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1 Pedagogy, learning and subject knowledge


Module Overview

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Figure 1 Supporting GTC Scotland Professional Update

Welcome to this free module, Supporting Dyslexia and inclusive practice. It is designed primarily for support to learning and specialist teachers and local authority inclusion staff. However, anyone with an interest in developing their professional learning to support and understand Dyslexia and inclusive practie may also participate in the module. The module supports the recommendations of the 2014 Education Scotland Review: 'Making Sense: Education for Children and Young People with Dyslexia in Scotland'. It is the second of three linked modules by the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit and Dyslexia Scotland with the support of the Opening Educational Practices in Scotland Project. All three modules use the General Teaching Council Scotland's (GTCS') focus areas identified to support professional learning:

  1. Pedagogy, learning and subject knowledge
  2. Curriculum and assessment
  3. Enquiry and research
  4. Educational contexts and current debates in policy, education and practice
  5. Sustaining and developing professional learning
  6. Learning for sustainability

Further information on the GTCS professional learning can be accessed online

The Scottish Government is working with partners who have supported the development of free professional learning resources, some of which are highlighted below. These resources aim to provide teachers and local authority staff with an awareness of what dyslexia is, its impact and how it can be supported within an inclusive school community.

  • The Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit – An online resource developed by an expert working group and funded by the Scottish Government. The toolkit is managed by Dyslexia Scotland to support teachers and provide information on dyslexia and literacy difficulties.
  • Education Scotland − Route Map for Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice – To support deeper learning and understanding of dyslexia using the GTCS areas for career long professional learning (CLPL) and the four broad elements identified by Education Scotland. This route map supports teachers in reflective practice, inclusive practice and professional learning. This introductory short online module was developed in partnership with The Open University in Scotland. It follows the same structure as the route map above

Module 1, ‘Introduction to Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice’, focused on what dyslexia is, its impact and how it can be supported within an inclusive school community. You developed an awareness of:

  • The education context in Scotland and the national agenda
  • What dyslexia is and its impact
  • Dyslexia and inclusive practice
  • Effective communication
  • How dyslexia is identified
  • Information and practical support strategies

Module 2 aims to further support your understanding of dyslexia, inclusive practice and literacy development.

Learning Outcomes:

By participating in the tasks you will have a deeper understanding of:

  • Dyslexia and inclusive practice within the Scottish context of education, equality and equity
  • Dyslexia and how it is identified
  • Dyslexia, co-occurring additional support needs and inclusive practice
  • Effective communication
  • Support strategies

The module includes a reflective log, which can be used to support the GTCS’ requirement to maintain professional standards. The activities in this module have been designed to support self-evaluation, reflective practice and professional development for you as an individual practitioner. The activities are also designed to support group work with colleagues and professional discussions with your line manager which can include annual reviews and professional update.

At the start of the module you should complete the self-evaluation and reflect on this again at the end of the module. During the module, you can test your knowledge by taking some practice quizzes. At the end of the module, you will be asked to complete an assessed quiz. If you gain a score of at least 80% in the assessed quiz, have attempted the practice quizzes and have clicked through all the pages of the module you will earn a digital badge.

Activity 1 Download the Module 2 Reflective Log

In your reflective log you should start by noting down:

  • The professional actions you took following the completion of module 1
  • What you hope to achieve in studying this module.
  • Download the template for the self- evaluation wheel and complete it.

1.1 The Scottish context for dyslexia and inclusive practice

Module 1 Section 1 Recap

Module 1 highlighted that Scotland’s education system is designed to be an inclusive one for all children and young people in Scottish schools with or without additional support needs. Our ‘needs led’ system places the learner at the centre and the provision of support is not dependent upon a formal label or identification of need such as dyslexia, autism or a physical disability.

The 2014 Education Scotland report Making Sense: Education for Children and Young People with Dyslexia in Scotland was the outcome of an independent review of education for children and young people who have dyslexia, carried out on behalf of the Scottish Government. The report highlighted 5 interlinking recommendations to improve the outcomes of learners with dyslexia, all of which the Scottish Government’s response supported. The Making Sense Working Group is working with stakeholders to support the implementation of the review’s recommendations.

1.1.1 Inclusion and equality in educational policy

Despite the range of legislation and policy which are in place and have been for a number of years, ensuring inclusion and equality for all learners is a complex process.

Activity 2

In your reflective log note down some of the factors which you feel contribute towards the complex process of ensuring inclusion and equity for all learners.

Click ‘Discussion’ to see some contributing factors which we thought. Do note that this list is not exhaustive.

  • Local authority, school/establishment/ management and practitioner’s understanding of:
  • legislative requirements and policy drivers
  • their duties, values and standards of their professional body, for example the GTCS standards for registration
  • appropriate planning and implementation for curriculum accessibility and flexibility when this is required
  • Local authority/School/establishment ethos supporting inclusion and equality.
  • Opportunities for children and young people to actively participate and share their views
  • Partnership working
  • Effective self-evaluation and reflection
  • Wider school community participation

UNESCO highlight:

‘The central message is simple: every learner matters and matters equally. The complexity arises, however, when we try to put this message into practice. Implementing this message will likely require changes in thinking and practice at every level of an education system, from classroom teachers and others who provide educational experiences directly, to those responsible for national policy’.

‘A Guide for ensuring inclusion and equity in education’ UNESCO 2017. images/ 0024/ 002482/ 248254e.pdf

Module 1: Section 1.1 provided an overview of the Scottish context for education and inclusive practice, highlighting national agendas, legislation and guidance within which local authorities, teachers and other educators work (Refresh your memory of Module 1: Section 1.1). Figure 2 provides further details on some specific legislation and policies which support inclusion, equality and diversity within the Scottish context.

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Figure 2 Scottish Educational Context

1.1.2 Additional Support Needs

In Scotland pupils who may require additional support under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, as amended, have a barrier to learning as a result of one or more of the four factors giving rise to additional support needs:

  • Learning environment
  • Family circumstances
  • Disability or health need
  • Social and emotional factors
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Figure 3 Barriers to Learning

Additional support is a broad and inclusive term which applies to children or young people who, for whatever reason, require additional support, long or short term, in order to help them make the most of their school education and to be included fully in their learning. ‘Additional Support Needs’ is the standard terminology used in Scotland when children and young people need more – or different - support to what is normally provided in schools or pre-schools to children of the same age. The term additional support needs covers a wide range of factors and children or young people may require additional support for a variety of reasons.

