MP and Lord amongst panelists at Sheffield University learning difficulties conference

9 February 2017

Lord David Blunkett and Emma Lewell-Buck, MP for South Shields, are amongst the high-profile panelists taking part in the Specific Learning Difficulties Society Conference tonight at The University of Sheffield.

The society is the first SpLD society in a higher education establishment in the UK and aims to represent SpLD students as well as campaign and promote awareness of learning difficulties.

Other panelists include Catherine Wright, who is currently a Regional Manager for Dyslexia Action, and Margaret Rooke, the author of ‘Creative, Successful, Dyslexic’ – a book that tells the stories of 23 successful personalities, exploring how they achieved both despite and because of their dyslexia. Four academics from both within and outside the university will also be on the panel.

Lord David Blunkett, who is also a Professor of Politics in Practice at The University of Sheffield, was pleased to be asked to take part in the event.

He said: “Promoting a genuine dialogue and encouraging both individuals and those working for services or voluntary initiatives to listen and then work with each other, is vital. This combines self-help and positive action by those and their families facing major challenges and professionals able to help where it is appreciated that co-delivery and user engagement is a crucial part of getting a positive outcome.

“I hope that this will be a jumping off point for further dialogue and people of good will working together to bring about major improvement, based on greater understanding and therefore commitment to change.”

Harry Rowbotham, the SpLD Society President said: “The conference is really crucial, as there currently exists a lot of anxiety about how best to support people, including children and students, who have specific learning difficulties.

“While parents are unsure of the nature of the challenges their children face of how best to get support, underfunded education systems are trying their best to offer that support with minimal resources and a lack of clarity regarding the best approaches.

“We hope the event will create such a platform to put to bed some of these debates and really challenge the status quo within the current SpLD discourse. The end result should be a clearer but thought provoking message for all SpLD students, their teachers and networks.”


The event will take place at Sheffield Students’ Union at 6.30pm tonight.

Tickets are available here.




Image credit: Policy Exchange

Written by Josie Le Vay

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