Hundreds of dyslexic children will be forced to wait for up to a year for crucial support in class due to a lack of school resources, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal today.
Over 260 children have been told they must now go on a waiting list for extra classroom support — such as much-needed specialist teaching to prevent dyslexic children falling behind — even though many had been given a commitment they would get support next term.
The crisis, which has been felt hardest in the South Eastern and the North Eastern Library Board areas, emerged after more than 300 new pupils were identified as requiring similar support for the same learning difficulty during the current academic year. The figures have angered parents who are concerned that their children are losing out on support when they need it most.
The South Eastern Education and Library Board has admitted that 184 children must now wait a full year — until September 2010 — for the help.
A SEELB spokesman said: “The board has appointed two additional teachers to address the demand for additional support for pupils with dyslexia. Consequently, some 330 pupils will receive support in September 2009. A further bid for additional resources to address the waiting list was submitted to the Department of Education. The board awaits a response. The board regrets that pupils have to wait for a specialist teacher.”
Meanwhile, the North Eastern Education and Library Board has confirmed that an estimated 74 children will be on its waiting list for dyslexia support from September 2009. Among those waiting for support are Jake McCready (8) and Ashleigh McBurney (9) — both pupils at Dundonald Primary School. Their families are angry and worried about the delay.
Jake’s mum Diane said: “Jake was diagnosed with dyslexia in April and all I want is for him to get the help that his school is telling me he needs.”
Ashleigh’s mum Nicola said: “I cannot believe the amount of children who are in the same situation as Jake and Ashleigh.”
A Department of Education spokesman said the majority of schools had staff awareness training in developing a dyslexia-friendly learning environment.