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Last Updated: Monday, 8 January 2007, 15:38 GMT
The struggle for learning support
Many families cannot afford private special needs tuition
Former Education Minister Ruth Kelly has said her decision to send one of her four children to a private school was taken after advice that he needed specialist support.

Here single mother Vivienne Brooks, from Winchester, says the choice to educate children with learning difficulties at private school is not an option for many parents.

Dyslexia runs in my family, as it often does. My son Benjamin was a dyslexic child and we chose pay privately to give him extra tuition between the ages of five and 13. He is now an adult.

He stayed in mainstream school, but had extra tuition once a week. This basically taught him to read and write. By the time he was six, he was not writing or reading.

The tutor started from the beginning in an old-fashioned way with text books.

I picked him up from school each week and drove him to the tutor's house where he was taught for three hours - solely on reading and writing.

If he was in a good mood, they would get a lot done. But if he was in a bad mood, they would just have a cup of tea and a biscuit and chat.

A-level success

Now he is 21 and has passed three A-levels in Classics, History and Geography.

He didn't want to go to university - he did it for a year, but found it really hard because so much has to be put down on paper.

He is now working for a building company and looking for a job.

I have listened to what Ruth Kelly has done, and I understand she has listened to advice given to her.

But, if her son is seriously dyslexic and she hadn't had the money she would have been in the same situation as the rest of us.

The fact that she was able to place him in a private school is very fortunate, but as a single parent of a dyslexic child, I was unable to do this. Private education was simply not an option.

A look at Labour's special needs education policies

Kelly 'doing right thing' for son
08 Jan 07 |  Politics
Ruth Kelly statement: full text
08 Jan 07 |  Politics
Profile: Ruth Kelly
05 May 06 |  Education

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