A specialist teacher quit her job to tackle the Dyslexia ‘crisis’ within schools in the North East.
As a teacher Philippa Vince, from Heaton, saw mainstream school pupils sometimes waiting up to TWO YEARS to be diagnosed with the learning disability, putting huge strain on the child, family and school.
So, after almost 20 years working in education, she made the huge decision to quit her job and set up Toucan Education, where she now diagnoses children across the North East within a month.
Philippa’s work then involves supporting the children, as well as their schools and families, in managing the learning disability at school and at home.
Philippa, a member of the British Dyslexia Association, said: “I found in my time working with vulnerable children that there was a need for understanding of dyslexia so I became very specialised and trained in that area.
“There are limited resources and local authorities are struggling. There are small, highly-skilled teams in each authority but cut-backs have meant resources are depleted and there are not enough of them. Dyslexia often gets put to the bottom of the pile as other disabilities take priority.
“The state of SEN in some schools is at crisis point. There are some fantastic people working to support dyslexic children but there are just
not enough of them – the funding isn’t there. Many children are not getting the support they need.
“As well as diagnosing Dyslexia, Toucan Education is here to unite schools and families and provide the support, information and care so that everyone is working together to get these children what they need and deserve as soon as they need it.”
According to the British Dyslexia Association, 1 in 10 people suffer with Dyslexia.
And Dyslexia North East, the only charity in the region to support Dyslexia, echoed Philippa’s words about the lack of support locally for children with the learning disability.
Liz Ferguson, from Dyslexia North East, said: “There are so many children who are not getting the help they need.
“Lack of funds to help dyslexics is a real issue now, and there is an urgent need to provide adequate teacher training about dyslexia related conditions.
“Sometimes their school simply doesn’t have enough staff to cope with their Dyslexia. Schools need more resources to provide the support and help for dyslexics.”
Philippa, who also works with dyslexic adults and manages difficult behaviour in children, has worked with schools across the region and delivered training across Europe since setting up her business in 2016.
Laura Ritson, head teacher at Warkworth Primary School, said: “We’ve been working with Philippa over the last year. We had tried quality first teaching, a range of interventions and engaged with SEND services; however, we just felt that we needed to do more to support our children.
“This is where Philippa came in, she carried out dyslexia assessments on a number of pupils, supported the families and led training for all staff to ensure we had a whole school approach.
“This specialist support and training is now enabling our pupils to make rapid progress and more importantly be confident lifelong learners.”
Mum-of-two Laura Prince, from Whitley Bay, has brought in Philippa to her home to work with her daughters Ava 8, and Freya 6.
She said: “Not only has Philippa succeeded in helping Ava progress significantly, but more importantly, to me as a mum, she has helped developed her self-esteem and self-belief.
“As a family we feel very lucky to have Philippa in our lives. Having a child that is struggling academically and losing their confidence is quite stressful and has had a massive impact on our family over the years.”
In a bid to enable teachers to support dyslexic children more effectively, Philippa has organised a ‘Be That Teacher’ conference, at Jesmond Dene House on 3rd December 2018.
Internationally-renowned Dyslexia-specialist Neil Mackay, a published author and creator of the Dyslexia Friendly Schools concept, will be guest speaker.
Philippa added: “Ultimately I want to empower teachers to be confident in teaching Dyslexic children and understand that they can make everyday changes to make a massive difference to children in their care.”