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The all party parliamentary group (APPG)

Tuesday 8 December 2020

The all party parliamentary group met last Thursday 3 Dec to discuss the experiences of people from diverse backgrounds with Dyslexia including their experiences in education, the workplace and wider society. The meeting was a great success with some amazing speakers. Here is a an overview with full details of the findings and outcome to be published shortly.

The committee heard from several speakers about their personal experiences and also wider structural issues faced by people from diverse backgrounds. First up was Jannett Morgan, Director of JM Learning & Skills and a teacher, trainer, consultant and coach who focusses on the empowerment and promotion of talented individuals from marginalised and under-represented groups. Jannett talked about the impact of structural racism across the different stages of education and the need for greater understanding of how structures impact the experiences of people from diverse backgrounds.

Fauzia Jan spoke next. Fauzia has been a Reading Recovery teacher since 2010 and since 2015 has taught at Bradford College as the lead for the Understanding Specific Learning Difficulties module for undergraduate students aspiring to be teachers. Having recently completed her Masters in Education, she is writing an online module for the new Teach apprenticeship which is a new qualification and sits in the apprenticeship framework.

Marcia Brissett-Bailey, Chair of the Cultural Perspectives Committee, British Dyslexia Association spoke about her personal experiences and what she has seen as Special Educational Needs and Disability case officer for a local authority, and as a careers adviser within post sixteen and higher education, as well as through being a trustee of a London based Dyslexia Association.

The meeting then heard from Dharmesh Valand, Final Year Medical Student, who grew up in Leicester and was diagnosed with dyslexia in the early years of primary school. He achieved excellent A-Level grades, and in 2013 he moved to London to study Biomedical Sciences at University College London and then onto Queen’s University Belfast to study Medicine. He spoke about different cultural approaches to dyslexia and the stigma that some parents feel when suggested their child may be dyslexic.

Finally, the meeting heard from Connie Siakpere who works for TFL where she is a ‘Dyslexia and Dyspraxia Champion’. Connie spoke movingly about her experiences within school and the workplace, and the lack of support by previous employers who made assumptions about her rather than recognising she may be dyslexic.

The meeting concluded with BDA CEO Nick Posford pledging his support and desire to see a more in-depth event to look at the many issues raised in the meeting and in discussions with speakers, in the hope of driving long overdue positive change and supporting people from diverse backgrounds with dyslexia.