Suffolk MPs call for dyslexia screening in primary schools

West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock

Suffolk MP Matt Hancock has called for better measures to identify dyslexia in schools. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Suffolk MP Matt Hancock has proposed a new dyslexia bill in Parliament, which has been cosponsored by Ipswich MP Tom Hunt.

The politicians want universal screening for dyslexia in primary schools, with an estimated four out of five dyslexic children leaving school without their learning disorder being identified.

Both Mr Hancock and Mr Hunt have personal experiences with dyslexia, which has motivated the pair to advocate for better care for those with learning disabilities.

Mr Hancock, MP for West Suffolk, said: "I’m proud to be dyslexic. But it wasn’t always that way. As a teenager I didn’t know that I was dyslexic. I spent my school years focusing on maths and science subjects, always avoiding anything that required more than a few sentences."

Mr Hunt added: "I was diagnosed at the age of 12 with dyslexia and dyspraxia, and was able to get the support I needed.

"Unfortunately, many young people are not getting that same help that I received. This is something we need to change, to make sure that students get the right support."

Tom Hunt

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has backed Matt Hancock's bill. - Credit: House of Commons

During Mr Hancock's presentation in the Commons he described how the current situation is "a quiet scandal", and that there are "cheap and easy computer-based screening tools" that could be used to help diagnosis.

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He also called for training for all teachers as "all teachers are teachers of dyslexic children", as well as access to a dyslexia expert for all primary schools. 

The problems caused by unidentified dyslexia were made clear to Mr Hunt on a recent visit to a prison, as he explains: "It was clear to me that dyslexia is overrepresented in prisons.

"More than 50% of offenders are thought to have dyslexia.

"It just goes to show how high the stakes are for getting SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) provision right. Earlier diagnosis is a key component."

Mr Hancock added: "With the right screening and teaching, dyslexic children can make the most of their brilliant, neurodiverse minds. The thing is, dyslexic people think differently."

The bill received support from MPs, and will be introduced in the Commons in March 2022. 

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