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Lichfield headteacher says Education Secretary’s pledge on pre-school language skills could help spot dyslexia earlier

A Lichfield headteacher has welcomed a bid to help parents improve their children’s early language development, claiming it could help to diagnose dyslexia earlier.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds has vowed to halve the number of pupils starting school without the required level of taking and reading skills by 2028.

It comes after a Government report revealed that 28% of four and five-year-olds do not meet the levels expected when they enter reception year.

Dr Daryl Brown

Dr Daryl Brown

Dr Daryl Brown, headteacher at Maple Hayes Dyslexia School said: “Young children should be exposed to written language structures before they start school, even if they cannot read the words themselves.

“By reading stories and playing audiobooks to preschool children, parents can actively encourage early language development and help improve their child’s talking, reading and writing skills.

The Education Secretary added in his speech that the development gap must also be closed between pupils from different social backgrounds – a situation Dr Brown believes is preventing children getting an early dyslexia diagnosis.

“For children with dyslexia, the development gap is often even wider,” Dr Brown said. “It can take time to work out that a child is dyslexic because their difficulties only become apparent while they are being taught.

“When children first start to learn literacy both dyslexics and non-dyslexics may well struggle to sound out words when they read and they may spell words just like they sound. It is the dyslexics who still make these errors even after being taught.

“However, if a dyslexic child has been given an early start and has been engaged in language at home from a young age, by the time they start school they may already be showing symptoms.

“A significant gap between a child’s verbal language skills and their ability to get words down on paper would flag up dyslexia and the earlier dyslexia is spotted, the earlier the correct special educational support can be put in place.”

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