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An introduction to dyslexia and inclusive practice

Module overview

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Figure 1 Module overview

Welcome to this free module, An introduction to dyslexia and inclusive practice. It is designed to provide an introduction for teachers, community educators and anyone with an interest in developing positive approaches to supporting dyslexia in their inclusive practice. 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 first of three linked modules shown in Figure 1 written by the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit working group, Dyslexia Scotland and Education Scotland with the support of the Opening Educational Practices in Scotland Project.

Select here to download the Making Sense Programme Final Report.

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This module supports the requirement for teachers in Scotland to maintain the General Teaching Council Scotland’s (GTCS) professional standards to which Professional Values and Personal Commitment are central.

All three modules in this collection link with the GTCS Standards 2021 Framework and focus on the areas identified below to support the professional growth of teachers in Scotland.

  1. Being a Teacher in Scotland
  2. Professional Knowledge and Understanding
  3. Professional Skills and Abilities
  • 3.1 Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • 3.2 The Learning Context
  • 3.3 Professional Learning

Select here for further information on the General Teaching Council Scotland’s professional learning.

The national model of professional learning

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This module also follows the National Model of Professional Learning developed by Education Scotland. This underlines that professional learning should challenge and develop thinking, knowledge, skills and understanding and should be underpinned by developing skills of enquiry and criticality.

The national model also emphasises that professional learning needs to be interactive, reflective and involve learning with and from others. It is important when considering how to study the module that the above principles are taken into consideration.

Further information on the national model of professional learning is available on the National Improvement Hub.

Learning outcomes

After studying this introductory module and participating in the tasks, you will have 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

This first module provides you with a basic introduction to dyslexia and inclusive practice. It is split into seven sections, which you can access via the navigation panel on the left hand side of each page.

This module includes a reflective log, which can be used to support the General Teaching Council for Scotland’s requirement to maintain professional standards. The activities in the module can be completed on your own but you can also use them to support group work with colleagues.

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 have gained a score of at least 60% 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.

Introduction

Teachers do not have to know everything about dyslexia; however, they do need to know where to go for information, guidance and support. This introductory module aims to provide staff from Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings, schools and local authorities with an awareness of what dyslexia is, its impact and how it can be supported within an inclusive school community. It may also be of interest if you work in the voluntary sector or simply have an interest in dyslexia and inclusive practice.

The module provides opportunities to reflect on your own practice and it will help support and direct your future professional development needs. Studying the module and logging your reflections can contribute towards your portfolio of evidence for the General Teaching Council for Scotland Professional update.

The Scottish Government and Education Scotland, working with partners on the Making Sense Programme, have supported the development of free professional learning resources, some of which are highlighted in Section 6. These resources have been developed to provide up-to-date practical advice, guidance and support with the understanding of dyslexia and inclusive practice. They are aimed at staff from Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings, schools and local authorities and they provide an awareness of:

  • What dyslexia is
  • Its impact
  • How dyslexia can be supported within an inclusive school community
  • How to reflect on and evaluate inclusive practice which supports all learners, including those with dyslexia

How you can study this module

This module can be studied sequentially or the material can be used as a reference guide with sections explored in any order. If studied as a module, the core content should take around 3 hours to work through. Section 1 is the longest section and will take about half the total study time.

You can study at your own pace. However, as you work through the module, think not only about your role but also that of other partners and colleagues you work with. You might find it helpful to form an informal study group with colleagues and use some of the activities as a basis for group discussion.

A Reflective Log is available to download for you to evidence your professional enquiry and learning. The Reflective Log can also be used for collegiate discussions and will support Annual Reviews, GTCS Professional Update and contribute to applications for GTCS Professional Recognition.

Downloadable files within this module.

Throughout this module there are files which you need download to help you engage with the activities. Others have been included to support further professional knowledge and understanding of dyslexia and inclusive practice.

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The above image of a white arrow pointing down and the text ‘You will need to download this file’ lets you know when you must download the file to engage in the activities.

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The above image of a grey book lets you know when the download or link is for you to engage in further reading if you wish to.

We have also provided downloadable alternative formats of the course. You can find these on the first page of each section.

