Third of councils have no specialist dyslexia teachers, study finds

A third of councils do not have sufficient specialist dyslexia teachers, a new study has found, as £10m recruitment pledge falls short.

Research by the Driver Youth Trust found 54 local authorities in England do not include the provision of any localised, specialist teachers in dyslexia, literacy, specific learning difficulties, or educational psychologists in their local offer.

The finding, released to coincide with Dyslexia Awareness Week this week, comes ten years after then-education secretary Ed Balls pledged to spend £10m to get “at least one specialist teacher for each local group of schools”.

A freedom of information request by the Driver Youth Trust charity found that the government only ever spent just over half the money – with 3,000 dyslexia-specific teachers trained, rather than the 4,000 promised.

Jules Daulby, director of education at Driver Youth Trust, said: “It has long been clear that children who struggle with reading and writing require specialist support, it is concerning that authorities across the country do not have an adequate supply of specialists to support children in their area.”

A separate study by the charity published last week found that pupils with special educational needs have dramatically different success rates across the country when learning to read.

Just six per cent of children with an education and health care plan in Coventry reached the expected standard in phonics screening this year, compared with 47 per cent of children in the London borough of Hammersmith.

A child with an EHCP in inner London is 50 per cent more likely to reach the expected standard in the check compared with a pupil in the north west, east or west midlands, the study found.

Daulby has called on SEND learners to be given the “same level of priority that is afforded to those who are socio-economically disadvantaged and for an increase in the availability and effectiveness of specialist services for those with SEND”.

Driver Youth Trust aims to improve the life chances of children, with a focus on those with literacy difficulties and who may have SEND, particularly children with dyslexia.

A Department of Education spokesperson said: “Our ambition for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is exactly the same for every other child – to achieve well in school and college, find employment and go on to live happy and fulfilled lives. That is why we have introduced Education Health and Care plans, to provide support tailored to individual pupils needs.

“We have also reformed initial teacher training to include modules on specific types of special educational needs and disabilities – so that all new teachers understand the needs of pupils and are well equipped to support them.”

They added the £6 billion national high needs budget this year is the “highest on record”, up from £5 billion in 2013