Richard Branson has written an inspiring piece on his
website posted on ‘A’ Level results day saying that ‘grades do not define
you’. He states that many entrepreneurs
and business leaders had difficulties at school like he did. He argues that exams do not always measure
other ‘essential skills that the world needs’ like ‘reasoning, exploring,
communicating and positively influencing’.
19 August 2019
Helen Boden, CEO of the British Dyslexia Association, writes
an impassioned piece for The Independent on her opinion that dyslexics are
discriminated against by the current GCSE exam system. She feels that pupils should be able to use
technology for exams, which would better reflect the modern, digital
workplace. Spelling, punctuation and
grammar aids are integrated into the technology we use.
The Adult Dyslexia Centre has been given a grant of £1,500
by the Louis Baylis Trust. The money
will help them to continue their work of helping adults with dyslexia. Established in 2003, the Centre now supports
more than 300 people every year. They
offer assessments to children, information for employers and trainers on how to
support dyslexic staff members.
The BDA has attended a round table discussion event at the
House of Lords on the issue of access to social security by vulnerable
users. The system is impenetrable to
anyone with challenges associated with literacy, organisation and memory. The BDA has submitted an evidence paper of
case studies that highlights and details the issues and makes recommendations
A bit of a quiet month here at Monthly Dyslexia News Digest,
which allows us to bring you other stories like this great one-minute clip by
Made By Dyslexia on Dyslexic Thinking.
The charity works to raise awareness of everything that people with
dyslexia have brought to the world for example some of the world’s greatest
inventions, brands and art. All this
innovation is down to the dyslexic way of thinking using Visualising,
Imagining, Communicating, Reasoning, Connecting and Exploring. Watch the clip here.
The Dyslexia Show is coming to Birmingham’s NEC next year on
20th and 21st March.
The free exhibition focussing on education, parents and carers and the
workplace will deliver a range of resources and services along with
inspirational speakers and CPD-accredited sessions. The show’s director and founder, Arran Smith,
intends the exhibition to raise awareness and share best practice.
5 June 2019
Another piece of HR research, this time conducted by Willis
Towers Watson, has found that one third of businesses are failing to support
neurodiverse workers. Employees with
dyslexia, dyscalculia and/or Asperger’s receive no additional support. The report suggests that companies should
hold workshops to raise awareness and offer workplace adjustments. Companies should embrace the perspectives and
value that neurodivergent employees could bring.
A Sheffield Employment Tribunal has ruled that Shelter must
pay £28,000 to James Bullers for unfairly dismissing him from his role as a
helpline worker at the charity. He
worked as a phone line advisor before joining the instant-messaging webchat
service. He was removed from that job
role because Shelter did not feel his written skills were good enough. Mr Bullers was subsequently diagnosed with
dyslexia and Shelter was found to not have complied with their duties towards
him under the Equality Act.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
There has been a reported cut in spend of £883
per pupil with ASN since 2012.
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.
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.
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’.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 –
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
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.
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.
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’.