§ Mr. Luce
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) whether he recognises dyslexia as a special education need under the Education Act 1981;
(2) in what way the Education Act 1981 will change or improve the treatment of dyslexic children.
§ Dr. Boyson
The Education Act 1981 does not classify children in terms of categories of handicap, but on the basis of their individual special educational needs. A child has special educational needs under the Act if he has a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made for him.
The Act places an obligation on local education authorities to secure that special educational provision is made for pupils who have special educational needs. It places a duty on school governors to use their best endeavours to secure that the special educational provision required by a pupil with special educational needs is made, 567W and that those needs are made known to all those who are likely to teach the child. It also requires governors to secure that teachers are aware of the importance of identifying, and providing for, pupils with special educational needs. More generally, the Act promotes the early identification of special educational needs, and the assessment of children with such needs to identify the precise nature of their learning difficulties and point the way to appropriate provision.
§ Dr Boyson
Successive Secretaries of State have been advised that the term "dyslexia" cannot usefully be employed for educational purposes. The term "specific learning difficulties" seems to provide a better description of the educational problems experienced by children said to be dyslexic. Early identification of children with such difficulties is important, but the arrangements for this are a matter of individual local education authorities.
§ Dr. Boyson
A report of the Secretary of State's advisory committee on handicapped children was published in February 1972 under the title "Children with Specific Reading Difficulties" to provide guidance on meeting the needs of such children. More recently, the Department has commissioned a programme of research which is designed to help teachers in identifying children with specific learning difficulties and in assessing and meeting their needs. The first outcome of this programme has been the publication of a critical review of research under the title "Children with Specific Learning Difficulties" (NFER—Nelson Publishing Company Ltd.—981).