If you work through all of the content in this module, tackle the formative quizzes and pass the end-of-module quiz you will be awarded a digital badge to recognise your learning.

Badge information

What is a badged course?

Badges are a means of digitally recognising certain skills and achievements acquired through informal study. They are entirely optional. They do not carry any formal credit as they are not subject to the same rigour as formal assessment, nor are they proof that you have studied the full unit or course. They are a useful means of demonstrating participation and recognising informal learning.

If you'd like to learn more about badges, you will find more information on the following websites:

  • Open Badges – this information is provided by IMS Global, the organisation responsible for the open badge standards.
  • Digital Badges – this information is provided by HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory), a global community working to transform how we learn, particularly making use of technology.

Gaining your badge

To gain the digital badge for this module, you will need to:

  1. Complete the short quizzes that you will find at the end of sections 1 and 5 of the module. These section quizzes are formative. They are really helpful in consolidating your learning but there is no pass mark.
  2. Complete the end-of-module quiz and achieve at least 60%.

When you have successfully achieved the completion criteria you will receive your badge for the module. You will receive an email notification that your badge has been awarded and it will appear in the ‘My Badges’ area in your profile. Please note it can take up to 24 hours for a badge to be issued.

Your badge demonstrates that you have achieved the learning outcomes for the module. These outcomes are listed at the start of each section.

The digital badge does not represent a formal credit or award, but rather it demonstrates successful participation in informal learning activity.

Sharing your badge

Badges awarded within OpenLearn Create can be shared via social media such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn and to a badge backpack such as Badgr.

Accessing your badge

From within An introduction to dyslexia and inclusive practice module:

  • Go to ‘My Profile’ and click on ‘Achievements’. You will see the badge alongside the course title.
  • To view the details of the badge, to download it, or to add it to a badge backpack, click on the badge and you will be taken to the Badge Information page.

You can either download this page to your computer or add the badge to your badge Backpack.

Acknowledgements

The development of this module was informed and supported by:

Except for third party materials and otherwise stated in the acknowledgements section, this content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence.

1. Scottish Education

In this section we look at:

  • 1.1. The Scottish context for dyslexia and inclusive practice
  • 1.2. What is an inclusive curriculum?

Activity 1

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You will need to download the Inclusive Classroom Reflective Log.

Select here  to download this file.

On page 1 in your Reflective Log you should start by:

  1. Using a scale of 1 – 5 (1 being poor and 5 being very knowledgeable), rate your knowledge and understanding of dyslexia and inclusive practice.
  2. Consider and record what you hope to achieve in studying this module.
  3. Complete the template for the self-evaluation wheel.

How you use the Reflective Log is up to you. You can save it and work with it online or print it off and keep it up to date in hard copy.

Throughout the module you will be prompted to record your responses to activities and your reflection. The log provides a record of your learning that you can use for professional update.

1.1. The Scottish context for dyslexia and inclusive practice

As we consider the educational provision for children and young people with dyslexia in Scotland, it is important to acknowledge and consider the national agenda, legislative and guidance context that local authorities, educational practitioners and health care professionals work within. Scotland’s education system is rights based, inclusive, and designed to make sure that every child and young person is entitled to support to enable them to gain as much as possible from the opportunities that their education can provide.

Scotland’s ‘child-centred needs led’ education system has been designed to ensure that the provision of support for a child or young person is not dependent upon them receiving a formal label or identification of need such as autism, dyslexia or a physical disability.

The Scottish vision for inclusive education, which applies to all settings and for all children and young people, is set out below:

'Inclusive education in Scotland starts from the belief that education is a human right and the foundation for a more just society. An inclusive approach which recognises diversity and holds the ambition that all children and young people are enabled to achieve to their fullest potential is the cornerstone to achieve equity and excellence in education for all of our children and young people.'

Presumption to provide education in a mainstream setting: guidance. The Scottish Government 2019

Children’s rights and entitlements are fundamental to Scotland’s approaches to inclusive education. It is supported by the legislative framework and key policy drivers including the Getting it right for every child approach (often referred to as GIRFEC), Curriculum for Excellence and the Framework for Professional Standards for teachers. These are underpinned by a set of values aligned to social justice and commitment to inclusive education. This means that inclusive education should be at the heart of all areas of educational planning.