Activity 3 Revealed task

Think about your understanding of additional support needs and why children and young people may need some additional support. You may choose to take notes in your reflective log.

Click ‘reveal’ to see a list which highlights that children or young people may require additional support for a variety of reasons. Please note that this list in not exhaustive.


These may include those who:

  • Have motor or sensory impairment
  • Are being bullied
  • Are particularly able or talented
  • Have experienced a bereavement
  • Are interrupted learners
  • Have a learning disability
  • Are looked after by the local authority
  • Have a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia
  • Are living with parents who are abusing substances
  • Are living with parents who have mental health problems
  • Have English as an additional language
  • Are not attending school regularly
  • Have emotional or social difficulties
  • Are on the child protection register
  • Are young carers

Or any other reason.

Activity 4

The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, as amended, states that a barrier to learning results from one or more of the factors giving rise to additional support needs, otherwise learning is inhibited.

What are the factors which give rise to additional support needs?



Learning environment

Living environment

Family circumstances

Financial difficulties

A disability or health need

A disability

A health need

Social and emotional needs

Social needs

Emotional needs

Social deprivation

Learning activities

Play spaces

1.1.3 Overview of relevant legislation which supports inclusion.

Figure 4 highlights a range of legislation which is in place to support and promote inclusion within Scottish schools and local authorities. Further details of relevant legislation can be found in section 4 of this module. Legislation which places duties on schools and local authorities to support and provide inclusive education for learners in Scotland can be linked directly to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Support for all learners begins within the classroom and is provided by the classroom teacher who holds the main responsibility for nurturing, educating and meeting the needs of all pupils in their class, working in partnership with support staff to plan, deliver and review curriculum programmes. Support for children and young people with dyslexia and also those who experience literacy difficulties and other additional support needs is achieved through universal support within the staged levels of intervention which is discussed in further detail in section 4.

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Figure 4 Legislation and overview of support

1.1.4 Improving inclusive practice will support schools and local authorities to meet key national priorities

The delivery plan builds on work contained in the National Improvement Framework and the recommendations of the 2016 ‘Improving Schools in Scotland: An OECD Perspective’. The National Improvement Framework, published in January 2016, sets out a vision based on achieving excellence and equity for all, regardless of pupils' social background and circumstances. It sets out four priority areas for change highlighted below, which provide a shared focus for all partners to work together to make that vision a reality by addressing the 6 drivers of the National Improvement Framework, which are so critical to delivery:

  • To improve attainment for all, particularly in literacy and numeracy
  • To improve the learning progress of every child, by reducing inequality in education
  • To improve children and young people’s health and wellbeing
  • To improve employability skills and sustained positive school leaver destinations for all young people.

Delivering Excellence and Equity in Scottish Education - A delivery plan for Scotland sets how the Scottish Government will work with partners to deliver excellence and equity for every child in education in Scotland through a programme for delivery with a focus on action around three core aims:

  • Closing the attainment gap
  • Ensuring we have a curriculum that delivers for our children and teachers, and
  • Empowering our teachers, schools and communities to deliver for children and young people.

The delivery plan followed engagement with a number of key education partners at an education summit focussing on raising attainment. The plan is also closely aligned with the improvement drivers outlined in the National Improvement Framework.

1.1.5 Raising Attainment, Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice

The Scottish Government’s vision is that Scotland should be the best place to go to school. “We want each child to enjoy an education that encourages them to be the most successful they can be and provides them with a full passport to future opportunity. To achieve this, we need to raise attainment consistently and for all our children and young people, and progressively reduce inequity in educational outcomes”.

The aims of the 2014 Making Sense report’s recommendations are consistent with the aims of national key aims for the National improvement framework, Scotland’s Delivery plan and Attainment Challenge Programme. Topics/ Education/ Schools/ Raisingeducationalattainment

To achieve the core aims of the National Improvement Framework and Scotland’s Delivery plan an understanding of and a focus on additional support needs must be incorporated within schools and local authority planning and practice at the earliest stage and not perceived to be an area which can be incorporated if needed. This approach will support timely and cost-effective planning which focus on the national agenda and aims.

Activity 5

1. Reflective questions for professional dialogue with colleagues

The following questions can be used when engaging in professional dialogue during professional learning opportunities and discussions with colleagues. The outcomes from these discussions can support planning for professional learning opportunities and improvement plans.

You can collate the responses in your reflective log. Click to 'download a discussion sheet if required.

  • How well does inclusive education ensure improved outcomes for children and young people with dyslexia?
  • How effectively does the provision of education support and secure improved achievement and attainment for children and young people with dyslexia and with literacy difficulties?
2. Reflections on your practice

In your reflective log consider how you have supported a learner with dyslexia to raise their attainment

  • What have I done?
  • How do I know attainment was improved?
  • What made the difference?
  • How can I build on this learning to support more learners?

1.2 What is Dyslexia?

Module 1 Section 2 Recap

Module 1 highlighted the 2009 Scottish Government working definition of dyslexia which was developed and agreed by the Scottish Government, Dyslexia Scotland and the Cross-Party Group on Dyslexia in the Scottish Parliament

Historical background

The term ‘dyslexia’ has been used since around the late 1880s and was introduced by a German Ophthalmologist Rudolf Berliner, prior to this the characteristics which were observed by Adolph Kussmaul, a German neurologist as ‘word blindness’. Both scientists highlighted the link between individuals’ difficulties with reading and visual difficulties but recognised that those difficulties did not represent the individual’s cognitive ability. Berliner developed the term ‘dyslexia’ from the Greek words.

dys = difficult, hard - Greek - δυσ (dus)

lexia = reading, word, speech - λέξις (lexis)

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Figure 5 Pictorial Definition of Dyslexia

As the working definition highlights, dyslexia exists in all cultures and across the range of abilities and socio-economic backgrounds and it is not linked specifically to either low or high cognitive ability. This means that learners of all cognitive ability levels can be dyslexic. When exploring if learners may have dyslexia it is important that consideration is given to a range of factors which may be creating the child or learners’ barriers to learning. The broad Scottish working definition aims to provide guidance for educational practitioners, learners, parents/carers and others that dyslexia does not only occur because of literacy difficulties as highlighted in figure 6.

