Last week, Princess Beatrice visited the Globe Academy in Southwark and the Bolingbroke Academy near Clapham Junction, to see how dyslexic students are supported by the Drive for Literacy Programme. The programme is an initiative to develop reading and writing skills in children.
This cause is very dear to the Princess, as she too was diagnosed with dyslexia when she was seven years old. At the schools, she spoke to teachers and pupils about the importance of supporting children with dyslexia and their work towards it. She also interacted with some pupils who have been diagnosed with dyslexia, saying “Dyslexia is not a pigeonhole to say you can’t do anything. It is an opportunity and a possibility to learn differently. You have magical brains, they just process differently. Don’t feel like you should be held back by it.”
Princess Beatrice revealed that while she was in school, a lot of her best friends were dyslexic as well, and they would study together, at their own pace. She spoke about developing a ‘toolkit’ of skills which she had learned, and which she has continued to use over the years. She also spoke about how reading the Harry Potter books helped her overcome her difficulties. “The second story came out, I couldn’t put it down. Now I read so much quicker, so much better and I studied history at university which involved a lot of reading.”
During her visit, The Queen’s granddaughter was shown how students are screened for dyslexia, and assigned smaller groups and special tuition for extra support. The teachers of the schools are all given specialist dyslexia training, and they use a range of evidence-based techniques to teach every subject.
Before leaving, The Princess said that “One of the most important things is to figure out what the best methods are to support young people. I came across the Drive for Literacy and the partnership with ARK Schools, and it is inspiring to see how every child in the classroom can be supported. I was really interested to see the way in which they do the screening process for dyslexia.”
Princess Beatrice is not the only royal with dyslexia. King Carl Gustaf XVI of Sweden and his daughter Crown Princess Victoria have been diagnosed with the condition in the past. The Duchess of Cambridge’s brother, James Middleton, has also admitted to having dyslexia.