Dyslexia has never attracted as much attention as it does now. The number of pupils and adults diagnosed as dyslexic has spiralled to the point where the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) estimate that 10% of the population have it.
As a school, it is important that you have considered the provision that you make for dyslexic pupils alongside your general focus on improving teaching and learning. The good news, is that making your school dyslexia-friendly need not mean too much upheaval. Good practice for the dyslexic pupil is usually good practice for other pupils too.
In fact, the BDA are keen to promote that dyslexia is a difference in learning rather than a difficulty and prefer that the support you provide is part of your provision for an inclusive, differentiated curriculum rather than as part of your SEN entitlement.
Dyslexia can be very difficult to diagnose. Letter and number reversal are the most common signs but these are generally very common up to the age of 7 or 8. Other signs you might note include:
- Learning nursery rhymes
- Paying attention
- Getting dressed
- Carrying out more than one instruction
- Hopping or skipping
- Following instructions
- Pronouncing words
- Following a story
- Remembering things in sequential order
- With the concept of time
- Taking notes
- Identifying the main ideas
- Learning foreign languages
- Processing problems quickly
The dyslexia friendly school
There are four standards that make up the dyslexic friendly school:
- Leadership and management – including planning for dyslexia in the school improvement plan and other policy documents
- Teaching and learning – including training and development of teachers
- Classroom environment – such as use of resources and classroom organisation
- Partnership and liaison with parents and governors
To help you tune yourself more to your dyslexic students you might begin by asking yourself some key questions:
- How do we identify dyslexic pupils?
- How do we know who our dyslexic pupils are?
- How do we support our dyslexic pupils in and outside of the classroom?
- How do we ensure that dyslexic pupils are able to succeed in all subjects?
- How does our assessment practice support our dyslexic pupils?
Strategies you might use
Many of these are the process of good teaching and learning and will support all pupils in a class and not just those with dyslexia. For example:
- Target-setting and monitoring progress
- Immediate intervention where a problem emerges
- Giving learners more time to complete tasks
- Introducing different ways of recording information
- The use of synthetic phonics
- Using a multi-sensory approach
- Providing instructions in different ways
- Making learning intentions clear and summarising at the end of the lesson
- Focusing on how pupils learn and using a balance of different approaches to suite different learning styles
For more information on research and practice:
‘Teaching Children with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties’ the independent report by Sir Jim Rose includes recommendations for identifying and teaching children with dyslexia. See link opposite.