On Thursday 11th February 2021 we hosted the fourth of our ‘Inviting the Experts…’ series of webinars. This is a series of CPD sessions which we have set up recognising the incredible work that is going on in schools right now in particularly challenging circumstances and the need for school staff to have access to informative, practical advice from experts.
The session was delivered by Gillian Ashley, Head of Training and Chief Development Officer from the British Dyslexia Association, who gave an expert introduction to dyslexia and the practical support that schools can provide. Here are some key items from the session:
- Reading and spelling
- Processing information
- It may relate to a specific learning difficulty
- It is independent of ability or socio-economic background
- It is included within the Equality Act 2010 – so schools need to make reasonable adjustments for both teachers and learners with dyslexia
The BDA has adopted the Rose (2009) definition of dyslexia:
“Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed. Dyslexia occurs across the range of intellectual abilities. It is best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category, and there are no clear cut-off points. Co-occurring difficulties may be seen in aspects of language, motor co-ordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation, but these are not, by themselves, markers of dyslexia. A good indication of the severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds or has responded to well-founded intervention.”
In addition to these characteristics:
“The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) acknowledges the visual and auditory processing difficulties that some individuals with dyslexia can experience, and points out that dyslexic readers can show a combination of abilities and difficulties that affect the learning process. Some also have strengths in other areas, such as design, problem solving, creative skills, interactive skills and oral skills.”
It is estimated that:
- 11% of the population have a genetic disposition to Special Learning Difficulties which can affect dyslexia
- 4% of the population are seriously affected by dyslexia
- Therefore about 3 or 4 children in a class of 30 will have dyslexia diagnosed or undiagnosed
The SEND Code of Practice (2014) requires schools to:
- Put in place identification processes
- Respond early to emerging difficulties
- Put in place effective provision which meets the learners needs
- Regularly assess progress
- Amend provision when necessary
Understand the vicious reading circle:
- Poor decoding… leads to…
- Slow reading… leads to…
- Difficulty remembering… leads to…
- Poor comprehension… leads to…
- Frustration/loss of motivation… leads to…
- Reluctance to read… leads to…
- Poor vocabulary skills… leads to…
- Poor decoding… and so on…
How can we help?:
- With phonics:
- Sound check – letter names and sounds
- Teach high frequency words
- HFW with consonants and short vowels
- Consonants and regular spelling patterns
- Completely irregular – sight words
- With decoding:
- Teach decoding skills
- Syllable division
- Pre-fix – root word – suffix
- Onset and rime
- Teach decoding skills
- With reading for fluency
- Paired reading
- Echo reading
- Teaching prosody
Writing requires the following skills:
- Motor skills
- Knowledge of orthography: letter formation, writing conventions, punctuation.
- Knowledge of language: vocabulary, spelling, word and sentence grammar, syntax.
- Knowledge of the subject and ability to generate ideas
- Ability to organise and structure ideas.
- Confidence in our ability to write
There are great resources to help schools support children developing language:
- The Communications Trust www.thecommunicationtrust.org.uk
- I Can www.ican.org.uk
- The Talking Point www.talkingpoint.org.uk
- Teaching English www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/vocabulary-activities
Multi-sensory teaching involves including more than one sense at the same time in a learning experience. The simultaneous aspect is crucial as the brain is wired to develop, learn and operate optimally in multi-sensory environments:
- See it, touch it, say it
- Touch it, say it, write it
- See it, make it, say it, write it
Some examples of multi-sensory teaching include:
- Say the letter names when spelling words
- Rainbow writing
- Sand trays
- Spelling rules
- Write syllables in words in different colours
There are lots of apps now for learners with dyslexia, reading and writing difficulties:
- Assistive technology can enable learners to overcome difficulties with reading, writing and spelling such as:
- slow or illegible handwriting
- lack of fluency when reading
- struggling to plan when writing
- Identify the point of breakdown in a skill as this will help you to match the intervention to the need.
- Multi-sensory teaching provides learning experiences which involve the use of several senses simultaneously and develops memory hooks.
- Enable access to assistive technology for pupils to alleviate the difficulties they experience.
- Check out The Education Endowment Foundation for Metacognition.
For further support and resources, the British Dyslexia Association recommend the following links:
- Can help to create a passport? https://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/advice/educators/teaching-for-neurodiversity
- BDA Youtube – useful ideas/ webinars: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_VUqQhD2oS0Zi-H47v8NKg
- Helen Arkell – teaching for dyslexia videos (including spelling) https://www.helenarkell.org.uk/about-dyslexia/teaching-for-dyslexia-videos.php
We are very grateful to our supporters Towergate and The Education Broker, whose support enables us to provide these sessions for free, and who are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of young people and staff in the education sector. Please visit their websites to learn more about what they do or call on 01438 739626 to discuss your insurance, risk management and health and wellbeing requirements.
If you are a member of our Hub you can view the recording of this webinar.
Not a Hub Member? Find out about the benefits of membership.