As part of the Evening Standard’s recently established ‘Get London Reading’ scheme, an interesting article was published last week about the struggles of a boy named David. At his current age of nine, David has a reading age of just four. Since he was very young, he displayed clear signs of being a highly visual learner and has since excelled in artistic subjects. His memory also, his mother commented, is astounding. And yet when it comes to reading, he is completely at a loss. In the five years since starting school his reading age has progressed by just one month.
What is most upsetting about David’s story is the tragic familiarity of it. There are so many children like this, who have found themselves on the outer perimeters of their primary education, unable to work at the same level as their classmates in terms of their literacy. Indeed the statistics speak for themselves: 1 in 4 children are entering secondary education unable to read and write proficiently.
But it’s not just about the basic ability to read and write. We need to look at this in terms of the personal affect this experience has on children for the rest of their lives. Confidence reaches an all-time low and parents feel equally helpless, desperate not to let their children go through life experiencing this sense of inadequacy and failure that has sadly come to characterise their early school years.
As far as Easyread is concerned David displays all the tell-tale characteristics of a boy who is sight-reading, and simply needs to learn to decode when he reads. He is bright, he is well-behaved and he has excellent visual recall. He simply learns in a different way.
Interestingly, a Dyslexia specialist refused to diagnose David at age 6 because it was felt that he would naturally ‘catch-up’. Meanwhile we have hundreds of children completing Easyread from as young as age 5, with parents seeing results that can only be described as life-changing for their child’s educational development.
David’s mother is now embroiled in a fierce court battle with her son’s school and the connected local council regarding their harmfully hesitant attitude to diagnosing David as Dyslexic. Her desperation is evident, and her frustration at being overlooked by the education system is completely justified. This need to wait to be ‘rubber stamped’ with Dyslexia by a local authority is an increasingly worrying issue. It is literally ruining children’s lives. Meanwhile any child who has evident literacy difficulties, diagnosis or no diagnosis, can have access to our system. Every child is different, every case is unique. But everyone deserves the chance to learn to read and write.