Karen Starkiss

I had been a teacher in the UK for over 25 years until 2006 when my family and I left England to live in Australia.

During my teaching career I have taught in a number of schools from large inner city to small village schools, from social priority to affluent areas. I have taught primary and secondary students and teenage 'school refusers.'  I worked for one county as a School Improvement Consultant going into failing schools and working with the staff to improvee standards in teaching and learning. My last position in the UK was as a headteacher of a primary school, which was categorised as “Causing Concern,” with a deficit budget. I worked with the teachers, parents and students to double the number on roll within 18 months and take it to the top of the Devon League Tables for 2 consecutive years in 2005 and 2006 and 10th in the Country League Tables for standards. I was interviewed by ITV about my school’s success and this was televised in November 2005.

I have written a number of articles that have been published in local newspapers as well as producing booklets and manuals for parents and teachers. I have also written and delivered workshops and lectures to teaching professionals, classroom assistants, students and parents covering a range of subjects.

I love teaching; working with children, staff, parents and the wider community. Although, when I have moved areas in the past, I always say that I’ll look to developing a new career I miss teaching too much and always return to it. As a teacher I know how committed teachers are and the responsibilities and workload that they have to cope with so I hope that the resources I offer will help in some way. I also know the fears, concerns and expectations that parents have. Sadly, the questions that parents were asking me in 2000 were often similar to the ones they asked in 1980, which leads me to believe that we aren't providing the information that they need in the form that will help them most. One of the main aims of this website is to answer your questions and support you and your children.

In England dyslexia and other Specific Learning Difficulties were understood and there were multiple courses open to all school staff. In addition, teachers and other professionals could undertake intensive training to be able to assess children and adults for dyslexia. I gained these qualifications and learned so much from the course. With teachers receiving this training there was far less need for parents to have to pay sometimes exorbitant fees for private assessments.


Since I have been in Australia I have been shocked and alarmed at the lack of understanding and recognition about dyslexia and other SpLDs. And acceptance and provision changes from one state to another as do accommodations for these people when they take any formal tests and exams. This is why I had to become involved with assessments and training to try to help. I continue to assess many children and adults for dyslexia and provide a range of workshops for teachers and other professionals. I live and work mainly in Victoria and Professionals responsible for disabilities in education departments from other States have attended my workshops. As a result I have much of 2013 and 2014 working for the ACT and Northern territory training lead teachers and school advisors, providing them with a 'Toolbox' to go into their schools and help the staff to offer an inclusive and accessible environment for all students with Learning Difficulties. This has been most fulfilling for me

In addition to my professional expertise and involvement I also have very personal experience of the problems that parents face, the frustrations and successes. I have 3 children and 4 grandchildren (two of them babies). One of my children and two of my grandchildren were/are considered gifted in reading, both were more than 6 years above their actual age by the time they were 7 years old. Two of my children are dyslexic and often really struggled with schoolwork. Therefore, as a parent, I know what it’s like to worry that my children may not be challenged or supported enough at school and also whether I am doing the best I can to help them.

E-mail: karen@dyslexiasupportservices.com.au