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Education / MSYP diagnosed with dyslexia in uni says he had ‘virtually zero support’ in school

Children’s services director Helen Budge said she would pass on Leighton Anderson’s feedback to staff

ONE of Shetland’s Scottish Youth Parliament members who was only diagnosed with dyslexia in his second year of university says he experienced a lack of support while in school.

Leighton Anderson said the level of help he received at school was “not fair”.

He spoke about his experience during a meeting of Shetland Islands Council’s education and families committee this week.

University student Anderson brought up the subject after asking what more can be done to assist people through the whole S4 to S6 period.

Leighton Anderson.

Committee chairman George Smith apologised to Anderson, while children’s services director Helen Budge vowed to pass on the feedback.

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty which affects reading and writing skills.

Ten percent of the population are believed to be dyslexic, but charities say it is still poorly understood by many.

Anderson asked if there can be greater learning support and access to educational psychologists locally.

“Personally, I’ve gone through the educational system in Shetland, and it’s taken me to second year of uni to get referred to an educational psychologist to get diagnosed with dyslexia,” he said.

“I’ve experienced through the school system not having support until maybe a week before prelims, which to be honest is not fair.”

Anderson said he felt “frustrated” by the experience and described it as having “slipped through the cracks”.

He said he was keen to raise awareness of the situation and believed it was a “whole Shetland problem that isn’t getting recognised”.

“I know I’m not the first,” Anderson said. “Hopefully we can get the systems in place so it will be one of the last.

“It is very difficult going through highers and advanced highers with virtually zero support.”

Budge praised Anderson for his openness and for his “powerful” statement.

“Can I just first of all say well done you”, she said. “Really a powerful voice for those young folk that for one reason for another have found themselves in your position.”

Budge said she would pass the feedback to education officials as well as Anderson’s former school.

Meanwhile Smith said: “I’m just wanting to say sorry, in the sense that that’s the experience you’ve had.

“You’ve made your position very, very powerfully.”