Nearly 50 per cent of secondary school pupils with reading difficulties are not on the SEN Register. This is the claim of new research out of the University of York, which showed that fewer than 53.5 per cent of 12- and 16-year-olds with significant reading problems are known to their schools, as indicated by the SEN Register. Only 46 per cent of all secondary students with decoding difficulties and 44 per cent of secondary students with reading comprehension difficulties are on the Register.
The study, led by Professor Maggie Snowling, Professor Charles Hulme and Dr Sue Stothard at the Centre for Reading and Language at the University of York, also showed that some students in every secondary school year group were identified with a reading age of just six or seven years.
Launching the research findings, Dr Stothard said that the under-reporting of children’s reading problems could have serious implications for their development. “If half of children with reading difficulties are not on the SEN Register by Year 7, this suggests to me that it’s unlikely that their reading problems will be attended to during their secondary schooling”, she said.
Dr Stothard went on to call for changes to the education system “to significantly reduce the number of children leaving school with inadequate reading skills”, adding that this should be considered as part of the current review of the primary National Curriculum.”
Researchers also noted “a strong relationship between reading difficulties and social deprivation”, with a third of pupils with the highest level of social deprivation (postcode ranks 1 or 2) exhibiting a reading difficulty, compared with only five per cent of pupils with the lowest level of social deprivation (postcode ranks 9 and 10).
Professor Snowling argued that the study had shown that “it is critical to identify children at risk of reading difficulties early, certainly well before secondary school, and for appropriate interventions to be put in place.”