and customers being better supported.  The steps include awareness raising activity and identifying a dyslexia lead in the organisation.  In recognition of their support for dyslexia, organisations receive use of the Smart Award logo on their communications and publications, the Smart Award plaque to display and free licenses for online training modules along with other benefits.

30 May 2019

The debate continues over Warwickshire County Council’s dyslexia policy in schools as we covered in our Monthly Dyslexia News Digest in February this year.  The British Dyslexia Association continues to object to Warwickshire County Council’s policy describing it as a ‘ludicrous approach’ and stating that they are committed to ‘challenging this regressive and demeaning approach’.  Warwickshire County Council has withdrawn its guidance while it conducts a review, which is expected to be complete in June.

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Monthly Dyslexia News Digest – April 2019

In the headlines

12 April 2019

Philip Kirby and Maggie Snowling in association with the British Dyslexia Association have produced a detailed document called “Refuting the ‘dyslexia myth’: answering FAQs about dyslexia’s existence”.  They conclude that dyslexia affects 10% of the population and that it is a specific learning disorder, which varies in severity from mild to severe and has a genetic basis, which leads to differences in brain structure and function.  Download the full report from this link.

19 April 2019

Researchers at Cardiff Metropolitan University are using a tool they call RADAR, which stands for Rapid Assessment for Dyslexia and Abnormalities in Reading, to test children for signs of being dyslexic.  During the 15-minute testing process the child’s eye tracking is monitored and assessed to see if it is outside of the normal eye moving parameters used by successful readers.  Early diagnosis is known to really help children as it means they can be supported in their learning and do not lose confidence and self-esteem through not knowing why they are struggling to do things that their classmates can do more easily.

22 April 2019

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) has highlighted a dramatic increase in the number of Scottish pupils identified with autism, dyslexia and other conditions.  The figures are based on an analysis of the annual Scottish Government Pupil Census and show that between 2012 and 2018 the number of pupils identified with autism spectrum disorder, for example, in publicly funded primary, secondary and special schools has more than doubled.

The increase is partly due to better recognition and diagnosis of the conditions.

At the same time as more pupils are being diagnosed as needing extra support, more cuts are being made to ASN support in schools with decreasing numbers of specialist teachers, behaviour support staff and educational psychologists. There has been a reported cut in spend of £883 per pupil with ASN since 2012.

Follow us on Twitter.  We are @DyslexiaBytes

Monthly Dyslexia News Digest – March 2019

In the headlines

4 March 2019

Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India has provoked outrage by seeming to poke fun at dyslexia.   His comment appeared to be an attempt to ridicule his political rival.  Many have demanded that he apologise for his clumsy remark and the view of dyslexia that underpins it.

10 March 2019

Harry Potter publishers Bloomsbury Publishing are releasing a range of books adapted for people with dyslexia.  The books are in large dyslexia-friendly fonts and have tinted paper to reduce glare and provide maximum contrast.

18 March 2019

Acas, the UK employment watchdog is recommending that companies create ‘neurodiversity champions’ to help support neuro-diverse staff members.  The advice is that by creating a more inclusive workplace, organisations would be opened up to a pool of talent that might otherwise be overlooked.

28 March 2019

The Sunday Times and Fiona Gill, daughter of the late AA Gill have announced the AA Gill Award for next emergent food critic, in his honour.  The winner of the award will receive a £5,000 prize.   AA Gill was severely dyslexic and his articles had to be transcribed over the phone but this did nothing to detract from his witty and intelligent restaurant reviews.

Follow us on Twitter. We are @DyslexiaBytes

Monthly Dyslexia News Digest – February 2019

In the headlines

1 February 2019

The TES reports that Warwickshire County Council are sticking with their guidance document that questions the science around dyslexia despite being criticised by the House of Lords over it last Autumn.  Their stance is backed by Julian Elliot, Professor of Education at Durham University.  However, Helen Boden, Chief Executive of the British Dyslexia Association hit back saying that the Council’s stance was ‘ludicrous’ and she vowed to battle its ‘regressive and demeaning approach’.

21 February 2019

Digital Journal reports on a company called Lexplore, which uses AI technology to collect eye gaze data from children reading a screen of text.  The company suggests using it on children between 2 and 5 years old to establish their reading level and determine whether the child has problems with the saccadic eye movements used in reading.

28 February 2019

Jane Broadis, a teacher in the South-East of England has tweeted a powerful reverse poem written by one of her 10-year-old pupils on the subject of dyslexia.   She signed the poem AO.  It has received an extremely positive reaction online and been picked up by the world’s media.

