HC Deb 30 March 1993 vol 222 cc141-2
5. Mr. Nicholls

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what provision he has made for the teaching of dyslexic children in grant-maintained schools.

Mr. Forth

Where a pupil's special educational needs, including dyslexia, require a statement, provision is the responsibility of the local education authority. Where a pupil does not require a statement, primary responsibility for provision rests with the school and its governors, whether the school is grant maintained or not.

Mr. Nicholls

Does my hon. Friend agree that although dyslexia is an overused term, it is nevertheless a specific learning difficulty which should be addressed in a specific way? Does he also agree that the belief held by some schools and some local education authorities that is simply a general disability to be treated like any other disability condemns many children of above average ability to having their lives blighted because their full potential is never realised?

Mr. Forth

I find it almost incredible that anyone should have the attitude that my hon. Friend has described. If a child has a specific educational need, the local education authority must by law make an individual assessment of that need and must then make proper provision. My hon. Friend will know that among the many important advances in special educational provision under the Education Bill, which is currently in another place, is a code of practice which will introduce uniformity and standardisation in this important matter. That should go a long way towards eliminating any residue of the thinking that my hon. Friend describes. Any parents who are dissatisfied with the way in which their children are being treated by the local education authority have the right, which I hope that they will exercise, to appeal to the Secretary of State for a review.

Mr. Trimble

May I assure the Minister that the problem described by the hon. Member for Teignbridge (Mr. Nicholls) referred is not unique and that there is considerable reluctance within many education authorities to recognise dyslexia where it exists? I am glad to hear that there is to be a code of practice. Will the Minister take steps to ensure that the code is brought vigorously to the attention of local authorities so that people who have this problem, which does exist, will have a remedy?

Mr. Forth

Indeed, the code of practice is to be statutory. It is contained in the Education Bill and it will apply to the territories covered by that Bill. I cannot stray on to the territory represented by the hon. Gentleman, but I hope that the best practices which are now developing and the recognition of various types of special educational need will now be brought forward and clarified by the Bill and I am sure that they will be reflected, if they are not already, in all parts of the United Kingdom.

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