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Figure 6 Other factors to consider

1.2.1 Dyslexia and Literacy

Historically dyslexia and literacy have been intrinsically linked together. The early research and investigations which started in the late 1800s were carried out by individuals who believed that dyslexia was caused by visual processing difficulties which in turn caused individuals to experience difficulties with reading. Over the years a range of definitions have been developed in the United Kingdom and internationally which focus predominately on dyslexia being caused by difficulties experienced with literacy skills, particularly reading and spelling. It is therefore understandable that literacy is very often the first and sometimes the only area people associate dyslexia with. However it is important to be aware that there can be a range of reasons why a child or young person is experiencing literacy difficulties which may not be due to dyslexia. Conversely, a learner may be able to read and write with the result that concerns are not raised, yet they may experience difficulties with processing, working memory and organisation which can have a significant impact on their learning.

Practitioners need to explore, indeed rule out possible other factors which can impact on the development of literacy skills, some of which are highlighted in figure 7. This can be done by using a collaborative and holistic identification pathway (such as the one available in the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit and which was highlighted within Module 1), combined with the Toolkit’s Literacy Circles. These resources can help those involved to explore the causal factor of the learner’s literacy difficulty and determine if it is due to dyslexia. However it is also important to remember that our education system is ‘needs led’ and that the support provided to learners is not dependent on a formal identification or label. The learner can receive the same support whether they are dyslexic or not.

Activity 6

In your reflective log note down other factors which you feel can impact on the development of literacy skills?

Click ‘reveal’ to see figure 7 which highlights a range of other factors which can have an impact on the development of literacy skills. Please note they are not exhaustive.

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Figure 7 Dyslexia and literacy

Activity 7 Reflective questions for professional dialogue with colleagues

The following questions can be used when engaging in professional dialogue during professional learning opportunities and discussions with colleagues. The outcomes from these discussions can support planning for professional learning opportunities and improvement plans. You can collate the responses in your reflective log. Click to 'download' a discussion sheet if required.

  • How successfully do we use the most appropriate teaching methods to support dyslexic learners in acquiring the tools for reading and developing higher order comprehension skills? How well do we choose suitable tasks, activities and resources?
  • Do our teaching staff have the required knowledge and understanding to teach literacy and how do we know?

1.3 Dyslexia and inclusive practice

Module 1, Section 3 Recap

Dyslexia friendly approaches to learning and teaching support child centred inclusive practice.

What are Dyslexia Friendly Schools?

Neil Mackay developed the ‘Dyslexia Friendly Schools’ concept in 1998. The key aims of Dyslexia Friendly Schools were to enhance the impact of learning and teaching on the child in the classroom and to ensure that teaching was multi-sensory and benefited all children, not just those with dyslexia. The approach has developed over the years and is inclusive and holistic, reflecting current research on effective positive learning for children with literacy difficulties.

Key features of Dyslexia Friendly Schools are

  • Effective leadership and management
  • Multi-sensory teaching approaches
  • Effective early identification
  • Effective transition support
  • Learner engagement
  • Parental engagement
  • Learning and teaching resources which can accessed by dyslexia learners

1.3.1 What is Dyslexia Friendly Practice?

Dyslexia Friendly Practice is an important element of inclusive practice including approaches to learning and teaching which are child centred and also support inclusive practice for all learners. A number of contributory factors are supporting the development, recognition and implementation of inclusive practice within Scottish education with the aim of improving the educational experiences and outcomes of learners who are dyslexic.

  • Current education policies and legislation which support inclusion and equality legislation
  • Professional duties e.g. General Teaching Council for Scotland
  • Self-evaluation frameworks to support improvement
  • Acceptance that dyslexia exists and the neurological, genetic and environmental factors which impact on dyslexia
  • Availability of a free national online resource, the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit which supports inclusive practice
  • Improved understanding of an “holistic/collaborative” assessment for dyslexia
  • The 2014 ‘Making Sense Review’ recommendations – Improving outcomes for dyslexic learners
  • Improving understanding of links between effective support for dyslexia and inclusive practice for all learners.

It is the responsibility of schools and their partners to bring the experiences and outcomes together and apply these entitlements to produce programmes for learning across a broad and inclusive curriculum.

Every child and young person is entitled to expect their education to provide them with:

  • A curriculum which is coherent from 3 to 18
  • A broad general education, including well planned experiences and outcomes across all the curriculum areas from early years through to S3
  • A senior phase of education after S3 which provides opportunities to obtain qualifications as well as to continue to develop the four capacities
  • Opportunities to develop skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work (including career planning skills) with a continuous focus on literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing
  • Personal support to enable them to gain as much as possible from the opportunities which Curriculum for Excellence can provide
  • Support in moving into positive and sustained destinations beyond school.

Activity 8 Reflective practice task

1. In your reflective log consider:

  • What does inclusive practice mean for you?
  • What does this mean for your learners?
  • What have I done to make my teaching practice inclusive?

2. Complete the following table to establish the current practice in your class or department and identify if any actions can be taken to support improvements. (A copy of this table is in your reflective log)

Key features of Dyslexia Friendly schools In my class/department this means Actions
Effective leadership and management    
Multi-sensory teaching approaches    
Effective early identification    
Effective transition support    
Learner engagement    
Parental engagement    
Learning and teaching resources which can be accessed by dyslexia learners    

Inclusive practice is about meeting the needs of all learners, putting the learner at the centre of the curriculum and ensuring that barriers are removed to enable them to:

  • Participate and learn to the best of their ability.
  • Gain as much as possible from the opportunities which Curriculum for Excellence can provide
  • Move into a positive and sustained destination.

Activity 9

Consider the aims of inclusive practice above and what you feel they can/should look like in practice

Note down your thoughts within your reflective log. Click ‘reveal’ to see an example of each.

  • Participate and learn to the best of their ability.

Consider what can this look like?


An example could be that learners are engaging in learning activities and experiences which match their cognitive ability and provide challenge and interest. To support this, an understanding of the learners’ profile is required to plan appropriate learning and teaching activities.

