Dyslexia Matters

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Dyslexia Matters's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Dyslexia Matters is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Directors Liz Blackburn and Julia
Empowering learners
for a better future
Many people with dyslexia are successful, but statistics
show the potential downward spiral that undiagnosed
dyslexia can cause. The devastating effects can include
a loss of self-esteem, underachievement, mental health issues,
poor job prospects and ultimately, for some, offending. The
directors of Dyslexia Matters, Liz Blackburn and Julia Hewerdine,
The Parliamentary Review
that they have developed a
solution that can help people with dyslexia across the UK – The
Dyslexia Award.
We have trained over 400 specialist teachers and assessors working across all
age groups, impacting tens of thousands through a cascade effect. We have
achieved this through local training and investing in an online learning platform,
with candidates accessing our courses flexibly. Successful practitioners achieve
a nationally accepted “gold standard” level 5 diploma in “Teaching Learners
with Dyslexia or Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD)” or level 7, “Teaching and
We focus on the practical application of well-founded research to disrupt
or prevent any potential downward spiral. As teaching assistants are often
the people conducting interventions in schools, we welcome them as well as
qualified teachers onto our courses, receiving excellent feedback about their
positive contribution to their settings. We work with Jobcentre Plus in providing
programmes for unemployed people with dyslexia or SpLD, and we provide
consultancy to the private, public and third sector. We have also developed a
course for parents.
»Directors: Liz Blackburn and
Julia Hewerdine
»Founded in 2010
»Based in Cambridge, London
and Woking
»No. of employees: 18
»Services: Online and face-to-
face training for individuals
with dyslexia
Dyslexia Matters
Highlighting best practice
»Poor literacy, estimated costs: up to £2.5 billion per year
»Ten per cent of children are dyslexic
»One in six people struggle with literacy levels below that expected
of 11-year-olds
»6 million adults are functionally illiterate (Driver Youth Trust 2013)
»53 per cent of prisoners at Chelmsford Prison diagnosed with
Offering an excellent service
We strive for excellence. We have
consistently received positive reports
from our awarding body’s external
quality assurers regarding the quality
of our training. This year’s report
stated, “This centre delivers courses
of an exceptionally high standard,
turning out well-prepared teachers and
assessors, prized by the organisations
for which they work.” In our Investors
in People review, they noted we set
up Dyslexia Matters, “with a view to
teaching others how to teach people
with dyslexia properly and effectively,
giving them the right skills and
knowledge, not just providing them
with a tick-box qualification”.
They commented positively on our
“people-centric, flexible and inclusive
culture where individuals feel involved,
empowered and valued.” We pride
ourselves on offering a tailored,
personalised service, recruiting our
assessors not only for their skills and
expertise in the field, but also for their
people skills.
We are expanding our provision to
continue to address a fragmented
system of support for those with Special
Educational Needs and Disabilities. The
Driver Trust recommended that “Schools
should target training that is focused
on teaching practice at classroom
teachers and heads of department
as well as specialist staff.” The Rose
Review (2009) divides training into three
levels: core skills, an awareness of SEN
that everyone, whatever the setting,
should have; advanced skills, how to
adapt teaching and learning to meet
a particular SEN; and finally, specialist
skills, the in-depth level of training we
have alwaysprovided.
Schools and other settings were
informing us that they had already
received core skills training through
the cascaded, government-funded
“Teaching for Neurodiversity” and could
see that we could offer the specialist
training, but they were looking for
a shorter, cheaper, research-based
qualification at the advanced level to
complement training available on autism
and speech and language difficulties.
Restraints on budgets meant they
could not afford to teach students with
difficulties on a one-to-one basis; they
were teaching in groups and needed
to know how best to marry individual
needs with the intervention. Our market
research among specialist teachers and
potential candidates across the UK,
collaboration with a local authority,
the University of Bedfordshire, and the
Innovation Bridge project culminated
in writing the course materials for
The Dyslexia Award with Professor
Janice Wearmouth of the University
The Dyslexia Award,
support learners through
group interventions
qualification at
the advanced
of Bedfordshire. She has extensive
experience and expertise in working in
special educational needs and inclusion.
Our aim was to improve and evaluate
outcomes for learners with dyslexia,
and to offer candidates collaboration
and expert challenge. The award is a
12-credit course in supporting learners
through group interventions, accredited
through OCN London at level 5, with
courses also available at level 2 and 3,
the equivalent of GCSE and A level.
Securing the future of
individuals with dyslexia
The future of learners with dyslexia lies
in how effectively experts like us can
successfully engage with policymakers
to challenge the status quo and
improve the lot of people with
dyslexia. Although there will always be
a need for trained specialist teachers
and assessors, which we will continue
to provide, the strength of The Dyslexia
Award is its flexibility and adaptability.
Education has traditionally led the way
in the field of dyslexia, with improved
awareness and provision having
developed over previous decades, but
we would like to extend and adapt
the Award to benefit people with
dyslexia wherever there is a need, so
that the surrounding people recognise
the signs of dyslexia and understand
how to provide support. We are,
for instance, already talking to HMP
Peterborough about adapting The
Dyslexia Award for their needs. We are
also piloting the award with a forward-
looking local authority that wants to
ensure there is as much grass-roots
expertise in dyslexia in schools, the
middle section of Rose’s pyramid,
as well as access to a few specialist
teachers for those learners with the
most complex needs.
We created a tailored version of the
award, adapted for Early Years settings,
which was developed to prevent many
of the difficulties that learners with
dyslexia face later in schooling and life.
Similarly, the award can be a solution,
for example, in secondary schools
where uptake of training is challenging,
for higher education and public
services. Equipping educators with the
sustainable skill set they need to see
past behaviour to the underlying causes
will benefit everyone: the pupil, their
family, the teacher, the community
and society. We continue to welcome
discussions with policymakers about
driving provisionforwards.
educators with
the sustainable
skill set they
need to see past
behaviour to the
causes that will
Collaboration with
colleagues enhances
development of new


This article was sponsored by Dyslexia Matters. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy