Kingston University Launches Project To Give Teaching Students Specialist Dyslexia Training

Kingston University is embarking on a project to provide its initial teacher training students with the skills and knowledge to support pupils who present with dyslexia or other conditions that affect their literacy skills.

The new initiative will see the University employ a full-time specialist dyslexia tutor, who will work with students and staff, as well as the Education Department’s partner schools, to provide enhanced knowledge of the challenges some pupils can encounter with reading and writing.

It aims to help trainee teachers support children presenting with dyslexia in schools more confidently and effectively, with the tutor providing dedicated support to students enrolled across all the University’s education courses – including early years, primary and secondary programmes.

The project is being supported by the Driver Youth Trust, which will sponsor the tutor for an initial two-year period. The charity was set up to ensure all learners struggling with reading and writing get an education responsive to their needs.

Associate Professor Dr Daryl Maisey said the project aligned with the University’s values and its commitment to ensuring every student graduated with the skills and knowledge most valued by employers. “This additional knowledge will give them an extra edge when they go to work in schools and other educational settings and help them make a real difference to pupils’ learning,” she added.

Sarah Driver heads the Driver Youth Trust with her husband, Mark, who has dyslexia along with three of their four children. She believes teachers are perfectly placed to make a significant impact on pupils presenting with dyslexia while they are in their formative years. “Teachers are the people who can make the biggest difference to a child’s life but unfortunately, at the moment, they get very little training on how to support someone who struggles with their literacy skills,” she said.

“This is a really exciting project that is key to making the systemic changes needed to ensure every child can access education, particularly as an estimated one in 10 children have dyslexia, and help teachers adapt their approach to make it more inclusive.”

At a launch event to kick off the project, students from across the University’s teaching courses and staff from the Education Department heard personal experiences from speakers who have dyslexia.  They recounted how their educational experiences could have been different had their teachers understood how to support pupils who found developing literacy skills more challenging.

As part of the project, a research study will examine the impact the initiative has. Students completing the training delivered by the specialist tutor will have the chance to feed back on their experiences to help develop the programme further and potentially inform similar initiatives at other educational institutions. “We want this to be the start of something more long term,” Dr Maisey said. “We very much hope this approach can be rolled out by other universities and colleges, not just in the UK but also around the world.”

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