History of Dyslexia Scotwest

Dyslexia Scotwest was born of an idea developed in 1979 by two concerned professional women, who were parents of probable dyslexic children. They recognised that their children were intelligent but were struggling at school with the written word. They wanted to learn more about this condition called dyslexia, and realised that by organising themselves into a group they would derive mutual support and the potential to grow a new organisation.

As the years passed the organisation did indeed grow in terms of its influence and its membership, and the expectation of the parents and teachers grew apace. People were thirsty for knowledge and by the mid-eighties, discussion groups (in the houses of members), public meetings and all-day conferences were organised and eminent authorities from the worlds of education and medicine participated. These were regularly arranged, very popular, and almost always fully subscribed.

As the organisation continued to grow, it became increasingly evident that a central reference and contact point in terms of premises would be required.

A small room was rented in the west end of Glasgow, and this continued to be managed by a highly dedicated team of volunteers. A small membership subscription financed the running costs of the premises. By this time Dyslexia Scotwest was covering the entire area of Strathclyde Regional Council that amounted to in excess of 2.2 million people, almost half the population of Scotland.

Psychological assessments were carried out under the auspices of Dyslexia Scotwest and the results would be given to the parents or guardians for onward submission to the local education authorities, in the hope that appropriate support for learning (remedial help) would be put in place for that individual.

A remedial teacher might be qualified to teach children with a broad spectrum of learning difficulties, but would not necessarily be knowledgeable in the tools and techniques that could assist in developing the coping/managing strategies for a dyslexic child.

Demand for the services of Dyslexia Scotwest continued to grow and in 1997 a new suite of rooms was obtained within the existing building of Learning and Teaching Scotland in the west end of Glasgow, and thus a larger resource room was provided for the use of members, teachers and other educationalists.

In 2001 a pioneering scheme called the Dyslexia Friendly Schools Award (DFSA) was introduced by Dyslexia Scotwest and involved a partnership with The Scottish Executive and East Renfrewshire Council. Funding for a two-year pilot scheme came from the Executive's innovative grant scheme.

The achievement of the award was based upon the school (primary or secondary) being measured against arbitrary benchmarks to see whether or not the school complied with predetermined criteria for teaching dyslexic children.

The two-year pilot scheme was continued by East Renfrewshire Council for a further year, by which time the majority of schools in East Renfrewshire had obtained the Dyslexia Friendly Schools Award.

Dyslexia Scotwest continued to grow and in the autumn of 2003, moved to new and more extensive premises on the south west side of Glasgow.