Northern Ireland

Dyslexic boy wins right to challenge education board

Belfast High Court
Image caption The High Court heard that nearly 70 children within the education board are in a similar situation to the dyslexic boy

A nine-year-old dyslexic boy has won the right to challenge his lack of direct access to a specialist literacy teacher.

The boy was granted leave to seek a judicial review at the High Court on Tuesday.

Judge Mr Justice Treacy heard that nearly 70 other children within the South Eastern Education and Library Board are in the same situation.

The boy, who is from the greater Belfast area, cannot be named.

He is one of 400 children in the education board area that requires external help with literacy problems.

The boy can only spell words of two to three letters, although, he has been assessed as being of average intelligence or cognitive ability.

Mr Justice Treacy said: "The issue is of some importance and also there is a degree of urgency.

"If the applicant is right it could have very serious consequences for the applicant and indeed for other children who may be in the same position."

Psychological harm

Rachel Hogan of the Children's Law Centre said: "The consequences for a child like this are very, very severe.

"It's not just about reading and writing and how they learn.

"They feel different from their peers and they would often suffer emotional and psychological harm as a result of this."

The legal challenge, taken in the boy's name by his mother, is seeking to judicially review the decision not to allocate direct teaching support on the basis of his needs.

It claims the board failed to consider its statutory duty and to provide early intervention support, and was motivated by a desire to save resources.

Mr Justice Treacy granted leave to apply for a judicial review on the basis that an arguable case had been established on all grounds of challenge.

The case will proceed to a full hearing next month.