Figure 2 provides you with an overview of the Scottish education and equality context.

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Figure 2 Scottish context – Overview

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).

Our legislation ensures rights and entitlements for children and young people to education, support and wellbeing. There is a range of legislation and educational policies that places duties and expectations on schools and local authorities to ensure that they:

  • Promote a child centred approach to encourage every child to reach their ‘fullest potential’
  • Deliver an inclusive education
  • Support learners to achieve to the best of their ability
  • Do not discriminate against those with protected characteristics
  • Provide assessments when requested.

The legislation and policy also provide the framework for support and planning. This is called the Staged Level of Intervention and you will explore this in Section 4 Support, assessment and planning.

Figure 3 below provides a more detailed overview of the national legislation and policy that underpins the Scottish educational context of inclusion and equality. It is not intended as an exhaustive list of all Scottish policies which refer to inclusion but gives a broad overview of some of the key legislation and policy documents.

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Figure 3 The Scottish context – detailed
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Select here  to download a copy of this image.

Recent policies and legislation

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Select here to download the summary of the Scottish Educational Legislative and Policy Framework which provides an overview of the most recent legislation and policies.

The Making Sense Review

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 identified 5 interconnecting recommendations for local authorities and schools, all of which combine to improve the outcomes for learners with dyslexia:

  1. Access to up-to-date practical advice and guidance on dyslexia
  2. Access to wide a range of high-quality career-long professional opportunities at school, local and national level
  3. Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and postgraduate awards should give high priority to developing knowledge and skills in relation to dyslexia
  4. Action to improve the quality of educational outcomes for children and young people with dyslexia
  5. Availability and use of reliable information on children and young people’s needs, development and achievement should be improved.

1.2. What is an inclusive curriculum?

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Section 1.1. explains that the Scottish education system is designed to support all learners and is supported by an inclusive legislative and policy framework. Central to curriculum design in Scotland is ‘Curriculum for Excellence’.

“Curriculum for Excellence is an inclusive curriculum from 3 to 18 wherever learning is taking place”.

The Scottish curriculum is defined as the totality of all that is planned for children and young people from early learning and childcare, through school and beyond. That totality can be planned for and experienced by learners across four contexts:

  • Curriculum areas and subjects
  • Interdisciplinary learning
  • Ethos and life of the school
  • Opportunities for personal achievement.

Inclusion is about 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.
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Select here for further information on Curriculum for Excellence and the Refreshed narrative.

Activity 2

Click on the answer below that provides a definition of an inclusive curriculum. (Only one answer applies)

a. 

Subjects within a school’s curriculum are available to all learners - if they can meet the criteria, age and cognitive ability.


b. 

The curriculum is defined by the subjects taught.


c. 

The curriculum includes all of the experiences that are planned for children and young people through their education. It is not specific to subject areas but applies to activities that take place across the school.


d. 

Pupils do not have an entitlement to engage with all aspects of the curriculum.


The correct answer is c.

c. 


Discussion

If your choice of answer was not correct, go back and consider section 1.

To be an inclusive curriculum, communication within the school community and the learning and teaching resources need to be accessible for all learners. This includes the format choice e.g. use of IT and also how the resources are differentiated to enable all learners to access them as independently as possible.

2. Understanding dyslexia

In this section we look at:

2.2. What is dyslexia?

2.2. Dyslexia and neurodiversity

2.3. How do we know dyslexia exists?

2.4. Dyslexia and inclusive practice

2.5. The co-occurrence of dyslexia with other areas of additional support

2.6. The impact of dyslexia

2.7. Breaking the myths

2.1. What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a Specific Learning Difficulty and when the impact of dyslexia on an individual is significant on their daily life it is a recognised disability under the Equality Act 2010.

