Emerson House

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

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 Emerson House is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.


CEO Cathryn Learoyd
Touch typing is a life
changing skill for a dyslexic
Emerson House is a teaching centre in west London that
addresses the special educational needs associated with
dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia. Established by two
pioneering educators in the UK, Jane Emerson and Dorian Yeo,
its literacy and mathematics programmes have helped children
struggling in their existing educational environment because
of a special educational need for more than 25 years. CEO and
Headmistress Cathryn Learoyd tells the
At Emerson every child can reach their potential and overcome barriers. We create
a safe and nurturing environment where children support each other and find
their love of learning. We use our own assessment in combination with other
specialists’ reports to prepare a tailored programme of teaching for each child.
Schools understand what dyslexia implies for dyslexic students, and importantly
that these children tend to under-function in exams, but as they get older with the
right support they can reach close to, and often achieve, their true level of cognitive
ability by the time they are in their final years of school and in higher education.
To reach their potential, a different and more intense level of education needs
to be provided. The dyslexic has a weaker working memory, and this is why
repetitive, multisensory learning is essential to develop literacy skills. The earlier
the remediation, the better the outcome for the child. Primary school is learning to
read, while secondary school is reading to learn, so if we allow our dyslexic children
to sink at primary school, they will miss out on all their potential. With the right
support, reading, writing, spelling and number skills can be dramatically improved
and allow the child to be included and successful at school.
»CEO: Cathryn Learoyd
»Established in 1991
»Based in Hammersmith, west
»Service: Teaching centre
for dyslexia, dyspraxia and
»Number of partners. 25 and
»Number of pupils: Over 100
children through our doors
each week.
»Crested report said: “Parents
were contacted and all were
immensely positive about the
effect that Emerson House
had on their children.”
Emerson House
Highlighting best practice
If we allow these children to languish
at the bottom of the class, to spiral
downwards in their self-doubt, we
don’t just fail them; we also risk losing
the benefit of all they can give to the
world – a world without the gifts
that our dyslexics can bring. Dyslexic
learners are not just creative; they
often have strengths in the visual
and visual-spatial areas of the brain.
Visualising skills can make dyslexic
pupils good at problem and puzzle
solving. This is exemplified by the
extensive list of influential dyslexics
such as Stephen Spielberg, John
Lennon, John F. Kennedy, Whoopi
Goldberg, Walt Disney, Richard
Branson, Steve Jobs and Leonardo
But there is an even longer list of
those who fall on the other side
of the special needs divide. From
the earliest studies, research into
dyslexia has shown that the majority
of dyslexic pre-schoolers are happy
and well adjusted. Their emotional
problems begin to develop when early
reading instruction does not match
their learning style. Over the years,
the frustration mounts as classmates
surpass the dyslexic student in reading
skills. The frustration of children with
dyslexia often centres on their inability
to meet expectations. Their parents
and teachers see a bright, enthusiastic
child who is not learning to read and
write. Time and again, dyslexics and
their parents hear: “He’s such a bright
child; if only he would try harder.”
Ironically, no one knows exactly how
hard the dyslexic is trying.
The pain of failing to meet other
people’s expectations is surpassed
only by dyslexics’ inability to achieve
their goals. This is particularly true
of those who develop perfectionistic
expectations in order to deal with
their anxiety. They grow up believing
that it is terrible to make a mistake.
Left unsupported, the child will feel
frustrated, excluded and anxious
and ultimately potentially angry
Providing specialist support
Emerson House addresses the needs
of the individual. We strive to be a
role model of success by working with
schools and parents. Children are
assessed and their lessons are planned
after identifying the gaps in their
knowledge. If the engine on your car
was not working, you wouldn’t take
it to the car wash. You would take
it to a mechanic to solve the missing
function. Each pupil is taught in a
way that suits them, based on both
informal and formal assessments, that
describe and diagnose any specific
learning difficulties that require
interventions. These are available at
Emerson House or the pupils may be
referred to other specialists such as
behavioral optometrists to check eye
tracking for reading, for example.
All of our specialist teachers are
dedicated professionals with
experience, empathy and commitment.
Every lesson is meticulously planned
and tailored to the needs of the
children following our unique
programmes designed to build success
and confidence. We offer three-hour
Phonological awareness
training is essential for
Primary school
is learning to
read, while
school is
reading to
sessions where the child is taken
from their school and paired up with
another child of similar abilities and,
rather like Noah’s ark, they are taught
two by two. This is a wonderful
dynamic as the child no longer feels
isolated and has a learning buddy. It
encourages collaboration, peer support
and gives the children a sense that
they are not alone in their journey.
Our lessons are multisensory and
cumulative to compensate for weak
working memory. All our children
learn to touch type, which is not only
a life-changing skill, but it also forms
new muscle memory, which improves
reading and spelling.
Improving the national
The education sector in England has
a respected and respectful attitude
to SEN but we now find ourselves –
through a combination of accident,
policy and demography – in a SEN
crisis. Each year more and more
children are diagnosed with some
form of specific learning difficulty and
with this comes more demand for
specialist help. Recent budget cuts to
schools have had a crippling effect on
provisions for SEN children and local
councils have seen a rise in demand for
EHCP assessments.
Specialist learning centres like Emerson
House are imperative to the solution of
this crisis. Not only do we provide relief
for schools overburdened with this rise
in demand, but we have also launched
a bursary scheme providing relief to
parents struggling to fund their child’s
extra support.
Our future is to work more closely
with local councils who can allocate
a budget to a child and outsource
to a specialist teaching centre. Our
charity Emerson Trust will also raise
funds to help the children who have
not qualified for government funding
due to austerity measures. Our ideal
would be to expand and have an
Emerson House in each city across
Britain. We invite you to join us on our
own learning journey of solving the
Recent budget
cuts to schools
have had a
effect on
provisions for
SEN children
and local
councils have
seen a rise in
demand for
Happy children are ready
to learn
Every lesson is tailored to
the child’s needs


This article was sponsored by Emerson House. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.