A Passion for Change


Determined to help her son and others who struggle with learning, Katie Knight embarked on SPELD NZ’s Level 5 Certificate training with the help of a scholarship .  She describes the experience as life changing.

My son Rio was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of eight. He had huge anxiety issues by then and even though I’m a primary school teacher with 15 years’ experience, I had limited knowledge of dyslexia.  I wanted to learn more in order to be the best possible advocate for Rio.

I was also motivated to train when I learned about the huge shortage of SPELD NZ Teachers in Gisborne. It was heart breaking to know there were students waiting on a list to receive support. The third reason was to ensure that as a classroom teacher I could develop my knowledge around specific learning disabilities, share it with my colleagues and prevent other children from slipping through the system.

I cannot even explain how much I appreciated the training scholarship. The way the course changed my perspective and developed my knowledge is life changing. It was an amazing year full of learning, support and passion. I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity. I came away hungry for more and passionate about making a change. I’m buzzing with all the new knowledge and I’m so excited to share it.

It was an amazing year full of learning, support and passion.

I’ve taken a staff meeting to share Rio’s story and what I have learned from the course. I feel confident to now advocate for these children and I’ve started teaching my first one-on-one students from that long waiting list in Gisborne! I’m so excited!

As a primary school teacher, I’ve had children with dyslexia in my classrooms. However, having a child myself with dyslexia was a huge eye-opener. Rio went undiagnosed and was pressured to achieve in a system that focused mainly on numeracy and literacy for too long. It was scary that between myself and his teachers, we didn’t recognise the signs. I felt angry that I hadn’t known more. Why aren’t New Zealand teachers given more information, training and support in this area?

A lack of knowledge in schools still exists, the huge waiting list is still there and, heartbreakingly, children like Rio are still ‘breaking’. For some it will take even longer to be identified, and for others it will never happen! We know the sad research around what could likely happen to these children.

I will continue to do what I can, but I am only one person. If you are a teacher and are interested in doing your SPELD NZ training, I cannot recommend it enough.

By SPELD NZ Probationary Teacher Katie Knight

Find out more about SPELD NZ teacher training here.