• Can’t spell, can’t teach? An exploration of stakeholder attitudes towards those with dyslexia, training to be primary classroom teachers

      Charles, Sarah; University of Derby (2017-05-12)
      Aim: This paper seeks to investigate whether the dominance of a standards drive approach to ITE, and the teaching profession, has perpetuated attitudinal barriers to the recruitment and employment of students with dyslexia. Stakeholder understanding of the term dyslexia; perceived strengths/challenges those with dyslexia bring to the profession; what constitutes as reasonable adjustments and employability prospects, based on disclosure, are explored. Content: The presentation will disseminate and discuss key findings related to ITE stakeholder attitudes towards those with dyslexia, training to be primary teachers on ITE programmes. Findings suggest that there remains uncertainty and confusion about dyslexia, its associated characteristics/causes. Many stakeholders perceive dyslexia negatively, couched in deficits rather than difference. This research found strengths such as empathy, inclusive practice and ease of identification of children with dyslexia are attributed to those training to teach with dyslexia. Stakeholder concerns, of those entering the profession, with dyslexia, are identified as being– ability to cope with the demands of the profession; the inability to teach particular age groups/subjects; the level of support needed to ensure success and retention following qualification. This latter concern constitutes a key finding of this research, as the level of support afforded by universities is perceived as being unrealistic in the workplace. The notion of what constitutes ‘reasonable adjustments’ is questioned by many ITE stakeholders. A number of ‘reasonable adjustments’ are perceived by stakeholders as being unreasonable within the teaching profession due to the professional roles, responsibilities and requirements of being a teaching professional. Furthermore, uncertainty exists as to how schools can actually support those with dyslexia, in light of professional standards. A significant majority of stakeholders demonstrated a negative attitude towards the notion of people with dyslexia entering the teaching profession, believing that parents should be concerned if their child is being taught by someone with dyslexia. Both of these findings could have serious implications on the future disclosure of those with dyslexia. This research has found that a fear of stigmatisation and potential discrimination, which deter those with dyslexia from disclosing on course and job applications are justified and real. This research concludes that employability chances are lessened upon disclosure of dyslexia. This presentation will seek to engage the audience to consider their own understanding of dyslexia; their institutional policies regarding disclosure, support and training in light of equality legislation and, ultimately, their own attitudes towards the suitability of those with dyslexia studying on, ITE programmes. Thinking deeply about teacher education: This is a thought provoking presentation which encourages the audience to think carefully about those with dyslexia on ITE programmes, and the potential professional, legal, ethical and moral tensions due to concerns that; “The drive for high literacy standards will be compromised if teachers with ‘weaker’ literacy standards are employed” (Riddick, 2003, p.390). The country/ies to which the presentation relates: This presentation has scope and relevance to all countries where there is incidence of dyslexia and where students are required to meet professional standards to enter the teaching profession.