Princess Beatrice has urged students with dyslexia to view the condition as an “opportunity” and to not let it hold them back.
The Queen’s granddaughter, who herself was diagnosed with dyslexia at age seven, was speaking to dyslexic students during visits to two London schools.
She told them: “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.”
The princess visited both the Globe Academy in Elephant and Castle and Bolingbroke Academy in Clapham to witness the work of the Drive for Literacy programme.
The scheme aims to improve pupils’ reading and writing skills and involves screening students and offering small group and specialist tuition for those who need extra support. Specialist dyslexia training is also provided to all teachers.
Princess Beatrice described to the students how she had struggled with her dyslexia at first.
She explained: “I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was seven and it was a bit of a struggle to begin with. It was a challenge as I began my school career – spelling and reading was something I couldn’t really get my head around. I created what I describe as a ‘toolkit’ for myself of skills you learn and pick up over the years, which I still have to use today. A lot of my best friends were dyslexic so we used to study together, working at our own pace.”
She added: “The most important thing was having great teachers who took the time to make sure we were all really well supported. I did a lot of extra classes, a lot of practice, and a lot of asking questions.”
Her royal highness praised the work of the Drive for Literacy scheme, adding: “One of the most important things is to figure out what the best methods are to support young people. I was really interested to see the way in which they do the screening process for dyslexia.”
Bolingbroke Academy has been awarded a Dyslexia Friendly School Quality Mark by the British Dyslexia Association and all staff spend 30 minutes every day in organised reading groups after lunchtime.
Tristran Seguim, a 12-year-old pupil at the school, said: “It was really exciting to meet Princess Beatrice, I was quite nervous. I really enjoyed it and she was very nice.
“The teachers at my school help me a lot to understand certain things and my English teacher will help me get my grades up as I was struggling before, now I feel much more confident in English.”
The principal, Claire Edis, added: “I know people with dyslexia who went through school thinking that they weren’t as good as other pupils. That mindset held them back. I wanted to make sure no child at Bolingbroke ever felt inadequate or unable to take on challenges.”
Drive for Literacy is a partnership between ARK schools and the Driver Youth Trust. Visit http://driveryouthtrust.com/ CAPTION: Moral support: Princess Beatrice during her visit to Bolingbroke Academy