  • Gain as much as possible from the opportunities which Curriculum for Excellence can provide

Consider what can this look like?


An example could be that the school curriculum is flexible and personalised to meet the needs of learners with additional support needs, ensuring that there is equity and equality in curriculum accessibility. To support this, flexibility and creativity is involved when planning and timetabling the curriculum which includes a range of award bearing courses and vocational opportunities and experiences.

  • Move into a positive and sustained destination.

Consider what can this look like?


An example could be that the attainment levels of learners with dyslexia are in line with their peers. To support this all teachers must be involved in appropriative:

  • Monitoring and tracking of learners’ progress to support early intervention
  • arrangements for assessment and tracking to provide personalised guidance and support throughout the learner journey
  • Use of data to inform effective planning and support

1.4 The impact of dyslexia

The impact of dyslexia can manifest in a variety of ways and should not be underestimated and learners with dyslexia will benefit from early identification, appropriate intervention and targeted, effective support at the right time. How dyslexia is perceived and understood is very important. Early identification with appropriate explanations and support can support the learner and their family to understand their dyslexia and help reduce the negative impact of dyslexia. Early identification can help the learner develop their own strategies and develop their resilience which in turn helps them to approach difficulties in a more positive and effective way. However when effective support and early identification are not in place dyslexia often has a negative impact on learners, parents, families and carers who become distressed that their dependents cannot get the support they need. In both children and adults, when dyslexia is unidentified or unsupported the negative impact can be high – children often lose motivation and become frustrated through the stress of trying to learn, not understanding what dyslexia is and knowing that they are ‘different’ to others because they find difficulty in doing, what to others, are simple tasks. This can lead to acute behavioural problems both at school and at home including bullying and anti-social behaviour, as well as low self-esteem and severe frustration for children not reaching their potential.

The impact on adults whose dyslexia is not identified and supported can be under achievement in further education and employment. The negative effects of dyslexia on self-esteem and confidence can lead to high stress levels, damage to personal relationships, day to day difficulties, depression and mental health problems. There is an established link between offenders and dyslexia. It is estimated that a high percentage of prisoners have literacy difficulties which includes dyslexia.

Understanding how individuals are feeling can help school staff and parents support the learner. However be aware that negative feelings can often be hidden or masked and the learners may need support to help them understand their dyslexia to help them build their resilience and confidence.

The following quotes are edited extracts from ‘Dyslexia and Us’ published by Dyslexia Scotland. The spelling mistakes within the quotes are as written by the contributors.

“It is good being dyslexic. When I first found out I was dyslexic I was 8 years old. Once I found out it was actually good as all the strategies to help me could be put in place, which made everything so much easier. Before I knew I was dyslexic I thought I was rubbish at lots of things.”

(Pupil, female, 9 years old)

“I struggle to do maths. Reeding and right are hard. I forget words. I looz things. I need help.”

(11 year old boy)

“I have dyslexia, my brain is different. At the unit class it is helping me with my reading because I do my reading every day. At school I couldn’t read and write but I can now. My next door nadir is my friend is the same as me and he no how I feels. At home my sister and my brother make fun of me because I can’t say words right and I get upset and cray.”

(11 year old boy)

“I am an eleven year old dyslexic boy and although when I was younger dyslexia got the better of me I now see it as a gift, the power to see the world in a different dimention. As I do not have a spare, non dyslexic mind to compare the way I see the world to I cannot describe how someone like me would see things. But I can say that the mind of a dyslexic is an undoughtably creative one as proved by the almost definitely Leonardo da vinci and Picasso!”

“The relief was enormous when I found out I am dyslexic! I have a very poor short term memory, my reading is inaccurate and when I was tested for dyslexia, my spelling was at the six year old level in P7 (it’s much better now). The school turned out to be great! Once my dyslexia was exposed and my difficulties were out in the open, my teachers gave me a lot of help. Apparently my short term memory does not work like a ‘normal’ person’s, so I forget what has just been said to me – it seems to slide right out of the head. No wonder I could never find the right page!

I used to think that I would end up dropping out of school and end up stacking shelves in some supermarket – but no more. Learning that I have dyslexia has given me a whole new view of life, and I now know that I can have the same ambitions as anyone else – I may just have to take a different route to get there.”

(14 year old girl)

“My oldest daughter is severely dyslexic and looking back on her schooldays reminds me how unhappy they were for her and the family. She was so frustrated by her teachers and her class mates thinking she was stupid, and consequently she was patronised by her teachers and teased by her classmates. I was either battling with her school to give her the proper support she needed, or comforting her at home, or desperately trying to find alternative things in which she could achieve some self esteem.

I always knew she wasn’t stupid so it was a relief when her dyslexia was identified. However, battles continued in the wider world – unable to learn sequences, difficulty in carrying out verbal directions from her driving instructor and often getting on the wrong bus or train because she was unable to read the notice boards. It was a triumph when she made it to university, a dream she never thought she would achieve. My daughter’s determination has been quite extraordinary. In that sense you could say that dyslexia has made her the wonderful person that she is today but it is small comfort for the years of struggling which she has endured.”

(Mother of young adult dyslexic woman)

1.4.1 Responsibility of all – Health and Wellbeing

Supporting health and wellbeing is important for all learners. However, for those who experience barriers to learning it is crucial that this aspect is included within the identification and support process.

The Curriculum for Excellence: Health and Wellbeing principles and practice highlight that it is the responsibility of all practitioners to:

  • establish open, positive, supportive relationships across the school community, where children and young people will feel that they are listened to
  • create an environment where children and young people feel secure in their ability to discuss sensitive aspects of their lives
  • promote a climate in which children and young people feel safe and secure
  • model behaviour which promotes health and wellbeing and encouraging it in others
  • use learning and teaching methodologies which promote effective learning
  • be sensitive and responsive to the wellbeing of each child and young person

Activity 10 Reflective questions for professional dialogue with colleagues

The following questions can be used when engaging in professional dialogue during professional learning opportunities and discussions with colleagues. The outcomes from these discussions can support planning for professional learning opportunities and improvement plans.

You can collate the responses in your reflective log. Click to 'download' a discussion sheet if required.


