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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 December 2007, 11:53 GMT
Pledge to do more for dyslexics
child writing
Dyslexics can have a variety of difficulties
Children with dyslexia are to receive extra help in some schools in England under a 3m pilot scheme.

The government says half of pupils in 10 areas will be given catch-up reading lessons or one-to-one help from dyslexia specialists.

The scheme will be rolled out across England if it is successful. Dyslexia charities are also being given grants.

Schools Secretary Ed Balls said a lack of understanding had previously branded intelligent young people as backward.

"In the past a grave lack of understanding about dyslexia left some highly intelligent young people branded as 'backwards' simply because they had some difficulties in reading or articulating themselves through writing," he said.

"Those days are largely gone, but there are still some old stigmas around and still not enough widespread understanding of dyslexia and support for the individuals who experience it.

"This condition should not hinder young people's education and life chances. Sadly, it all too often does. We need to be better at identifying pupils with dyslexia and then supporting them."
The right support and information can make the difference between a child who feels frustrated and excluded and one who feels confident and able to manage their dyslexia
Judi Stewart, BDA

The measures being announced would give parents and teachers more information, would help to identify pupils with dyslexia and assess the impact of support from specialist teachers, he said.

Charities helped

Pupils who receive help under the scheme will not need to have been given a statement of special needs - a process which can take considerable time and effort.

Parents sometimes complain that extra help is not readily available for their children unless they have been formally identified as having special educational needs.

The government has also announced it is giving 250,000 to Dyslexia Action over three years so it can expand pilots it already runs under the Partnership for Literacy scheme to another 10 schools.

The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) is to be given 150,000 over the next two years to develop its helpline which provides advice to teachers and parents.

Chief executive Judi Stewart said: "The BDA welcomes the secretary of state's interest and understanding of the needs of children who are dyslexic.

"The BDA Helpline is often inundated with calls and we are very pleased to have the opportunity to build our service.

"The right support and information can make the difference between a child who feels frustrated and excluded and one who feels confident and able to manage their dyslexia."

Kate Griggs of the "No to failure" programme and "Xtraordinary People" said: "We welcome the government's recognition that dyslexia is a serious issue for the education system, and one which requires real action.

"These pilots are a helpful start, and we look forward to working with the DCSF to make sure our schools have dyslexia specialist teachers who can help dyslexic children succeed and achieve their potential."

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