Dyslexia (Support)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 2nd December 2021.

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Photo of Rachael Hamilton Rachael Hamilton Conservative

2. To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to support people in education or training in rural areas who have dyslexia. (S6O-00473)

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

We work with Dyslexia Scotland to provide support across the country to people with dyslexia. In January 2020, we published a final report marking the delivery of the recommendations in the 2014 review “Making Sense: Education for Children and Young People with Dyslexia in Scotland” to improve outcomes for learners with dyslexia.

Learners can access support under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, and financial assistance is available in colleges and universities to tailor support to the individual needs of students.

Skills development and training opportunities are available to people with dyslexia through Skills Development Scotland’s modern apprenticeship programme and its careers, information, advice and guidance service.

Photo of Rachael Hamilton Rachael Hamilton Conservative

Adult dyslexia assessment is crucial in supporting people who have not been identified in further education or training, but the Scottish National Party Government still does not offer free dyslexia assessment to adults. Over the past 18 months, I have repeatedly pushed the Government to provide such a service.

Young people and adults with unidentified dyslexia need access to free assessment and support because, without it, their life chances are potentially being hindered. Will the minister back the campaign to provide free dyslexia assessments for all adults in education and training? Will she also commit to undertake an assessment of unidentified dyslexia in colleges, universities and workplaces?

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

I believe that Rachael Hamilton wrote to my colleague Richard Lochhead on the matter last month, given his portfolio responsibilities, and received a response from him. I will not add to that here.

However, we are assured of the fact that there is support available to people with dyslexia in all parts of the country, including rural communities such as the one that Rachael Hamilton represents. That includes access to Dyslexia Scotland’s services and support at every stage of a person’s education and during apprenticeships, as well as access to Skills Development Scotland’s careers support services.

Photo of Martin Whitfield Martin Whitfield Labour

Over the past decade, there has been an erosion in the number of additional support needs teachers, which declined by 578 between 2010 and 2020, the date of the report to which the minister referred. The number of ASN teachers reduced from 56 to 35 in East Lothian, from 136 to 100 in Dumfries and Galloway, from 191 to 161 in the Highlands, and from 103 to 83 in Moray. That is despite a 90 per cent increase over the same period in the number of pupils who were identified as having ASN.

Should we be proud of that record in Scotland?

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

It is important to understand that, under the Additional Support for Learning (Scotland) Act 2004, local authorities are responsible for identifying and meeting the additional support needs of their pupils and that local authorities and schools should prioritise personalised support to meet the individual physical and emotional needs of all children and young people, especially in the light of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.