  • For those learners with dyslexia, how well is their health and wellbeing and in particular mental, social and emotional wellbeing addressed in your classroom or school?
  • How well does your department/faculty or school explore the behaviour of learners? Are potential or unsupported additional support needs such as dyslexia considered to be possible causal factors?

Activity 11 Reflective practice task

In your reflective log consider:

  • What makes the difference to supporting a learner feel comfortable and confident?
  • What are the ingredients for supporting wellbeing?

Activity 12

Select which of the following statements you think are true


1. Learners of all cognitive ability levels can be dyslexic


2. Unidentified or unsupported dyslexia may only have a negative impact if the learner is significantly dyslexic.

The correct answer is a.


Correct answer: Unidentified or unsupported dyslexia may have a negative impact if the learner is dyslexic, irrespective of the severity of their dyslexia.


3. It would be fair to assume that there will be approximately 36 to 90 learners with dyslexia in a school with a role of 900 pupils


4. None of the dyslexic learners in option 3 would be assessed as being disabled under the Equality Act 2010.

The correct answer is a.


Correct answer: If individuals meets the required criteria they will be protected by the Equality Act 2010.


5. Learning and teaching methodologies which promote effective learning should be embedded within every teacher’s practice in line with the principals of Curriculum for Excellence.


6. Using learning and teaching metholodogies which promote effective learning will support all learners, including those who have additional support needs.


7. Specialist Support for learning/ASN teachers  should be responsible for delivering  learning and teaching methodologies which promote effective learning for learners with additional support needs.

The correct answers are a and b.


All teachers should be delivering  learning and teaching methodologies which promote effective learning will support all learners, including those who have additional support needs.

1.5 Effective communication

Module 1, Section 1.6 Recap

Effective communication, respect and partnership working are key requirements between schools and families. They are essential in supporting appropriate and effective identification, planning and monitoring of literacy difficulties and dyslexia.

The GTCS suite of professional standards provides a framework for teachers to examine, inform and continually develop their thinking and practice. The core area of ‘Professional Values and Personal Commitment’ highlights the following as fundamental to being a teacher:

  • Social justice
  • Trust and respect
  • Integrity
  • Professional commitment

These, along with many aspects of Professional Knowledge and Understanding and Professional Skills and Abilities also articulate well with the roles and responsibilities of practitioners for effective communication with learners, parents and colleagues so that they:

  • are engaged in the holistic/collaborative identification process
  • understand what is happening, including the time scales and are kept informed if there are changes.
Described image
Figure 8 Effective partnerships

The importance of effective communication should never be underestimated. Figure 8 highlights those who should (highlighted in Bold), and also who may if appropriate be engaged in effective partnership working. It must be appreciated that there may be other additional people involved if required, depending on the child or young person’s individual needs. The lack of effective and transparent communication can be one of the causal factors of complaints which are raised against a school or local authority. Poor communication can result in misinformation and a misunderstanding of what support and approaches should be taken or should be in place by both staff and parents. Building strong relationships will make it easier to solve disagreements informally.

Legislation is in place to support parents, children and young people to:

  • request specific assessments which must begin within a set time frame
  • access free advocacy and mediation services
  • have access to assessments and information documented about the learner

1.5.1 Support

Dyslexia can be an emotional experience, which can be both positive and unfortunately negative. There are often misconceptions and misunderstanding about dyslexia from all perspectives and the issue of ‘support’ can be misinterpreted. A survey in the 2000s, by a Dyslexia charity, undertaken by parents highlighted that they valued the support, motivation and ethos of the school and the staff far more than physical resources such as IT equipment, one to one tuition and small group work.

Often the school is providing support in a range of ways for a learner, however if they have not communicated this or the progress the learner is making, to the parents, the perception can be that the school is not doing anything and does not believe in dyslexia. A short case study is provided which focuses on sharing information with parents about their children’s progress and learning in school.

QR Codes – Sharing Learning with Parents

This year within Barshare Primary we have been developing QR codes to help us share learning with parents.

In our Supported Learning Centre and mainstream school, many of the children have communication difficulties which means that it can be difficult for parents to see evidence of how their child is supported and the progress the child is making with the interventions in place. That’s when the Barshare Barrier Busters come into action!

Evidence of progress is documented by photographs or video and put onto a QR code. This code is sent home to parents and the learning comes to life!

Check out one of our pupils reciting his poem by scanning the QR code image below.

(If you have difficulty getting the QR code to work or if you don't have a mobile device with a QR code app installed, you can use the following URL yj5gu8k)

His parents recently told us,

“It allows me an insight into what my child is like at school and what he is capable of. I have also been able to share my child’s learning with extended family using the URL…..I look forward to more.”

Particular care must be taken when communicating the process of the collaborative/holistic identification pathway, so that parents and the learner understand what is happening and when it is happening. They also need to understand that the Scottish education system is needs-led, not label-led and that the label itself is not the criteria for support and resources, if appropriate. It is extremely important that this is not inferred or interpreted as the school or local authority not believing or supporting dyslexia.

1.5.2 Support staff

Support staff play a key role within the school community to ensure that information is communicated to colleagues about effective practice to support learners with additional support needs and about individual learners who staff work with. This may take the form of a pupil profile or information within SEEMiS. Further information on the pupil profile can be found in section 2.4

All staff represent the school and therefore the local authority when they meet with parents and learners.

There are a range of roles within support teams, for example, support assistants, support for learning teachers, additional support teachers or Deputy Heads for support. Irrespective of their role, all educational practitioners need to have good interpersonal skills in order to support effective communication within their school community on the identification, support, monitoring and progress of learners. The essential skills include:

  • Empathy
  • Effective people skills
  • Ability to listen
  • Following up and communicating on actions

Activity 13 Reflective practice task

In your reflective log consider how you have communicated the process of identification to


  • Parents
  • Learners
  • Colleagues


Consider and reflect on

  • How did I do it?
  • What made the difference?
  • How can I improve the experience for all involved?

1.6 Language development

“Our ability to use language is central to our thinking, our learning and our personal development. Literacy and language unlock access to the wider curriculum and lay the foundations for communication, lifelong learning and work, contributing strongly to the development of all four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence”.

