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Last Updated: Monday, 12 December 2005, 15:07 GMT
New dyslexia role speeding ahead
Sir Jackie Stewart with Jack McConnell
Sir Jackie Stewart and Jack McConnell attended the launch
Motor racing legend Jackie Stewart has visited Aberdeen University at the launch of Scotland's first professorship in dyslexia.

Sir Jackie, who has the condition, hailed the move as ground-breaking.

First Minister Jack McConnell gave details of the 1.5m Chair of Inclusive Studies.

The aim is to study the effectiveness of training teachers to deal with pupils with learning problems such as dyslexia.

Surveys have shown that four out of five teachers received less than one hour on specific learning difficulties during their entire training programme, at a time when one in 10 pupils struggled to cope with school because they were dyslexic.

The funding from the Scottish Executive included posts for a senior lecturer and researcher as well as a professorship.

Sir Jackie Stewart
The lack of sufficient and appropriate teacher training in this field has a lot to answer for
Sir Jackie Stewart

Race ace Stewart, who was not diagnosed until he was 42, said he was made to feel "thick" at school and stressed the importance of the early recognition of "word blindness" and learning difficulties.

"The damage caused in human terms of not having early recognition of learning difficulties is colossal," he said.

"The lack of sufficient and appropriate teacher training in this field has a lot to answer for."

Stewart said the project would be "an example to the rest of the United Kingdom" of how to help the 10% of the population with the difficulty.

Children holding placards
The aim is to boost how teachers deal with children's dyslexia

He said: "The abuse that sufferers of dyslexia and other learning differences have suffered from teachers and their peers has driven a great deal of people to crime, alcoholism, drugs and even suicide."

Mr McConnell said: "Dyslexia and other learning difficulties need not hold any child back. That is why this project is so exciting.

"It will ensure new teachers are expertly trained in how to help children with dyslexia and learning difficulties."

Mr McConnell added: "It is possible for everyone to have potential and reach that potential and I am glad that Aberdeen University is going to pioneer this and be a beacon for the UK."

University principal Professor Duncan Rice said: "I believe that in time this project will be of major significance for Scotland's schoolchildren."

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