“Feeling better about myselfâ€: An examination of the strengths and weaknesses of a tool developed to explore the impact of dyslexia support on the self-esteem and motivation to learn of dyslexic young offenders

Jenny Phillimore


Evidence suggests that the prevalence of dyslexia is higher in the offending population. Kirk and Reid (2001) hypothesize there may be a link between crime, dyslexia and self-esteem. It has been suggested that individuals who are involved with the criminal justice system and have had a negative
schooling experience linked to their dyslexia may benefit from specialist dyslexia support to the extent that it can help reduce re-offending rates (Klein 1998; Jameson. & Ward 2001). However UK government agencies place their main emphasis on working on literacy taking a Basic Skills approach to tuition despite evidence that there is equal need for self-esteem and life-skills support. Without quantifiable evidence of the impact that dyslexia support can have on offenders’ self-esteem, funding agencies are reluctant to support projects. This paper explores the strengths and weaknesses of a tool designed to quantify the impacts of one to one dyslexia support on self-esteem and a range of behaviours. It considers lessons learned from the use of the
questionnaire with a group of young people at risk of offending who had been excluded from school. The paper concludes that providing the questionnaire is used in conjunction with qualitative interviewing and is tailor made with the objectives of each project in mind, it is completed
consistently, and considers a range of issues exploring both perceptions and actual behaviour, the data collected can provide useful quantification of qualitative information that can help to convince funders of the importance of the softer outcomes of dyslexia tuition.

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