What happens to children in their earliest years is key to outcomes, including the improvement of educational attainment in childhood, adolescence and in adult life. There is a strong relationship between early life experiences and how children learn. Inequalities experienced by parents and children can affect speech, language and communication development and lead to further inequalities later in life, research has highlighted the importance of positive influences in the early years to improve a child's life chances. These early learning experiences are vital in forming the building blocks from which more formal literacy learning can be developed. A literacy rich environment promotes, supports and enriches listening, talking, reading and writing as highlighted in figure 9. This approach models high standards and sets high expectations for literacy.

Described image
Figure 9 Literacy

The Scottish Government 2010 Literacy Action Plan highlights that literacy starts from birth and in the very early years. The home learning environment for children from birth to 3 years old has a significant impact on cognitive and language development. Parents, irrespective of socio-economic group or where they live, can make a real difference to their children's outcomes by talking to them, playing with them and ensuring they engage in different experiences. Interacting with and providing stimulating environments for young children helps to put in place the building blocks for their growth and development. Communication is crucial to speech and language development, as is early reading to children and encouraging their engagement with books and reading. Extensive research has highlighted the positive impact of reading to children in their pre-school years, for example previously published Growing Up in Scotland data has shown that children who are frequently read to in the first year of life score higher in assessments of cognitive ability at age 3-4 years old. In the very early years the home learning environment for children from birth to 3 years old has a significant impact on cognitive and language development.

Described image
Figure 10 Supporting Language Development

Activity 14

As children grow towards primary school age, their social, emotional, physical and education wellbeing build upon foundations laid in earlier years and continue to be influenced by their home environment and their relationship with their parents. Before formal education can begin, a range of skills should ideally be learnt by the children. Consider what you think these are and click the ‘reveal button’ for the answer.


Before formal education can begins children must learn to:

  • play
  • talk
  • listen
  • understand
  • attend

Figure 10 highlights helpful approaches which can support good language development in young children. A range of resources have been developed by Allied Health Profession for example speech and language therapists to highlight the expected language developmental milestones. Click download to access the PDF file ‘Language milestones’ to see an example.

To support the development of language and numeracy skills for children in Primary 1 – 3 the Scottish Government is leading a campaign which focuses on key skills among children called Read, Write and Count. It is aimed at encouraging and supporting parents and families who have a key role to play in helping their children to read, write and count well, by incorporating these into their everyday activities, such as walking around the supermarket or travelling home from school.

The campaign builds on the Scottish Government’s PlayTalkRead early years campaign and is being delivered in partnership with Education Scotland and The Scottish Book Trust over 3 years. It builds on relevant established frameworks which include Curriculum for Excellence and Raising Attainment for All and aims to tackle educational inequalities and raise attainment in early years and beyond.

For more information and resources on Read, Write, Count, visit

Activity 15

To support a learner improve their literacy skills it is essential to develop an understanding of the learner’s consolidated

  • pre and early phonological skills
  • knowledge of the alphabet, including sequencing and names and sounds of letters.

The links below will take you to free early literacy assessments on the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit and Education Scotland website free-resources-support-collaborative-assessments improvement/ Pages/ sac17polaar.aspx


In your reflective log record your experience of learning about these resources and the impact of them when used with learners. Although the POLAAR resources focus on primary one, the resources within the pack, for example the literature reviews, are still helpful for practitioners working with learners at any stage who have a literacy difficulty, including those in secondary school.

1.7 Literacy, numeracy and wellbeing

Responsibility for all – Curriculum for Excellence

All staff have a responsibility to develop, reinforce and extend learning in the following areas:

  • Health & Wellbeing - Some aspects of the health and wellbeing framework are the responsibility of all adults, working together to support the learning and development of children and young people.
  • Literacy - All practitioners are in a position to make important contributions to developing and reinforcing young people’s literacy skills.
  • Numeracy - Numeracy across learning provides essential analytic, problem solving and decision making skills across the curriculum.

Dyslexia impacts on all three areas, and will impact in varying degrees and in various ways depending on the individual learner. Staff can make a difference and support learners irrespective of the sectors or subject which is being taught.

Activity 16 Reflective questions for professional dialogue with colleagues  

The following questions can be used when engaging in professional dialogue during professional learning opportunities and discussions with colleagues. The outcomes from these discussions can support planning for professional learning opportunities and improvement plans.

You can collate the responses in your reflective log. Click to 'download' a discussion sheet if required.

  • Discuss the impact you feel the “responsibility for all” duty is having on yourself and colleagues.
  • Is there a connection with inclusion and ‘responsibility for all’?

Activity 17

Consider your own experience of working with learners with dyslexia and how the 3 areas of ‘responsibility for all’ impact on them and your practice.

Consider if any of the 3 areas may have a particular impact for learners who are dyslexic.

Click 'Reveal ' to see what we thought. Do note that the lists are not exhaustive.


  Impact of dyslexia
Responsibility for All On the learner - On teaching practice

The negative and positive impacts of dyslexia will vary for each learner and will be influenced by:

  • The severity of the individual’s dyslexia
  • Access to early identification and appropriate support to help develop resilience and reduce low self esteem
  • Environmental aspects.
  • Understanding of dyslexia by the learner, their family, peers and staff.

Learners may need to be supported and encouraged to take responsibility for their learning (age/stage appropriate). It is extremely important that they are given opportunities to build their confidence in using support strategies and understand the impact if they chose not to use them.

All class teachers can support dyslexia across the areas of ‘Responsibility for All’. Some examples are below.

  • Access information provided by support staff on the learner’s profile
  • Implement strategies recommended within the learner’s profile
  • Ensure/encourage each class to develop an ethos of mutual support and respect
  • Ensure that the curriculum is accessible


  • Ensure all course texts are available in a digital format if required.
  • Use multi-sensory teaching approaches
  • Be familiar with the school’s Support for Learning processes
  • Access the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit for information and support.
  • Be aware of child and adolescent behaviour development
  • Develop effective communication between learner, family, support staff
  • Be aware of the negative impact which dyslexia can have on individuals – and that these will vary.
Health & Wellbeing

Possible Negative feelings/actions

  • Low self esteem
  • They are not as clever as others
  • Anxiety
  • Avoidance
  • Feeling different form their peers
  • Determination to hide difficulties
  • Refusal of support – do not want to appear different
  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Disengagement
  • Low expectations

Possible Positive feelings

Confidence with certain skills e.g.

