How we help pupils with dyslexic tendencies at BCS
Research suggests that approximately 10% of the UK population experience dyslexia, meaning that roughly 3 children in every class may present with dyslexic tendencies. At Bowdon Church School we try to ensure that we put in place strategies so that pupils can overcome any barriers to learning from this specific learning difficulty. We also feel that it is important to emphasise how non-'neurotypical' brains can be celebrated!
What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a specific learning difficult that is commonly associated with trouble learning to read. However, it can also translate to scribing skills (poor handwriting, trouble with letter formation, finding it difficult to copy from the board etc.)
More information can be found on these websites:
What do I need to do? Does my child need to be assessed?
Your first point of contact should be the class teacher: ultimately they are well equipped to comment on your child's progress and can also discuss your concerns. If they share your concerns, they will:
1) Start an Assess, Plan, Do, Review cycle. (This follow's Trafford's Graduated Approach and incorporates Quality First Teaching (QFT) strategies - more on this below). They will also discuss their concerns with the school SENCos at this point.
2) After a half-term/full term (sometimes, the class teacher will feel that a pupil will need longer to work towards their targets outlined in the APDR cycle), we will review the targets and if we feel that their needs have been addressed, we will no longer need to continue with the cycle. Most of the time, a second cycle of APDR will be needed. New targets/tweaked targets will be put into place.
To help us understand a pupil's needs further, some in-house assessments may be carried out at this stage. This will enable us to pinpoint specific areas that we can focus on in target setting and intervention.
We find that most of the time, for pupils with dyslexic tendencies, their needs can be met through Quality First Teaching strategies and by creating a dyslexic friendly classroom. If we feel that your child's needs are being met at school, a referral does not need to be made. A referral to SENAS (Special Educational Needs Advisory Service) will only be made if we feel that we need further advice and support due to the lack of progress a pupil is making, despite the additional support we've put in place for them.
3) If we feel that we need specialised support and advice, we can refer to SENAS who assess pupils and provide us with further suggestions. Otherwise, if we feel that we are meeting your child's needs, we continue with further cycles of APDR to monitor their progress and impact of interventions and strategies we've put into place.
What do you do at BCS to address dyslexic pupils' needs?
As mentioned above, we utilise quality-first teaching strategies (this is standard practice in all BCS classrooms) to address and remove any barriers. This involves adjustments to activities such as:
- Teachers are able to identify specific difficulties and make suitable adjustments
- Teaching includes demonstration, prompts, visual support and opportunities for practice
- Teaching uses multisensory methods broken down into manageable steps
- Concrete, practical-based learning activities
- Differentiation in presentation, pace and outcome
- Staff are aware of the implications of mild sensory impairment, fine motor skill development and medical issues
- Pupils work collaboratively in mixed-ability groups
- Specialist resources available in class e.g. coloured overlays, word mats, table squares
- Social and emotional factors are taken into account
- Pupils' learning preferences are identified and addressed in teaching
- Pupils receive prompt, constructive feedback
- Alternatives to copying from board are in place
- Pupils use alternative methods of recording learning
- Cursive handwriting should be introduced as part of a multi-sensory approach
- Material to support reading, writing, organisation or attention are provided e.g. visual timetables, task plans, vocabulary cards, visual aids, adapted writing frames with word and sentence support.
- Opportunities for pre-teaching of vocabulary where necessary
- Some small group or 1:1 intervention may be required e.g. reading, maths, motor skills / catch-up programmes such as individual Read, Write, Inc; Catch Up Literacy, Dynamo Maths
- Computing resources such as Clicker, Nessy (a dyslexia reading and spelling programme), Helper Bird, screen overlays, voice recorders, typing programmes, text-to-speech programmes.
- CPD and resources for teaching staff using NASEN Mini Guides / Inclusion Development Programme (IDP) / Dyslexia Trust resources / LA or other staff training
- Additional adults routinely used to support flexible groupings, differentiation and where appropriate provide 1:1 intervention
A Dyslexia Friendly Classroom involves:
- A well organised environment with clear routines to minimise movement and noise
- A good mix of Visual, Auditory, Tactile and Kinaesthetic activities within each lesson
- Dyslexic pupils ideally sit within easy eye contact of the teacher
- Resource boxes / Goody boxes – lots of visual and hands-on support
- A variety of writing implements (option of pencils or pens)
- Revisiting reading and spelling strategies at the start of each year and having these displayed for constant reference
- A selection of high interest/ low reading age texts available
- Whiteboards with coloured markers to practise spellings and sentences
- Keyword cards; eg. Days of the week/Months of the year cards
- Writing planning boards or writing frames
- Using a variety of recording methods – mind maps, storyboards, flowcharts, videos, diagrams, oral presentation
- Using ICT as a multi-sensory method of working
- Giving children thinking and talking time
- Having drinking water available
- Using ‘buddies’ or ‘peer mentors’ to help with homework / organising
- Colour photocopies / coloured wallets / coloured reading rulers for use with white paper or reading books to help reduce any visual stress
- Off-white / coloured backgrounds on screens
Different interventions (for dyslexia) that we use at BCS:
- Spelling Bee
- Toe by Toe
- Nessy Spelling
- Precision Teach
What if the strategies and interventions put in place don't work?
As mentioned above, the class teacher will continue to track and monitor the progress your child makes through the use of the APDR cycle.
If they feel that the strategies and interventions are having little impact, a referral to SENAS may be considered. SENAS will be able to further assess a pupil and offer further advice on how their barriers to learning may be overcome.
It is important to note that a referral will be made if we feel that we need further advice on how we can support a child's needs. Quite often, a dyslexic child's needs can be met without a referral.