Scottish Government definition of dyslexia, 2009

The following working definition of dyslexia has been developed and agreed by the Scottish Government, Dyslexia Scotland and the Cross-Party Group on Dyslexia in the Scottish Parliament. The aim of this particular definition is to provide a description of the range of indicators and characteristics of dyslexia as helpful guidance for educational practitioners, learners, parents/carers and others.

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Figure 4 Pictorial definition of dyslexia

Scottish Working Definition

Dyslexia can be described as a continuum of difficulties in learning to read, write and/or spell, which persist despite the provision of appropriate learning opportunities. These difficulties often do not reflect an individual's cognitive abilities and may not be typical of performance in other areas.

The impact of dyslexia as a barrier to learning varies in degree according to the learning and teaching environment, as there are often associated difficulties such as:

  • auditory and/or visual processing of language-based information
  • phonological awareness
  • oral language skills and reading fluency
  • short-term and working memory
  • sequencing and directionality
  • number skills
  • organisational ability.

Motor skills and co-ordination may also be affected.

Dyslexia exists in all cultures and across the range of abilities and socio-economic backgrounds. It is a hereditary, life-long, neurodevelopmentalcondition. Unidentified, dyslexia is likely to result in low self-esteem, high stress, atypical behaviour, and low achievement.

Learners with dyslexia will benefit from early identification, appropriate intervention and targeted effective teaching, enabling them to become successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens.

2.2. Dyslexia and neurodiversity

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Figure 5 Neurodiversity

Neurodiversity is a relatively new term, thought to have been coined in the 1990s by Judy Singer (an autism activist). It was originally used by the autistic community, who were keen to move away from the medical model and dispel the belief that autism is something to be treated and cured rather than an important and valuable part of human diversity.

The idea of neurodiversity has now been embraced by many other groups who use the term as a means of empowerment and to promote the positive qualities possessed by those with a neurological difference. It encourages people to view neurological differences such as autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia as natural and normal variations of the human genome. Furthermore, it encourages them to reject the culturally entrenched negativity that has typically surrounded those that live, learn and view the world differently.

Most people are neurotypical, meaning that the brain functions and processes information in the way society expects. However, it is estimated that around 1 in 7 people (more than 15% of people in the UK) are neurodivergent, meaning that the brain functions, learns and processes information differently.

2.3. How do we know dyslexia exists?

Over the past 100 years there has been a great deal of debate regarding dyslexia and questions have been raised querying whether it is ‘real’ and whether it can be scientifically proven to exist.

Scientific advances such as the development of specialised scanning equipment, including Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), which can produce detailed images of the inside of the brain, have helped confirm that dyslexia does indeed exist.

This specialised scanning has enabled researchers to study dyslexic children and adults undertaking tasks, such as reading, and compare them with individuals who are not dyslexic. The results clearly show differences between how the brains processes information. As highlighted earlier, dyslexia is not linked to cognitive ability and we need to ensure that learners with dyslexia and other additional support needs have equitable opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and ability. This is why adjustments such as extra time, digital exams/course work and text recognition software are required to provide a level playing field.

2.4. The co-occurrence of dyslexia with other areas of additional support

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Figure 6 Neurodiversity Overview

The Scottish working definition of dyslexia is broad and does not only impact on the acquisition of literacy skills. The different characteristics involved with dyslexia are also found in a wide range of learner profiles and areas of additional support.

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Figure 7 ASN correlation

Ensuring that your curriculum is accessible and inclusive will support more pupils than just those who are dyslexic.

All learners − with and without additional support needs − are effectively supported using inclusive learning and teaching pedagogy based on inclusive dyslexia-friendly approaches.

2.5. Dyslexia and inclusive practice

As highlighted in section 2.1, Scotland’s education system is an inclusive one, which is supported by legislation and educational policy. There are positive benefits to be gained from developing an inclusive approach both in terms of putting the child/young person at the centre of education and also in terms of time management and resourcing.

It is increasingly appreciated that the approaches which support learners with dyslexia also support a wide range of learners and that these approaches can also help you to reduce your planning and workload. Understanding this connection and including these dyslexia-friendly approaches in daily classroom management and practice helps establish and promote an inclusive approach which in turn enables school communities to better meet the needs of all their learners.

