Teachers say they cannot cope with needs of dyslexic children

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The Independent Online

The majority of state school teachers lack confidence in educating dyslexic pupils, a survey for Britain's biggest teaching union shows.

Fewer than one in 14 say they would be "very confident" in identifying a child with dyslexia while only 9 per cent say they would be "very confident" in teaching such a pupil. The survey, by the National Union of Teachers (NUT), reveals the vast majority believe they do not have enough training to deal with special needs children.

The finding follows the revelation on Monday that the former education secretary Ruth Kelly pulled her son out of a state school and sent him to a £15,000-a-year private prep school. She said she did not believe state schools near her home in Tower Hamlets, east London, had the expertise to deal with his needs.

The NUT's survey argues that it is the Government's fault - through failing to provide the resources for adequate training - that teachers feel they lack the confidence to cope with special needs children. "An overwhelm-ing number of teachers in mainstream schools feel that they lack support and professional development in teaching children with special educational needs," it concludes.

One hundred teachers from a wide range of local authorities took part in the survey and several warned of increasing disruption in schools brought about by the Government's policy of "inclusion". This means all parents should have the right to choose a mainstream school for their children. One teacher said: "I support the ideal of inclusion in schools. However, without appropriate training and support in the classroom, teachers cannot do the job effectively.

"In my experience, if it happens, it's ad hoc and in corridors or a few rushed exchanges after lessons."

Nearly three-quarters felt they did not have enough additional trained support in the classroom. On dyslexia, 77 per cent said they would like extra training to cope.

John Bangs, head of education at the NUT, said: "The vast majority of teachers don't feel properly qualified with the skills and expertise they need."