  • a.Spatial awareness/creativity
  • b.Very good imagination
  • c.Good oral skills
  • d.Good debating skills
  • e.Problem solving
  • f.Sport
  • g.Empathy to other peers with ASN
  • h.Feeling proud that they are dyslexic
  • i.Very good use of IT to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding


In addition to the aspects highlighted in ‘Responsibility for All’ there is a requirement to:

Be aware of the negative impact which dyslexia can have on individuals’ health and wellbeing – and that these will vary.

Ensure that the learner knows that they can speak to a trusted adult

Be familiar with school Support for Learning processes and Positive Relationship (anti-bullying) policies


Difficulties with:

expressing/demonstrating their knowledge and understanding in the written form.

The acquisition of language skills – reading writing, listening and talking

Grammar and spelling

Organisation of writing

Reluctant to read out loud or as an individual

Positive aspects

Very good oral presentation skills

Good imagination

Very good use of IT to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding





In addition to the aspects highlighted in ‘Responsibility for All’ there is a requirement to:

Use appropriate IT e.g. Books for All, digital exams, use of portable devices such as tablets, dictation for learners to access information and demonstrate their knowledge and understanding


Appropriate differentiation


Working memory and processing difficulties may manifest as difficulties with:


Language of math

Acquisition of number bonds and mathematical concepts

Rote learning – e.g. times tables

Problem solving


The learner may feel that they are not good at numeracy/math and that they will not improve.




Positive aspects

Some learners do not experience difficulties with numeracy

Learners can develop helpful strategies to help them remember mathematical concepts.

In addition to the aspects highlighted in ‘Responsibility for All’ there is a requirement to develop an awareness and understanding of the links between dyslexia and numeracy and that:


Assumptions are not made that the learner really does understand mathematical concepts which were taught in earlier levels. They may be masking this.


Not all learners with dyslexia experience difficulties with understanding more complex mathematical concepts.


Appropriate supports/resources are available for the learner to access to help them with numeracy. E.g. personal number square, phones, calculators, rulers, displays on the walls or personal planners.


1.7.1 Literacy

As highlighted previously dyslexia is intricately linked to literacy; however, this should not be viewed in isolation or as the only causal factor for the development of dyslexia.

What is literacy?

The Curriculum for Excellence Literacy and English Principles and Practice document states that:

‘in defining literacy for the 21st century we must consider the changing forms of language which our children and young people will experience and use’. Accordingly, our definition takes account of factors such as the speed with which information is shared and the ways in which it is shared. The breadth of our definition is intended to ‘future proof’ it. Within Curriculum for Excellence, therefore, literacy is defined as:

“the set of skills which allows an individual to engage fully in society and in learning, through the different forms of language, and the range of texts, which society values and finds useful”.’

Curriculum for Excellent Literacy and English Principle and Practice, p3.

1.7.2 Literacy and dyslexia

What are the building blocks of literacy development?


Phonological awareness and phonics can often be misunderstood and mistakenly thought to be different terms for the same skill. However they are two distinct skills, one building on the other. They, along with a range of skills, form the foundation of language and literacy development.


Phonological Awareness - Phonological awareness is widely recognised as the strongest predictor of literacy success. It is the ability to manipulate speech sounds.

Phonics - Teaching reading by training beginners to associate letters with their sound(s) and how they are blended to form words.

Phoneme - Awareness that a phoneme is the smallest unit of spoken sound. This can be either a single letter or combination of letters.

Listening to a spoken word and breaking it down into component sounds is fundamental for effective language learning. Learners need to segment and identify:

• Single words in a sentence

• Syllables within words

• The initial sound and other phonemes within words

Learners then need to be able to blend the sounds together in order to make words. Many learners come to school with well-developed phonological awareness and they are able to deduce the links between sound patterns they hear and the written patterns they see. However, some learners do not easily make the phonological links and will need a wide variety of phonological activities such as stories, rhymes, listening activities and/or games to help them develop phonological awareness. This can be true of learners of any age. Children significantly increase their language comprehension and expression when listening to stories read aloud, either at home or at school.

Talking Skills

Planning, organising and saying what we want to say involves many different skills. Talking skills develop from infancy and can be encouraged with activities incorporating sounds, songs, repetition and stories. A planned approach to developing listening and talking skills in the early years will lay the foundations for reading and writing, as well as, developing social and communication skills.

Children need to develop an understanding of using the right words in the correct order to express themselves clearly. They also require exposure to a rich language environment in their early years to develop a wide range of vocabulary to enable them to communicate effectively and achieve positive outcomes.

Listening Skills

Listening skills develop from infancy and can be encouraged with activities incorporating sounds, songs, repetition and stories. A planned approach to developing listening and talking skills in the early years will lay the foundations for reading and writing, as well as, developing social and communication skills.

Reading Skills

If learners are encouraged and supported to read a wide range of texts for enjoyment, they will become more confident in making independent choices in their reading material. Developing as a reader is linked to positive attitudes and experiences, as well as, skills. Curriculum for Excellence recognises the fundamental importance of reading for enjoyment within the reading experiences and outcomes.

If the sound cannot be matched to a letter, the successful introduction of phonics is compromised. Struggling readers of all ages may benefit from revisiting early skills and breaking them down. A range of support approaches and strategies are available for teachers to help children develop their reading skills.

Writing Skills

Writing skills – mark making begins in a child’s early years and should be supported and encouraged. If learners are to become successful and confident writers, then writing has to be viewed as an essential part of the learning environment and across curriculum areas. Learners should have regular opportunities to write, to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding and to make sense of their learning.

They should experience an environment which is rich in language and which sets high expectations for literacy and the use of language. It is important that writing tasks are engaging and relevant with an explicit focus on the skills and knowledge being developed.

Writing skills are dependent on reading skills and should be taught alongside each other. Children significantly increase their language comprehension and expression when listening to stories read aloud, either at home or at school.

Children who experience difficulties with the acquisition of literacy skills will require a range of approaches to support their reading skills, for example a child who has auditory processing difficulty or has glue ear will find it very hard to hear the phonological sounds and transfer them to the graphic images of text. If this is the only approach used in their class, they may experience additional barriers to their literacy development.

All areas of literacy can have an impact on how children and young people access the wider curriculum. It is recognised that good teaching and learning approaches which support children and young people with dyslexia also supports all children and young people to acquire fluency and competency in literacy.

