Farewell Sir Jim

Sir Jim Rose

It is with heavy heart that I pass on the sad news of the passing of Sir Jim Rose CBE. This comes as a great blow to the whole dyslexia world, which loses one of its most pioneering, respected and popular figureheads.

Jim’s renowned ‘Rose Report’ of 2006 led to important changes to the way reading was taught in schools, and his definition of dyslexia has been instrumental in enabling countless thousands of children and adults with dyslexia to access the help they need.

Some people leave a lasting mark in their lives, which continues for generations and generations to come, and Jim is one of those people. His dedication in the field of specific learning difficulties was second to none, and so trusted was he by the authorities, that the government of 2009 committed £10 million to the training of 4,000 specialist dyslexia teachers, on the back of one of Jim’s many independent reviews.

Above all, Jim was a lovely, helpful man. A real gentleman. He was a great friend to Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity, as he lived just down the road.

He had already worked closely with several of my predecessors before I joined the charity in 2017. At that time, Jim was chair of the Dyslexia/SpLD Trust, so I had the honour to meet him on several occasions, as I attended on behalf of Helen Arkell. He had a great sense of humour and bottomless patience when explaining the issues surrounding the subject of dyslexia to me as a new boy in the field. He sent me countless links to research papers and articles, to help me settle in, and I was so grateful for that.

The last time I saw Jim was just before Christmas, at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dyslexia and Other Specific Learning Difficulties. Sadly, this was again on Zoom, which did not give the opportunity for a cup of tea and a catch-up, but he was clearly still deeply committed to the cause of education in general, and dyslexia in particular, right up to the end.

Jim, you will be sorely missed by the whole dyslexia world and by the whole Helen Arkell community. We will do our best to carry on where you left off, and to show the same passion and commitment as you did. You left the world in a much better place for people with dyslexia than when you joined it, and you should be extremely proud of everything you achieved.

Our thoughts, best wishes, and most sincere condolences are with all your family.


PS A note from Bernadette McLean, former Principal at Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity:

Jim Rose’s passing is a sad loss, not just for his family and friends, but for all who knew him in the world of dyslexia.

His professional accomplishments were many and his influence on policy was instrumental in achieving extra support for pupils and their families.

First and foremost, Jim was an educator embodying all the aspects of good teaching, particularly patience and observation of what works and what doesn’t. These qualities were not confined to the classroom but to the whole of his professional life and these attributes ensured that he and HADC founder, Helen Arkell were kindred spirits.

Retirement did not slow him down. He was busier than ever and involved in a multitude of educational projects. After he suffered a serious car accident some years ago, we shared car journeys to many venues. On these I came to learn of the many interests Jim had well beyond the teaching of literacy; his passions included poetry, music and gardening.

Jim and his late wife, Pauline had moved to Surrey to be closer to their grandchildren who remained an important part of his life. He encouraged his family to call his grandson Ben, a phonic regular word, easy to learn. Always the teacher!

His words and wisdom will endure but he will be missed.

Bernadette McLean

PPS, from Dr Geraldine Price, Trustee of Helen Arkell

Sir Jim Rose: friend and inspiration

Sir Jim Rose was a champion for dyslexia and reading. He was a former head teacher so knew the education system from all levels, warts and all. He was passionate about providing the best and most appropriate education for ALL children. His depth of knowledge and understanding of SEN insured that his voice was heard. He was influential and people in power listened to his words of wisdom. I was privileged to work with Jim when asked to join the government-commissioned committee which looked into the identification and teaching of young people with dyslexia and literacy difficulties. The outcome of this is known as the Rose Report. The committee consisted of different professionals involved in this educational field: all with differing views and different research bases. It is to Jim’s credit and expertise that some consensus was achieved. Indeed, the definition of dyslexia is used widely in schools today as a benchmark in the identification process.

Jim was always down-to-earth and asked incisive questions when the debates within the committee were intense. He made us all sit up and reconsider our ideas. Thus, he helped professionals to look at things differently. He guided us to take practical solutions which were all adopted by the government. He achieved this with his sense of humour and kindness.

He worked tirelessly with many dyslexia charities and educational associations. He was generous with his time with Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity. He will be sorely missed.

Geraldine Price