HC Deb 03 April 2000 vol 347 cc294-5W
Mr. Llew Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans he has to improve the special tuition available to dyslexic children. [116974]

Jacqui Smith

It is the responsibility of schools and local education authorities (LEAs) to ensure that children with dyslexia receive appropriate tuition. Schools and LEAs must have regard to guidance in the Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs (SEN). This guidance recognises a continuum of special educational needs and advocates a staged approach to meeting such needs. The Code provides advice on the needs of children with specific learning difficulties, including dyslexia. A revised version of the Code is expected to be issued next year, which will place a stronger emphasis on the importance of early identification of SEN, so the appropriate help can be given as soon as possible. Under the National Literacy Strategy all children are being taught phonics, spelling and grammar. This has been shown to be particularly helpful for children with mild dyslexia. Children who demonstrate particular difficulties at word level, which are due to their SEN, can be identified much earlier and more focused support added. Such children have also been helped by the requirement, since September 1998, for newly qualified teachers to show that they can identify pupils who have special educational needs, including dyslexia, and know where to get help in order to give positive and targeted support to children.

My Department is also part funding a two year study programme by the Dyslexia Institute in partnership with the Centre for Reading and Language Studies at the University of York. The research has at its heart a controlled intervention study designed to evaluate the effects of structured programmes of intervention for seven-year-old pupils who are experiencing specific difficulties to read, write and spell.