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Meet the author > Pamela Ottley

Meet the author: Pamela Ottley

Originally a primary school teacher in England, Pamela Ottley tells us how her work in a school in a socially disadvantaged area, along with her son's struggles with dyslexia, ignited her passion for helping young children with reading difficulties.

My studies and qualifications...Pamela Ottley

I was originally a primary school teacher in the north of England, having qualified at Edge Hill College of Education (Liverpool University) and immediately had many questions about the kinds of reading difficulties presented by young junior age children attending school in a socially disadvantaged area. This was probably what made me determined to become an Educational Psychologist, so I obtained a B.Sc. Hons. in Psychology while my own two children were small and while doing some part time teaching. 

Then I completed an M.Sc. in Educational Psychology at University College London in 1987. In 2003 I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Ph.D. in Special Education.  

My Professional Experience...

I was a teacher for a longer period of time than most Educational Psychologists - in fact for about 11 years and I hope that it gave me a strong perspective of classroom realities and the need for practical, user friendly interventions. I temporarily became Teacher in Charge of a special unit for children with behaviour problems, and found of course that many of these children had literacy skill challenges. 

As an Educational Psychologist I worked for many years with a school for profoundly handicapped children and also managed a Portage home teaching project in Hampshire. I began to present workshops to teachers about the importance of strong phonological skills for reading success in the early 1990's, and it was very exciting when the first phonological abilities screening tests became available.

I worked on a large longitudinal reading research project in North Vancouver BC, Canada from1998 to 2003 having co-authored Launch into Reading Success: Through Phonological Awareness Training in 1996. I became a consultant psychologist to five independent Jewish schools in Vancouver for 8 years, and continued to present workshops at International Reading Association and International Dyslexia Association Conferences in the USA, as well as locally (in Vancouver) to teachers, parents and tutors. I also occasionally taught postgraduate courses at the University of BC. 

My Current Projects...

Right now I'm following on from my own research into how parents can most effectively support their own children, and assist school intervention plans by forming a close helping relationship with their own children who are experiencing difficulties with reading. It's all on my website

I believe that with current resource restraints it will be important to specifically facilitate parent support of young children with reading so as to provide the amount of help they need if they are identified as at risk for reading difficulties in the first three years of school. The whole self esteem issue for these children also needs careful attention. 

Who have I worked with...

Linda Siegel who directed the Canadian reading research project that followed 1000 children for 7 years. She has a life time of experience as a researcher into the phonological origins of reading difficulties as well as the negative personal results of experiencing reading difficulties that go undiagnosed or are diagnosed too late. I also worked with film makers at the Knowledge Network In BC, Canada as they made an award winning documentary: Dyslexia: Unravelling the Myth.

I have enjoyed working with my co-author Lorna Bennett on our intervention program Launch into Reading Success (LIRS) which was also used very successfully in the research study. LIRS is in use in many parts of the world, including the United Kingdom, the USA, Canada and Australia. 

My inspiration...

I was most certainly inspired in my work by the dyslexia experienced by my very bright and articulate son, and his father before him. 

If I wasn't an Educational Psychologist...

...I would have been an Art Teacher - in fact I spent 18 months doing this early on in my career. 

My interests away from work...

I really enjoy many hobbies now that there is more time: painting, playing guitar and harp (very much a beginner!), travel, walking, singing and especially spending time with my family including four grandchildren. 

Pamela Ottley is author of Launch Into Reading Success and runs the website


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