By Jan Beechey, Guild Librarian
It was this time in Spring 1994 – exactly thirty years ago – that The Dyslexia Guild was first established. In the early nineties, knowledge and understanding of dyslexia was expanding with many state schools offering dedicated support. However, the nature of this support varied hugely from setting to setting. The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) had also been introduced in 1993 so it was increasingly important for young people to receive an accurate assessment of need.
For many pupils with dyslexia the attention was very much on what they were lacking and not what their strengths were. Writing in The Journal Ross O’Neill a dyslexic entrepreneur, remembers what it was like growing up in the nineties.
“The complete focus was on my weaknesses – and none on my strengths. So naturally I left school completely deflated, feeling very insecure with no real understanding of what my strengths were.”
It was also the year that saw the creation of the Teacher Training Authority (TTA) (now part of the DfE). The aim of the TTA was to continue to raise the standards of teaching and to improve the quality and efficiency of all routes into the teaching profession. In much the same way, The Dyslexia Guild sought to raise the quality of dyslexia assessment and teaching, as well as providing a vital support network for specialist literacy teachers. I’m pleased to say that, unlike the TTA, it is still going strong!
The Guild’s aims were, and continue to be to;
- specialise in the development of individuals involved in the field of dyslexia;
- increase networking opportunities through publications and an annual symposium;
- broaden the sphere of influence and develop appropriate links with other bodies and organisations at all levels.
The Dyslexia Guild’s expansion into APCs and opening of the library
Within just a year of its inception, some 650 members had signed up and ten years later in 2004 the library opened. As a specialist collection of assessment tests, resources, textbooks and journals for literacy difficulties, it was the first of its kind in the UK. Roughly two years later, the Guild was authorised by SASC to issue Assessment Practising Certificates – a major enhancement to its offering. We now have a dedicated APC review team allowing us to offer a speedy turnaround of APCs, often within two weeks. We’ve also introduced a five-tier membership structure and have a lively online community where members can talk to each other and ask questions of our experts.
Here are some interesting statistics from the past five years;
- 2,403 books have been borrowed from the library – enough to stretch the length of almost five premiere league football pitches!
- 97,063 e-journals have been accessed that’s roughly one every 15 minutes!
Your Feedback and a Message from Dr Anna Smith
The Guild would not exist without the support of its members. Some of you have been kind enough to share what being part of the Guild means to you.
“The Guild has been a good friend to practitioners faced with the demands of acquiring and maintaining professional status. By adopting a non-dogmatic approach to theoretical debate and by being focused upon meeting the needs of individuals, the Guild has helped several colleagues of mine navigate their path to success”
“The Guild was pivotal in my passing the APC last year through the support of the library and the guidance regarding CPD”
“I have two colleagues who recently renewed their APC with Dyslexia Action. Dyslexia Action was outstanding in providing mentoring and appropriate support so that they passed their APC.”
Thirty years have seen a great deal of change for the Guild, and I’m pleased to say the support for children with literacy difficulties has advanced considerably in that time. There are exciting things ahead this year with a great line-up at our upcoming annual conference which is open to members and non-members alike.
I’ll leave you with a message from the Head of the Dyslexia Guild, Dr Anna Smith, who wanted to convey our continued commitment to its collegiate values which you, the members, embody.
“I am very proud to be the Head of the Dyslexia Guild. Alongside the rest of the Dyslexia Guild team, I place immense value in the expertise and dedication of our members. One of our key founding principles has been to foster a collegiate relationship across our network, characterised by cooperation, respect, and mutual support. We are therefore committed to deepening our support by developing innovative and inclusive member connections – the future looks exciting!”