*updated with info on administrators, Friday 31st May*
DORE UK have shut down, officially confirmed.
‘It is with great regret that we have to announce that Dore has been put into the hands of advisors. As a result Dore is closing all of the UK centres which deliver the Dore Programme with immediate effect.
We are determined to find a way for every client who is on the program to have their treatment completed. We are presently exploring alternative arrangements to ensure every client is cared for.
We will be updating this page of our website every few days with news regarding alternative arrangements for continued programme delivery so please check frequently.
We still want to help people to identify any learning difficulties they may be struggling with, so we are continuing to make our online symptoms test available. We will provide you with a personal report that outlines any learning difficulty and the likely severity.’
Staff were told at lunchtime on Friday 23rd. Clients have been discussing what to do next on DORE talk. I’ve set up an alternative forum (now completely run by DORE parents, I’ve turned over all admin powers) in case DOREtalk closes without notice. Hopefully people will be able to share information on what is going on and any legal steps which should be taken.
What to do now?
If you are a staff member with unpaid wages or a client with uncompleted treatment, probably the most important thing you can do to get your money back is register as a creditor with the administrators. Woodgate in Australia, this is a letter from the UK adminstrators. Unfortunately both the UK and Australian administrators have said that clients are very unlikely to get refunds from Dore itself.
Trading Standards is a good place to start for an overview of the relevant law. If you’ve paid by credit card that’s the first place to try claiming a refund, debit cards are less likely but worth a try. If you have a finance deal then you may also receive some money back (thanks Jon for info) The Insolvency Service has all sorts of useful albeit detailed information, including what to do if you are owed money by a company in liquidation. Citizen’s Advice Bureau may be able to help.
Staff should read this guide to getting some wages back, up to £330/week, more detailed information for employees here (pdf). Forms and how to apply are at Redundancy Payments Service. You should apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance immediately, as it can’t be backdated & will affect how much you can get from the Redundancy Payments Service.
Podblack makes useful suggestions for Australia. I’m no expert here, if you know more please pass it on. Since I originally wrote this entry the US has also shut, again I don’t know a lot about the law there but if you do please tell me and I’ll add it.
I’ve posted some of this previously – here I’m trying to put all the available information in one place in roughly chronological order, in the hope of building up a picture of what was going on.
In January 2008, Gimpy found that the DORE UK accounts showed that they had an accumulated loss of ~£6.8 million to 2006 (~US$13 million ~AUS$14 million). Gimpy and I raised this on DORE talk, but were told that ‘discussion was not appropriate’. Also in January 2008, Convex Capital, a consultancy firm, were brought in. The reasons for this may be inferred from Wynford Dore’s statement ‘I have no hesitation in recommending Convex Capital to any company that wants to make more money, quicker’. Gimpy has since looked at the 2007 accounts, which show an accumulated loss of £8.3 million. Treatments were being funded by the recruitment of new clients. It is difficult to see how existing clients could now be provided with services or refunds, particularly since it is clear that this will not now happen in Australia despite early suggestions that this might be possible, and UK staff having been ‘told they no longer have a job‘.
DORE in the UK and in Australia kept trading as normal, and recruiting clients who were required to pay ~£2000 up-front, right up until they closed (Aus 15th May, UK 23rd May). Cheques in Australia were still being cashed the day parents were told, after the company had gone into administration. In an exceptional piece of bad judgement, Kenny Logan, a rugby player paid by DORE, discussed his dyslexia on BBC Radio Four ‘consumer programme’ ‘You And Yours‘ on 19th May. Although Logan did not mention DORE by name, the presenters went on to discuss the programme by name in wholly favourable terms, even though clients in Australia had already lost everything they paid, and DORE UK would suffer a similar predictable fate just four days later.
‘Couldn’t you see these problems coming?
Answer: We were very confident until just these last few days that funding would be
available to maintain the whole operation. We have spent considerable time in talks with
various investors who have expressed interest in supporting the venture. Unfortunately a
firm agreement has not materialised in time to save the situation.’ (emphasis mine).
DORE Australia did not inform clients or staff that they were entitled to attend the first meeting of creditors
on May 23rd, potentially preventing them receiving any refunds or back wages after liquidation. However, the first media reports a week after the receivership state ‘Giles Woodgate from the administrator Woodgate and Co says it is unlikely that creditors will get their money back’. The only official source of information for DORE Australia clients and staff remains appointments cancelled at short notice, and a post tucked away on DORE talk from Wynford Dore’s daughter, even the website is still up as normal (all as of Friday 23rd May).
Wynford Dore left another education-related company on May 15th, the day DORE Australia collapsed. On May 23rd, when DORE UK shut, Wynford emailed customers personally with an apology, again blaming lack of government support for the closures. DORE UK also placed an announcement on the front page of their website. Wynford’s daughter has also been posting on DOREtalk, wondering whether to keep the forums open for now.
Not much information on the rest of the world for now. A staff member in the Carribean is expecting to go to work as normal on the 24th, and New Zealand was still operating as of the 20th May. However, as the FAQs emailed to clients state ‘After many years and £15 million of funding provided by Wynford, it is clear that our ability to continue subsidising the programme to the extent necessary had become impossible’, it’s not clear how DORE worldwide could continue.
More info when I have it. As ever, if you know anything you want to pass on, please leave a comment or email brainquack at gmail dot com.
Regular readers will be unsurprised to know that I suspect the lack of decent research and evidence for the claims made contributed to difficulties. DORE blamed the Australian situation on their lack of government support, which I have countered previously. Without good evidence that the programme worked, it is unreasonable to expect it to be rolled out widely in schools and the health service. Myomancy has criticised the business model, but I suspect it was never meant to last this long without government funding. When the research didn’t justify further official funding, they couldn’t keep going indefinitely.
Wynford Dore’s farewell email talked about ‘Scientifically proven results‘, when the only published peer-reviewed research was the Balsall Common studies with just six participants who actually had a diagnosis of dyslexia (by comparison, my un-funded, single-handed undergraduate project looks at 12 people with a formal dyslexia diagnosis and 12 matched controls, so it’s not so hard to do). I’ve blogged Balsall Common and discussed it on DOREtalk. I’ve also discussed several pieces of unpublished DORE ‘research’ on this blog. I’m afraid that none of them together or separately even come close to supporting a claim of ‘scientifically proven results’ for dyslexia, or for any of the other conditions which DORE claim to treat. Bad Science has discussed the Balsall Common studies. Podblack has discussed a recent paper on how DORE came to be as accepted as it was in mainstream teaching, and why such practice is not always evidence-based. HolfordWatch has also looked at how the research and the marketing claims do not always match up. LeftBrainRightBrain has gone through the same DORE research into Aspergers, published in a local newspaper, that I looked at. Many of the key research papers and journal letters are available in full for free, and if you’re half the geek I am make for interesting reading. It’s not much more expensive to do good research than bad, and with real results showing effectiveness then you could make a case for DORE to be publically funded. Such results have not been forthcoming. This has been covered up by glitzy marketing, positive anecdotes, and a habit of unleashing the lawyers on anyone who criticised DORE. The legal suppression of criticism has extended to academics, self-help groups, and most horrifyingly even parents who just wanted to say that the treatment didn’t work for their child.
Whatever really happened, the obvious distress of those caught up in it doesn’t do anyone any good. I wish all the best to the clients, & staff who worked directly with them. The one thing all Educational Psychology research can agree on is the importance of hope, supportive and involved care-givers, and I’d add a good streak of determination to that. The families who have the commitment to tackle the DORE programme have every chance of doing well, with or without it. Good luck to all.