HC Deb 01 March 2000 vol 345 cc305-6W
Mr. Coaker

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what measures he has taken to support children with dyslexia in schools; and if he will make a statement. [111979]

Jacqui Smith

Under the Education Act 1996, schools and local education authorities have a duty to identify and make suitable provision for all children with special educational needs, including children with dyslexia. The Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs, which came into effect on 1 September 1994, gives guidance to schools and local education authorities on how to meet this duty. Paragraphs 3:60 to 3:63 provide guidance on specific learning difficulties and have particular reference to dyslexia. The Code is currently being revised to update the guidance and provide examples of good practice, with an increased emphasis on early identification and support.

In recognition of the need for partnership working to address children's dyslexia a seminar was held in July 1999 bringing together the main Government Departments and agencies, and external partners for an exchange of views on the key educational issues. Ways in which individual expertise and resources can be pooled were identified, and a consensus reached over a shared agenda for tackling issues in the areas of early identification, teacher training, and the use of ICT. An informal working group has since been focusing on the training of teachers of children with dyslexia.

To assist schools in recognising dyslexia we have produced simple guidance which provides hints to primary school teachers to help them identify children who may be dyslexic. In addition the Department has recently provided a grant to help the British Dyslexia Association reprint the schools resource pack entitled "Achieving dyslexia friendly schools". Two copies of the pack have been distributed to all local education authorities in England. With funding from the Department, the Dyslexia Institute is undertaking a two year study programme which seeks to evaluate the effects of structured programmes of intervention for seven-year-old pupils who are experiencing specific difficulties in learning to read, write and spell. Two key aspects of the programme are to develop activities that parents can do at home and to share the knowledge and skills of specialist teachers more widely.