Improving inclusive practice and ensuring that barriers are removed will enable dyslexic learners to:

  • Participate fully with the school curriculum 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.

2.6. The impact of dyslexia

Dyslexia can have positive and negative impacts on children, young people, parents/carers and school staff. In both children and adults, when dyslexia is unidentified or unsupported the negative impact can be high.

Activity 3 Reflective Log

Think about your own experience of working with learners with dyslexia.

This is the list of factors associated with dyslexia that we identified as having an impact on individuals.

CreativitySpatial awarenessFrustration
De-motivationSocial skillsResilience
Relationship difficultiesLower achievement and attainmentIsolation
Low self-esteemRidiculeMental health
Attention to detailProblem solvingDepression
Fewer qualificationsDeterminationStress
AngerFeeling different 

In your Reflective Log note down some of the factors that have a positive impact and some which are negative.

Click 'Discussion' to see what we thought. Do note that these factors are contextual and there is no right or wrong answer.

Discussion
Positive impactNegative impactPositive and negative impact
CreativityFrustrationSocial skills
Spatial awarenessAnger
Verbal skillsIsolation
Holistic thinkingLow self-esteem
Attention to detailRidiculed
Problem solvingMental health issues
Practical tasks Depression
DeterminationFewer qualifications
ResilienceStress
Feeling different
De-motivation
Relationship difficulties
Anxiety
Perfectionist
Lower achievement and attainment outcomes

Every child is different and dyslexia will affect them in different ways. It is important to understand that there are both positive and negative aspects and that children and young people may need support to recognise and appreciate their strengths. Their strengths can often be key factors in helping them overcome the barriers they experience.

Positive aspects of dyslexia

There can be positive things about dyslexia which might include:

  • Can be very creative and enjoy practical tasks

  • Can have strong visual thinking skills e.g. seeing and thinking in 3D, visualising a structure from plans

  • Can have good verbal skills and good social interaction and like being with people

  • Can be good at problem solving, thinking outside the box, seeing the whole picture.

Negative aspects of dyslexia

The negative impact of dyslexia can manifest in a variety of ways:

  • 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.
  • Dyslexia can also impact on parents, families and carers who become distressed that their dependents cannot get the support they need. This applies to both children and adults.

2.7. Breaking the myths

Dyslexia is often misunderstood and over the years a number of misconceptions have circulated.

Activity 4

Tick which of the following statements you think are true:

a. 

Dyslexia is all about reading and spelling difficulties


b. 

The incidence of dyslexia is higher amongst males


c. 

Not many people are dyslexic


d. 

Only ‘clever’ people have dyslexia


e. 

Dyslexia is a sign of low intelligence


f. 

Dyslexia cannot be a disability


g. 

Specialist support teachers are the only teachers who should provide appropriate support, planning and monitoring of dyslexic learners.


No correct answers.
Discussion

1. Myth - Dyslexia is all about reading and spelling difficulties

Fact - Dyslexia does not only impact on literacy – reading, writing and spelling. The working definition highlights the other characteristics shown below which can also impact on:

auditory processing of language-based information

oral language skills

short-term and working memory

sequencing and directionality

number skills

organisational ability

2. Myth - The incidence of dyslexia is higher amongst males

Fact - Previously it was a widely-held belief that dyslexia affects boys more than girls. This is most likely due to the differences in coping strategies employed by each gender. Current consensus supports the belief that males and females are equally affected; although this remains an area of debate.

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Figure 8 4−10% of the population

3. Myth - Not many people are dyslexic

Fact - There is consensus that between 4 – 10% of the population are dyslexic - although not all will have a formal identification of dyslexia and this remains an area of debate. It is estimated that one person in ten is dyslexic in Scotland (approx. 550,000), with 1 in 4 of those 10 (2.5%) classed as severely dyslexic.

4. Myth - Only ‘clever’ people have dyslexia.

Fact - Dyslexia does not only occur in ‘clever’ people. Historically it was believed that dyslexia was only identifiable when the learner had a ‘jagged profile’ or a noticeable gap between what the learner knew and could speak about compared to what they could demonstrate by reading and writing. However, consensus now holds that dyslexia exists across all ability levels. The current Scottish definition of dyslexia recognises many aspects indicative of dyslexia aside from simply language processing.

