Cathy Magee is Chief Executive of Dyslexia Scotland, the national voluntary organisation representing the interests of people with dyslexia in Scotland. She has been in post since October 2007.
Her background prior to this includes over 20 years voluntary sector experience working at local, national and international levels (including Save the Children, Voluntary Service Overseas in Nepal and Volunteer Development Scotland) managing volunteers and community development projects involved in addressing inequalities, informal adult and child education, policy development and improving health and wellbeing. She also spent 4 years on secondment to the then Scottish Executive Health Department managing the national health demonstration programme.
Her interest in dyslexia first began while working at Save the Children in Muirhouse in an after school club with children with learning difficulties.
How did you became interested in learning difficulties?
I first became interested in learning difficulties, including dyslexia, while working at Save the Children in Muirhouse in an after school club, with children with learning difficulties. At that time I had just completed an MSC in Community Education, a course which included adult literacies as well as youth and community work.
Since then, I have always worked in the field of addressing inequalities, working with children, young people and adults.
Can you give us an overview of your work?
Dyslexia Scotland’s mission is to inspire and enable people with dyslexia, regardless of age and abilities, to reach their potential in education, employment and life. Based in Stirling, we have a network of 18 volunteer-led branches across Scotland and three Adult networks. We provide a range of services including Helpline, tutor and assessment services, information and advice, events and training. We also aim to give people with dyslexia an individual and collective voice and to influence positive change for dyslexic people at national and local levels.
Our strategic plan for 2022-2025 sets out our road map to a dyslexia-friendly Scotland. The plan is available in a range of formats to make it as accessible as possible:
What are the most pressing research priorities?
The links between unidentified and unsupported dyslexia (or dyslexia that is identified later) and mental health and wellbeing, employability, success and happiness as an adult.
Unaddressed dyslexia is a costly waste of untapped potential and productivity in society whereas dyslexic success will create a fairer, healthier and more productive society. We know that at least 1 in 10 people are dyslexic, there’s a higher incidence of mental health conditions and more than half the Scottish prison population have literacy difficulties. There are however gaps in the research. We do not know how many unidentified adults there are in Scotland or the impact on those adults of not understanding the reasons for their dyslexia-related difficulties.
Dyslexic people benefit from early identification, appropriate intervention and targeted, effective support at the right time. It is vital for individuals to understand their own dyslexia difficulties and strengths in order to learn, work and function on a day to day basis.