Biannual Learning Difficulties Conference

I have just attended the biannual Learning Difficulties Conference in Brisbane with my friend, colleague and mentor, Cathy Love. Lots of insightful speakers and presentations from a range of educators and researchers.

Doctor Anne Castles of Macquarie University was our first keynote speaker and provided a wonderful paper entitled ‘Identifying, understanding and treating reading difficulties.’ Anne spoke passionately about the need to identify these learners as early as possible and provide intensive systematic instruction through a ‘response to intervention’ model. Her advice and examples were real and clear and provided the audience with a commonsense approach to learning difficulties in reading, without being hung up on labels, diagnoses and terminology. Her pictorial illustrating the reading process and where problems can occur was particularly relevant in these times of debate over dyslexia.

The legendary Jackie French, author and senior Australian of the year for 2015, entertained us in her inimitable way with stories of her life, her own struggles with a spelling difficulty and her views on how we might go about changing the horrifying statistics of how many of our children don’t reach international benchmarks for reading. She spoke passionately about more training for all teachers in identifying and supporting children with learning difficulties, especially pre-service teachers.

A great conference to attend for all people involved and interested in education.