5. Myth - Dyslexia is a sign of low intelligence

Fact - As with myth 4, dyslexia is not a sign of low intelligence and does not only occur in ‘clever’ people. Historically it was believed that dyslexia was only identifiable when the learner had a ‘jagged profile’ or a noticeable gap between what they knew and could speak about compared to what they could demonstrate by reading and writing. However, consensus now holds that dyslexia exists across all ability levels. The current Scottish definition of dyslexia recognises many aspects indicative of dyslexia aside from simply language processing.

6. Myth - Dyslexia cannot be a disability

Fact – The Equality Act 2010 recognises dyslexia as a disability when the impact on the individual is significant/severe.

7. Myth – Specialist support teachers are the only teachers who should provide appropriate support, planning and monitoring of dyslexic learners.

Fact −All teachers have the skills and abilities to recognise early signs of dyslexia in children at all stages, and take appropriate action in response, although they may benefit from some support to develop these skills. Pupil support begins with the class teacher; however this does not mean that class teachers are responsible for the formal identification of dyslexia. It means they play an important role in the initial stages and the continuing monitoring and assessment of learning – as they do for all their pupils. It is the responsibility of all who work with children to respond appropriately to their needs.

Recognising early signs of difficulties and adapting learning and teaching approaches are a regular part of the daily routine for teachers supporting all children in an education environment. For those who may have additional learning needs such as those arising from dyslexia, it is important that these needs are met in the best possible way by accurate and timely identification.

Further information to support literacy difficulties and dyslexia can be accessed on the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit and Dyslexia Scotland’s website.

If your answers were not all correct you may wish to refer back to the Scottish definition of dyslexia at the start of this section.

3. Supporting learners and families

In this section we look at:

3.1. Effective communication

3.2. Appropriate support approaches

3.3. Supporting literacy

3.4. Support staff and generic approaches

3.5. Improving support for children and young people with dyslexia

3.6. Transitions

3.1. Effective communication

1. Parents and carers, 2. learners, 3. staff.
Figure 9 Effective Communication

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 and maintaining positive relationships.

All partners need to feel that they are included and that there is transparent and regular communication. This could be done via phone calls, emails and letters – please ensure that the communication method used is appropriate for the family. Dyslexia can be hereditary and there may be situations where the parents /carers also have literacy difficulties. A regular short message to a parent about progress can be extremely effective in avoiding a situation escalating negatively.

It is important that:

  • Effective consultation involves the parents/carers and the child or young person who is entitled to participate
  • Parents and carers feel that they are being listened to and their views are valued
  • Parents and carers are informed about all the support their child receives. This will reduce perceptions that no supports are in place, as often they are discreet and the learner may not be fully aware of the additional support they are receiving
  • Parents and carers are provided with information on what assessment and support means within the ‘needs led’ Scottish educational context - the ‘label’ of dyslexia is not in itself required in order for resources or support to be made available for learners. Nevertheless, the label of dyslexia can be very valuable to the learner and their family in terms of the learner’s sense of self and understanding from others.
  • Local authority staged levels of intervention are followed and information on the process is made available to the parents and carers.
  • Sources of advice and support are shared: for example Enquire and Dyslexia Scotland.

Activity 5 Reflective Log

Think about the role of communication in supporting a person with dyslexia. Who are the partners? How do you communicate with them?

  1. Write approximately 200 words in your Reflective Log on your understanding of the importance of effective communication and identify some of the challenges in discussing dyslexia.
  2. Watch the clip which highlights the importance of effective communication.
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Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
  • a. In your Reflective Log, note the key themes and recommendations the presenter highlights.
  • b. Consider this information in relation to your own practice and note areas for improvement.

3.2. Appropriate support approaches

There is a range of supports and approaches that can help learners with dyslexia.

Differentiation and the curriculum

The impact of dyslexia as a barrier to learning varies in degree according to the learning and teaching environment.

Differentiation is defined by the Training and Development Agency for Schools as:

‘The process by which differences between learners are accommodated so that all students in a group have the best possible chance of learning.’

