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 The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister