Government orders inquiry into teaching of children with dyslexia

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The Independent Online

Ministers will today announce a major review of the way an estimated 300,000 dyslexic children are taught in state schools.

Sir Jim Rose, the former Ofsted inspector heading an inquiry into the primary school curriculum, will be asked to review help offered to dyslexic pupils.

Announcing the review to The Independent, Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, said he believed Sir Jim's review would provide "firm evidence of the way forward, convince the sceptics that dyslexia exists and tell us how best to get these children the help they deserve".

"If a child falls behind, their life chances can be blighted. What I'm announcing today will ensure we put the needs of dyslexic children first and ensure every child has the best start in life."

Mr Balls' call for a review comes after The Independent revealed how a ground-breaking project which achieved major success in helping hundreds of dyslexic children and others struggling to read and write at primary school was to be introduced across Britain.

Springboard for Children, an education charity backed by the British Dyslexia Association, has achieved a 90 per cent success rate in returning children with severe literacy problems to mainstream classrooms. The scheme, which involves one-to-one teaching sessions with every child struggling to read, is being used in a dozen schools in Manchester and London. It will be introduced in up to 10 other inner-city areas, bringing a lifeline to 10,000 children suffering from dyslexia and other difficulties with reading and writing.

Mr Balls will outline his plans for a review at a meeting with dyslexic charities, parents and teachers today. He said: "All of us want our children to succeed and get as far as their talents can take them but we know, too, that some children need extra help. It is every parent's nightmare that their child might fall behind and perhaps never make up lost ground."

Meanwhile, evidence of the link between a pupil's background and their exam results is revealed today. Children in the poorest neighbourhoods have a more than 50 per cent chance of attending a school which fails to meet the Government's benchmark of 30 per cent of pupils getting five A* to C grade passes at GCSE. If they live in one of the most affluent suburbs there is a 3 per cent chance of failure.

The figures are in an answer to a parliamentary question put to the Schools minister, Jim Knight, by the Liberal Democrat education spokesman David Laws. Mr Laws said: "We simply can't accept a situation where over half of the schools in the most depressed areas are failing to get the overwhelming majority of their pupils up to a good exam standard."