Left-handed children ‘still penalised’
TEACHERS used to go to extraordinary lengths to force left-handed children to use their right, from tying their preferred arm down to assigning fellow pupils to sit with them and make sure they did not do what came naturally.
While such extreme measures are no longer seen in schools, children are still being ‘penalised’ for being left-handed because many teachers are unable to spot the signs that they are struggling with their writing and do not know how to help them effectively, according to campaigners.
They are demanding that the national curriculum include a legal duty for lefthanded pupils to receive specific teaching to meet their needs.
Mark Stewart, who runs the Worcesterbased group Left ’n’ Write with his wife Heather, said the Department for Education does not record how many children are left-handed in schools because it is not considered a disability. With around 10 per cent of the population said to be left-handed, Mr Stewart, who specialises in helping lefthanded children, has also written to the Government asking it to consider the impact on educational attainment.
He claimed a high percentage of the prison population is left-handed, and suggested problems with handwriting during early education could result in ‘low marks, low self-esteem [and] a downward spiral’.
Former Tory minister Sir Peter Luff, who is left-handed and was MP for Mid Worcestershire until 2015, said: ‘It’s bizarre that kids in our schools are penalised because they happen to be left-handed.’
He added it was easy to improve conditions for them by helping them to hold their pens more effectively, for example.
In a letter responding to concerns about the issue, education minister Nick Gibb said teachers need to ensure all pupils – including left-handers – receive ‘whatever specific support they require’.
He added: ‘The exact way in which children are taught to write, however, is a matter for schools to decide.’
A Department for Education spokesman said yesterday: ‘We trust teachers to provide support to children who are struggling for any reason.’
The Ministry of Justice does not record how many prisoners are left-handed.