Learning English as an Additional Language (EAL) and Dyslexia.

Speakers of any language can have dyslexic difficulties but these may be different in the ways they manifest themselves. It will be more obvious in some languages than others depending on the spelling rules and writing structures.

For children who speak languages other than English at home, the assessment process will require very careful consideration. Consideration will require to be given to the child’s first language, as well as, English and this may require assistance from a professional who shares the same language as the child. It must be remembered that the phonology of the child’s first language is likely to be different from English and scripts too, may be different. As an example, Polish children who have wholly developed literacy skills will have experience of decoding in alphabetic script but in the case of children exposed to logographic scripts, the relationship between sounds and symbols will be markedly different. Even though children may not have learned to read in their first language they will have been exposed to environmental print. The issue for teachers is to consider whether the child’s difficulties with language extend beyond them having English as another language.

Cline and Hall (1995) advise avoiding the use of standardised assessments, particularly with those new to English as the English and cultural content may give false information. It is more useful to build a profile of the learner’s strengths, including what they can do in their first language, as well as, information about their educational background. To support EAL learners with possible dyslexia, focus on support for the first language involving parents. Many of the strategies that support dyslexic learners will work well with EAL learners but in addition it is important to focus on building vocabulary in a meaningful context, taking account of cultural factors.

Research (Ganschow and Sparks, 2000) confirms that strengths and weaknesses in the linguistic codes of

phonology/orthography (sounds/letter patterns), syntax and semantics are transferred between languages. So learning a second language challenges dyslexic students because it requires those skills that are frequently compromised in dyslexia - sequencing ability, phonological knowledge and both short and long-term memory (Wolf, 2008). The processing differences associated with the specific learning difficulty (SpLD)/dyslexia can also cause listening difficulties (Crombie & McColl, 2001), making a second language as complex, inconsistent and challenging as English and more difficult for dyslexic children to acquire (Ziegler et al, 2003).

Further information on literacy and research can be found in the Enquiry and Research section.

Activity 18

In Module 1 you accessed the Reading and Writing Literacy Circles and downloaded the summary PDF. 

The full interactive versions of the literacy circles can be found on the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit in the resources section.


Download the summary files again if needed below


PDF Reading Circle

PDF Writing Circle


In your reflective log use one of circle’s planning tool, which has been adapted from the summary files to establish the literacy needs of a learner you are working with and develop a plan to support the learner’s literacy needs.


Share this approach and any impact it has with your colleagues and line manager.

1.7.3 Numeracy

What is numeracy?

The Curriculum for Excellence Numeracy across learning Principles and Practice document states that:

Numeracy is a skill for life, learning and work. Having well-developed numeracy skills allows young people to be more confident in social settings and enhances enjoyment in a large number of leisure activities. For these and many other reasons, all teachers have important parts to play in enhancing the numeracy skills of all children and young people.

Numeracy development progresses as part of mathematics and underpins much of what is taught in this curriculum area. Learning mathematics gives children and young people access to the wider curriculum and the opportunity to pursue further studies and interests. Numeracy across learning provides essential analytical, problem-solving and decision-making skills across the curriculum.

Numeracy represents important skills for life, learning and work. It is also a life skill which permeates and supports all areas of learning and is not just a subset of mathematics.We are numerate if we have developed:

‘the confidence and competence in using number which will allow individuals to solve problems, analyse information and make informed decisions based on calculations’.

A numerate person will have acquired and developed fundamental skills and be able to carry out number processes but, beyond this, being numerate also allows us to access and interpret information, identify possibilities, weigh up different options and decide on which option is most appropriate.

Numeracy and dyslexia

Described image
Figure 11 Dyslexia and Numeracy

Figure 11 highlights possible correlation between dyslexia and numeracy. All of the areas can be linked to the Scottish working definition of dyslexia and consideration must be given to the potential areas of difficulty. However, it is also vital to remember the individuality of learners and that some learners may not experience difficulties with numeracy, indeed this may be an area of strength for them. The strengths and areas of difficulty are identified through appropriate collaborative and holistic assessment.

1.7.4 Health and Wellbeing

The Health and wellbeing Principles and Practice document states that:

‘Learning in health and wellbeing ensures that children and young people develop the knowledge and understanding, skills, capabilities and attributes which they need for mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing now and in the future. Learning through health and wellbeing enables children and young people to:

  • make informed decisions in order to improve their mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing
  • experience challenges and enjoyment
  • experience positive aspects of healthy living and activity for themselves
  • apply their mental, emotional, social and physical skills to pursue a healthy lifestyle
  • make a successful move to the next stage of education or work
  • establish a pattern of health and wellbeing which will be sustained into adult life, and which will help to promote the health and wellbeing of the next generation of Scottish children.

It also enables some to perform at high levels in sport or prepare for careers within the health and leisure industries’.

Everyone within each learning community, whatever their contact with children and young people may be, shares the responsibility for creating a positive ethos and climate of respect and trust – one in which everyone can make a positive contribution to the wellbeing of each individual within the school and the wider community

What is health and wellbeing?

Health and wellbeing is structured into six organisers:

  • Mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing
  • Planning for choices and changes
  • Physical education, physical activity and sport
  • Food and health
  • Substance misuse
  • Relationships, sexual health and parenthood

Those in bold are the responsibility of all. (Physical activity and sport at early and first levels.)

1.7.5 Health and wellbeing and dyslexia

Section 1.4 highlights the negative impact on a learner’s confidence and mental health which unsupported and unidentified dyslexia can have.

Activity 19

Complete the sentence below.

All staff have a responsibility to develop, reinforce and extend learning


for literacy skills


however, staff would be advised to focus mainly on literacy and do not need to evaluate how good their support is for numeracy and health and wellbeing.


for health and wellbeing, literacy and numeracy. This includes supporting learners who have additional support needs.


for health and wellbeing, literacy and numeracy. Supporting learners who have additional support needs such as dyslexia is the responsibility of specialist staff.

The correct answer is c.

Now try the Formative quiz 1  to consolidate your knowledge and understanding from this section. Completing the quizzes is part of gaining the digital badge, as explained in the module overview.

Now go to Curriculum and assessment