Dyslexia group welcomes House of Lords response to ‘controversial’ literacy teaching guidance

Wednesday, 7th November 2018

Dig-iT (Dyslexia Information Group in Tamworth) has welcomed the news that Warwickshire County Council has withdrawn its ‘Teaching children and young people with literacy difficulties – Practice Guidance, February 2018’ for further review.

The decision comes after confirmation from the House of Lords that the Government recognises dyslexia as a disability as defined by the Equality Act 2010 and “believes in early diagnosis and early intervention”.

The controversial guidance document, co-written by Staffordshire County Council and distributed across Warwickshire and Staffordshire schools, had called into question scientific consensus on definitions and diagnosis of dyslexia. It had recommended that schools assess reading and writing skills for intervention and response rather than ‘diagnosis’.

Responding to concerns from parents, support groups and the British Dyslexia Association, questions were raised in The House of Lords on Tuesday 30th October 2018 by Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Addington who asked whether “Government will make sure that accurate diagnosis, which can be life-changing, is maintained for this group”.

Lord Agnew, Under-Secretary of State for The Schools System confirmed to Lord Addington that Government “recognise(s) the issue of dyslexia. Many children and young people who have SEN may have a disability under the Equality Act, and as I said, we strongly believe in early diagnosis and early intervention”.

House of Lords

Speaking on behalf of Dig-iT, co-founder Julie Cappleman-Morgan responded: “We had grave concerns about this document ourselves. Although it contains useful guidance on interventions, it appeared to focus on addressing literacy difficulties without consideration for their underlying causes. In our view, this seemed to contradict the government’s SEND Code of Practice, which places the duty on schools to undertake early identification, assessment and appropriate support for children who may have Special Educational Needs and Disabilities as defined under the Equality Act 2010.

We have received a number of telephone calls from anxious Tamworth parents who have told us that their school ‘no longer assesses for dyslexia’. We very much hope that Staffordshire County Council will follow in Warwickshire’s footsteps and review their guidance in order to comply with the legal frameworks set out in the SEND Code of Practice and Equality Act 2010 and to make clear to schools what their legal responsibilities are.”