Follow us on Twitter.  We are @DyslexiaBytes

Monthly Dyslexia News Digest – January 2019

In the headlines

8 January 2019

Kath Wood of Remploy writes that teachers and trainers in the Further Education and Training sector may be missing the potential in their learners who have dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD or Autism.  She says it is important to appreciate neuro-diversity and see their different strengths like visual thinking, the ability to spot patterns and themes and their creativity.  Teachers/Trainers must take into account individual learning styles to help everyone reach their potential.

16 January 2019

Chris McNorgan, a psychologist at the University of Buffalo, has produced a neuro-imaging study to help develop tests for early identification of dyslexia.  Using fMRI scans on 24 participants of ages 8 – 13, taking part in rhyming tasks, the research seems to show a lack of coordinated processing in the four brain areas known as ‘the reading network’ in the children who struggled with the tasks.

23 January 2019

Made By Dyslexia has produced some awareness training films using dyslexic celebrities including Keira Knightly, Orlando Bloom and Darcey Bussell.  The films cover topics including dyslexic strengths, dyslexic challenges, how to create an inclusive classroom and how to identify dyslexia.

Direct links to the first two films on youtube follow –

24 January 2019

Professor Robert Plomin, from the Behavioural Genetics Department at King’s College London claims that diagnosing dyslexia is wrong as there is ‘nothing to diagnose’. He controversially claims that there is no dividing line where you have it or do not.  He claims that it is ‘a dimension’.  Others argue that dyslexia has a wider impact than just causing reading difficulties.  Helen Boden, Chief Executive of the British Dyslexia Association states that it is ‘a complex neurological difference’.

Monthly Dyslexia News Digest – December 2018

In the headlines

8 December 2018

Ann Clucas, who has worked as a teacher, a head of department and a SENCO has shared the three classroom strategies she discovered dyslexic pupils most want their teachers to use.   Firstly, they want to be given enough time to do a task, secondly, they need visual support for example using diagrams, pictures and mind maps to convey information and using a font size of between 12 and 14 pts for any text and providing printed out copies of any PowerPoint slides so they can follow along easier in class and thirdly, they would like discreet help by having a prearranged learning buddy or using red and green cards on their desk to signal if they need help or not.

12 December 2018

Cathryn Knight, Lecturer in Education at Swansea University writes on the website The Conversation about her recent research into what teachers know about dyslexia.  Her survey found that three quarters of her sample understood it to be having problems with writing, reading and spelling.  They had no knowledge of the potential additional issues for dyslexics of trouble expressing themselves, phonological processing differences, decoding difficulties and memory problems.  She also reports that the teachers themselves felt they did not receive enough training on dyslexia.

18 December 2018

Caroline Henshaw reports in the TES that the Department for Education (DfE) is scrapping the need for multiple dyslexia assessments from February 2019.  Previously, students who had been assessed with dyslexia at school had to undertake costly second assessments after the age of 16 to receive support at university or work.  Fees for the assessments could range from £600 to £800.  The move has been welcomed by dyslexia charities as ‘dyslexia does not go away’.

Monthly Dyslexia News Digest – November 2018

In the headlines

5 November 2018

Campaigner Ross Duncan writes an impassioned plea for more inclusion of neuro-diverse people in the workplace. He explains that given the right support someone with dyslexia can be an enormous asset to a company, particularly in the workplace of the future where their skills of vision, perseverance, problem solving, empathy, delegation and creativity will be vital. He is recommending an inclusive and ‘neuro-friendly’ workplace but he knows this will require a cultural change in recruitment policies and training procedures.

11 November 2018

Driver Youth Trust’s Director of Education, Jules Daulby has written a piece for Schools Week about how to get the most positive effects from specialist teachers in schools.   Over her career she has seen specialist teaching go from being a free service provided by the Local Authority to a traded service through the local authority, or bought in by schools privately or sometimes a full-time specialist teacher might have been trained using funding from the Department for Education following the Rose Report of 2009. She feels that the specialist teacher should be assessing, advising and implementing strategies both in the classroom and in interventions. She recommends that the other teaching staff see how the specialist teacher works and what they do so as to provide CPD to the classroom teaching staff in the area of literacy difficulties in children.

