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The humane and practical responses of a teacher and principal helped a Mayor conquer a debilatating speech impediment as a child, NASUWT members were told.

Councillor Uel Mackin, Mayor of Lisburn and Castlereagh told the NASUWT Northern Ireland Conference how the caring actions of teachers at his secondary school allowed him to get over his difficulties with speech, which had made his time at primary school very difficult.

He said: "When I was at school for me it was an episode. If I was asked by my teacher to read something or to say something in class, anything more than two words was a huge problem such was the speech impediment that I had.

"I was not allowed to do the Eleven plus, all the experts said it would have been damaging to my health. I was sent to this therapy, that therapy and all the speech and language therapies of the day...it didn't work.”

But he said at secondary school his maths teacher and his principal recognised that he needed support and he was summonned with his parents to the principal’s office.
Coun Mackin said: “He brought my parents in and reassured them my speech impediment was no fault of theirs.

"He said to my parents to buy two comics - the Rover and the Hotspur – and told me to read every day for ten minutes in the morning before school and as long as you like when you come home. Every day I want you to read audibly. My parents bought the two comics every week and I started to read and it didn't do me any harm.”

Coun Mackin said his experience had left him convinced of the importance of early years intervention.
He added: “If you take nothing else from this conference do please understand your children, the reasons behind their behaviour and then that will help you focus, along with other professionals to identify a remedy. It may not be an expensive one, it may be as cheap as a couple of comics.

“I wish to thank you for your commitment to supporting the teaching profession and educating our children to ensure they can live good lives.”
 

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