Last week the Education and Science Select Committee visited the dyslexic student programme at Kapiti College. They invited us to visit them during the Inquiry into Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Autism Spectrum in schools which I initiated. We were hosted by the students and their teachers. The visit consisted of giving us a series of learning challenges to show us just how difficult it is to need to learn differently. We failed at all kinds of tasks and including trying to copy Greek language under time pressure and trying to read technical documents that made no sense. During some of the exercises I gave up and started distracting other students, it was just too hard and humiliating. The students said this was a common response if you are dyslexic, the other option was withdrawing and living your sense of failure in quiet despair.
It really doesn’t have to be like this for 10% of our population. Kapiti College has proved this by becoming a dyslexia friendly school with around 160 students being affirmed daily as smart and capable and dyslexic. They attract many students who are sick of the failure to teach them at other schools. The students also showed us the way Dragon voice activates software helps their learning and assessment and how a school which celebrates them is helping them succeed every day.
Now they are looking to the politicians to help all dyslexic students in all schools. Our Inquiry is working on the recommendations from last year’s submissions and families, teachers and students across the country are hoping we listened to them on these issues of learning difference. I will keep you posted!