We outline some of the main findings and recommendations of Sir Jim Rose’s much heralded report on dyslexia and literacy difficulties
The Rose Report, Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties was published in June this year. The wide ranging report makes a number of specific recommendations for Government and local authority (LA) action to help teachers identify and meet the educational needs of children with difficulties with literacy, including dyslexia. The report also looked at early learning goals relating to literacy.
Sir Jim Rose, a former head of the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED), was commissioned in January 2008 by the Secretary of State at the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), Ed Balls, to undertake this review alongside his review of the primary curriculum. In addition, Sir Jim was asked to look at how best to take forward the commitment in the Children’s Plan to establish a pilot scheme in which children with dyslexia will receive Reading Recovery support or one-to-one tuition from specialist dyslexia teachers.
The report calls for all schools to have access to three levels of expertise:
- all teachers should have access to up to date information about problems with literacy
- training courses should be available to enable schools to develop expertise in helping children with literacy difficulties
- specialised teachers should be available for those pupils that need them.
The very existence of dyslexia has been called into question during recent years, not least by the comments of Labour MP Graham Stringer, who called the condition a “cruel fiction”. He added that “To label children as dyslexic because they’re confused by poor teaching methods is wicked.” Mr Stringer’s comments were the subject of much criticism and Sir Jim Rose clearly felt the need, in his report, to state that “it is now widely accepted that dyslexia exists”. He went on to argue that “the long running debate about its existence should give way to building professional expertise in identifying dyslexia and developing effective ways to help learners overcome its effects.”
The report says that dyslexia is “identifiable as a developmental difficulty of language learning and cognition.” Key characteristics of the condition are identified as “difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed.”
Sir Jim highlights evidence from studies of twins which suggests that an individual’s chances of being dyslexic are increased if there is dyslexia elsewhere in the family. While estimates vary according to definitions, it is believed that between four per cent and eight per cent of all children are affected by dyslexia.
Many children and adults with dyslexia often feel “deeply humiliated” when asked to read and dyslexics often report being bullied because of their difficulties with reading. Dyslexics usually do not read unless they have to and are far less likely to read for pleasure. While some children with dyslexia are successful academically, many become “disaffected and disengage from education”.
While recognising the importance of early identification in meeting the needs of children with the condition, the report argues that blanket screening all school children for dyslexia is not recommended, particularly as reliable tests for this have not yet been identified.
The report praised the implementation of the “Simple View of Reading”, advocated by the 2006 Review of Early Reading, and argued for the increased development of this approach.
Recommendations of the Rose Report
The report made a total of nineteen recommendations. Some of the main ones are:
- all schools and LAs should have access to specialist help with teaching dyslexic pupils and, to this end, a number of teachers should receive specific training to become dyslexia specialists
- schools and LAs should review how they can share specialist dyslexia teaching resources
- short courses in teaching literacy intervention programmes should be commissioned by the DCSF. Courses should “equip participants with the expertise to select, implement, monitor and evaluate literacy interventions”
- Inclusion Development Programme (IDP) materials should be updated by the National Strategies to take account of Sir Jim’s review
- teacher training programmes and continuing professional development (CPD) programmes should “build on initiatives for strengthening coverage of special educational needs and disability (including dyslexia)”
- LAs should set clear guidelines for how schools can access specialist resources to meet the needs of pupils with dyslexia
- LAs and The National Strategies should work with schools to ensure effective monitoring of teaching word recognition and language comprehension skills in keeping with the “simple view of reading”
- parents and schools should receive clear advice on the effectiveness and purpose of interventions. Guidance should be commissioned by the DCSF, and its implementation should be independently monitored
- an interactive website should be established providing copies of relevant reports and guidance, regular updates on the successful use of interventions and links to IDP and short course materials
- schools should publish their policies and procedures on teaching children with literacy difficulties and should keep parents informed of their plans and progress in this area
- the DCSF should actively promote its booklet providing information for parents on SEN, including dyslexia
- the DCSF should continue to provide funding for a helpline for parents on reading difficulties
- schools should be audited by heads and governors to ensure compliance with The Special Educational Needs Code of Practice, including sections in the Code relating to Dyslexia
- all primary and secondary schools should “evaluate their intervention programmes, and make sure that where the expertise required for these programmes needs to be strengthened, steps are taken to do so”. LAs and The National Strategies should assist schools in this process
- the Government should consider using Ofsted to examine to what extent and how effectively schools are using interventions to improve outcomes for children with literacy difficulties.
Sir Jim Rose’s report, Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties, is available to download from the DCSF website:
Further information on dyslexia is available from: