Christopher Chope MP (Con.) believes that “the Government are suppressing information about the Dore programme, which is of proven benefit to a large number of sufferers”

On May 16 2008 (months after Gimpy reported his concerns about Dore’s finances, and one day before it was reported that Dore Australia were in Administration) Christopher Chope MP (Con.) spoke at length about Dore in the House of Commons*. Christopher Chope’s ranting about Dore – and the responses of his colleagues – is truly a thing of beauty, and I highly recommend reading the debate in full. I’ll give some selected highlights below, though.

Chope claimed that:

At present the Government are suppressing information about the Dore programme, which is of proven benefit to a large number of sufferers.

I’m not sure where he gets the idea that Dore is proven from – there is not good quality research to show that Dore does what it claimed to do – but I do like the idea that that Government was suppressing information about Dore. Given that Dore was widely discussed in the mainstream media – which were generally happy to plug Dore, while largely failing to report the problems with Dore’s research – this would be a rather ineffective suppression. Christopher Chope is not discouraged by this, though, and goes on to argue that:

The problem is not a lack of information, but the fact that parents are being starved of the information that is available, and are therefore not in a position to put pressure on education authorities to fund schemes such as Dore.

This is, frankly, a little odd. Given the widespread, overwhelmingly positive coverage of Dore in the national mainstream media, I really struggle to see how anyone could conclude that the public were being starved of information on Dore. Admittedly, there was a lack of good information – for example, a lack of articles which made clear the limitations of the evidence regarding Dore – but I don’t think that this is what Chope had in mind.

Of course, Chope does discuss his ‘evidence’ that Dore works. For Chope:

The Dore programme is a well-established programme for assisting people with dyslexia, dyspraxia and other similar conditions. It has been made famous by the experience of that great Welsh rugby player—some call him a Welsh rugby legend—Scott Quinnell.

Of course, Dore was relatively well-established (though, given the speed at which it closed, perhaps not so well-established as Chope thought). This does not prove it works: all kinds of implausible treatment modalities (homoeopathy, for example) are very well-established.

Rugby is, of course, important. But proof-by-endorsement-of-sporting-hero is an unusual way to test treatments for our children.

I do get the sense the Chope tried the patience of some of his parliamentary colleagues, too. At one point the Deputy Speaker informs Chope that

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman’s remark about the particular programme that he is discussing; he has certainly spoken about it at some length

There is certainly plenty of length in that debate. Though it would have been better if Christopher Chope had critically considered the evidence regarding Dore – not to mention its financial situation – before speaking at such length on the subject.

* hat-tip to Ben Goldacre’s miniblog, where I first saw the link

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Christopher Chope MP (Con.) believes that “the Government are suppressing information about the Dore programme, which is of proven benefit to a large number of sufferers”

  1. Wulfstan

    Lots of mixed metaphors come to mind. The parents were not starving for information – mainstream media were pushing junk information at them to consume but were unable (for reasons relating to their paper’s culture, advertisers, fear of offending PR types?) to offer them quality, fact-based reporting.

    The Priory Church of England primary school in Christchurch has been using the Dore programme to which I referred earlier… [link]

    This was surprising. It will be interesting to see what Sir Jim Rose makes of Dore given the slight evidence that there is and the poor quality.

    as part of his investigation of dyslexia, Jim Rose will examine all the evidence to which he has referred, relating to the various ways of teaching children with dyslexia? That will include the Dore programme, and Jim Rose will make recommendations based on his review.

    The remainder of the comments in that debate – they’re extraordinary. Let’s spend money on a programme that we know works without boring old scientific evaluation. Oh – Jim Rose can’t evaluate it because it is beyond the capabilities of teachers, only specially trained experts can use it. Odd how that is going to work out now that a bit of software and a parent with no specialist training is now deemed capable.

  2. Yes, it is fascinating how quickly the position of some appears to be moving – from an insistence on the need for assessment by specialised staff with ‘NASA’ technology to claims re the adequacy of a computer system. It would be great if we could get more details of how the My Dore system works…

    It would also be interesting to know what is Chope’s current position on the Dore programme (and the My Dore software). I wonder if any of his constituents, or any journalists, would like to ask him?

  3. Angela Fawcett and Roderick I. Nicolson’s Dyslexia, Learning, and the Brain will be published in the US by MIT Press next month.

    http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=11497

    I’m reserving judgment till I’ve read the book.

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