Panel, left to right: Karen Wespieser (Driver Youth Trust), Kevin Courtney (NEU), Cath Murray (SchoolsWeek), Damian Hinds (Secretary of State for Education), Geoff Barton (ASCL)

Karen Wespieser joined a panel of distinguished educationalists at the Conservative Party Conference to debate the question ‘is it still rewarding to be a teacher in England?’. Using new data, compiled by DYT, Karen argued that cuts to Local Authority central service budgets are making the job of the classroom teacher increasingly difficult as they do not have access to the range of specialist support they need to help young people with literacy difficulties.

Karen reminded delegates at the conference that following the 2009 Rose Report, then-education secretary Ed Balls pledged £10,000 to see “at least one specialist teacher for each local group of schools” and explained that a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by Driver Youth Trust has revealed that in the ensuing nine years, the government has allocated just over half of the allocated funding and only 3,000 dyslexia-specific teachers have been trained. Karen also explained that the FoI revealed that the Department for Education do not collate the information of where the dyslexia specialists now resided or what work they carried out.

Karen used the opportunity to talk about DYT’s new research project which is investigating the prevalence of specialist teachers in schools in England. She revealed emerging findings that indicate a third of local authorities in England do not have enough specialist dyslexia teachers.

Karen concluded that whilst being a teacher in England is undoubtedly rewarding, it is improved when there is specialist support for young people who struggle with literacy.