13 November 2018

James Rix, Founder and CEO of Harrix Group writes in FE News about his delight in hearing the content of EY’s report on the future of work. The report states that the skills that a dyslexic person has will be vital in the future workplace. He points out that one of the key conclusions of the report is that dyslexia is still regarded by teachers, employers and the Government as something to be overcome whereas the authors of the report see it as a difference and something that is valuable to society and business.   Dyslexic individuals have different abilities to neuro-typical people – strength in creativity, problem solving and communication skills.

28 November 2018

The European Dyslexia Charter has been launched at the European Parliament in Brussels by MEP Francis Zammit Dimech, with the aim of giving dyslexic people more opportunities to fulfil their aspirations in life. The Charter has been developed because research has established that there is a high level of disparity in understanding and addressing dyslexia across the 28 EU states. Many dyslexics still feel a stigma about the condition. It is estimated that the European dyslexic population is between 50 to 100 million people.

Click on the following link to read the full document –

Monthly Dyslexia News Digest – October 2018

In the headlines

1 October 2018

A third of Local Authorities face a shortage of dyslexia teachers despite the 2009 pledge from Ed Balls, then Education Secretary, to spend £10million to train 4000 teachers as dyslexia specialists. The Driver Youth Trust have discovered that in the years since the pledge was made only half of the allocated funds have been spent and only 3000 specialists have been trained. The Driver Youth Trust’s Freedom of Information request also discovered that the Department for Education does not record where the trained teachers live and work.

2 October 2018

Matt Hancock MP, Health Secretary, has spoken about his dyslexia for the first time in print for an interview with GQ magazine. He was only diagnosed at university at 19 years old. He talks about how important technology has been for him particularly Microsoft spellcheck. He feels that dyslexia has helped him to think laterally because he has to work round problems. He is still a slow reader so has to have documents written in a ‘pithy way’ and he writes in the same way himself.

3 October 2018

Dyslexia support in schools is being made a priority in Borders Schools by the Scottish Borders Council. They are going to run a training programme for staff and issue a comprehensive set of operational guidelines for primary and secondary schools. Councillor Carol Hamilton, Executive Member for Children and Young People has said that the Council wants to make sure that children with dyslexia are ‘identified in a timely way and are provided with appropriate support’.

4 October 2018

Professor Nigel Lockett, the Dyslexic Professor, who first appeared in the Monthly Dyslexia News Digest in May 2017, is continuing his campaigning for better understanding of dyslexia as a learning difference not a learning disability. He went public with his own dyslexia in 2017 to help people see that anything is possible with the right support.  He blogs at and is Professor of Entrepreneurship at Lancaster University.

4 October 2018

McDonald’s branches in Sweden supported World Dyslexia Day this year by making all of their digital outdoor ad displays simulate the effect of dyslexia by jumbling up the letters out of order. The in-restaurant menus did the same. The ad campaign was an attempt to demonstrate the daily frustrations for dyslexic people.

Here is a short film about the campaign on youtube –

9 October 2018

Made By Dyslexia has published a report called “The Value of Dyslexia: Dyslexic strengths and the changing world of work” on future work-related skills and abilities and how dyslexics possess them. They are campaigning for neuro-diversity in business and better support for dyslexic children in school so they can reach their full potential.

13 October 2018

Read the full report “The Value of Dyslexia” from Made By Dyslexia and EY at the following link.

15 October 2018

The first Global Dyslexia Summit was held in London on October 15 and was livestreamed on facebook here

15 October 2018

Nick Jones the creator of the private members’ club chain Soho House has given an interview to GQ Magazine about how he feels that his dyslexia has helped him as an entrepreneur. He says that he was lucky that his Mother spotted his dyslexia at age 11 or 12 and sent him to Shiplake College, which specialises in dyslexia. He says that his dyslexia makes him look at things differently and create things differently.

23 October 2018

Alistair Low, a games designer based in Dundee, has produced a game to show players what it is like to have dyslexia. The game is called A Familiar Fairytale and is text-based. It uses jumbled letters to simulate the frustrations typically experienced by someone with dyslexia.

There is a short taster demo of the game here at this link –

Dyslexia Scotland Education Conference – Dyslexia: my wider world

Come and visit us at the Dyslexia Scotland Conference.

Date: Saturday 27 October 2018

Time: 9:00am – 4:15pm (Registration begins at 9:00am and the conference starts at 9:30am)

Venue: University of Strathclyde (Technology and Innovation Centre), 99 George Street, Glasgow G1 1RD.

Audience: this conference will appeal mainly to primary and secondary class teachers, Headteachers, support for learning practitioners and other educators working with children and young people with dyslexia in a learning setting.