Differentiation has become a key skill and requirement for all teachers to ensure the needs of all their learners are met. Creating resources, which are accessible for dyslexic learners will also support a wide range of learners. There are several areas to consider when planning effective and meaningful differentiation as highlighted in Figure 8.

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Figure 10 Differentiation

Activity 6 Reflective Log

Think about the curriculum that you teach. What do you see as your main challenges in differentiating the curriculum? Consider the needs of your pupils and make a note in your log of how well you meet their needs at present and where you would like to make improvements.

Responsibility for All

'Curriculum for Excellence', states that all teachers have responsibility for literacy, numeracy and wellbeing and it is helpful for you to understand that dyslexia can have an impact on all three of these areas.

Activity 7 Reflective Log

Dyslexic learners may experience difficulties in relation to literacy, numeracy and wellbeing. In your Reflective Log make a list of some of these difficulties, then think about how they connect with each other and how they relate to the curricular areas or subjects you teach.

The table below highlights some common areas of difficulty which individuals with dyslexia can experience and which will affect their language and numeracy development and consequently their wellbeing. You will notice these areas are all included within the Scottish working definition of dyslexia.

Common areas of difficulty

LiteracyNumeracyWellbeing
Phonological awarenessShort-term memoryShort-term memory
Short-term memoryWorking memoryWorking memory
Working memoryNaming and labellingNaming and labelling
Naming and labellingProcessing speedOrganisation
Processing speedOrganisation 
OrganisationAutomaticity 
Automaticity  

Approaches which support the development of early literacy skills can be very suitable for learners with literacy difficulties, dyslexia, language delay and English as an additional language. Using resources such as the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit and information on the Education Scotland National Improvement Hub can help you support the language development needs of children and young people in your classes in nursery, primary and secondary settings.

Activity 8 Reflective Log

The table below provides some helpful approaches used by teachers in a wide range of schools.

Consider which approaches you use or could use to support pupils in your class who experience literacy difficulties and dyslexia.

Use the copy of this table in your Reflective Log to explore which approaches you currently use or could include, and which you cannot use and why.

Support Classroom practice
Currently used or could include Cannot useReason
Seating and grouping – ensure everyone can see the white board and you can see them   
Explain and present information many times in various ways (pictures, flow charts, diagrams)   
Ensure thinking/processing time is allowed    
Provide information, desk-top mats/jotter inserts - word banks, prompts and personal targets   
Use information technology (IT) – for reading and writing    
Encourage the use of books in audio/digital format to support access to texts   
Match reading resources to reading ability, ensuring that it is age appropriate   
Highlight the main points in text to support comprehension, prediction and recall    
Use and encourage multi-sensory approaches    
Limit the amount of reading/copying from the board. Give copies of notes - electronic versions and examples    
Accept alternatives to writing    
Limit writing demands    
Ensure extra time is provided   
Provide writing frames/story skeletons    
Use and help pupils understand how to use mind maps, spider webs, bullet points    
Specify what will be marked    
Minimise the number of errors you highlight – perhaps only one of each type. Suggest how to avoid these in the future    
Use directed praise    

3.3. Supporting literacy

Understanding how to support literacy skills is as important in a secondary school setting as it is in nursery and primary settings. There is a range of resources available to support the development of literacy, which are available nationally and within local authorities.

The Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit working group have developed the Literacy Circles which help teachers’ gain an understanding of how literacy skills have developed for the child or young person they are working with. The Circles can be used in primary and secondary sectors and may also be beneficial for children and young people for whom English is not their first language, as well as for adults.

The Circles provide:

  • Descriptions of the key areas involved in the acquisition of reading skills
  • A tool to identify areas of difficulty
  • Approaches and strategies for each key area.
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Figure 11 Reading circle
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Figure 12 Writing circle

The Circles include a practical planning/evaluation tool to record discussions with colleagues, staff and, where appropriate, the learner. It can highlight strengths and difficulties and offer guidance on planning the next steps appropriately, bearing in mind that some of the identified strengths could be used to support areas of difficulty.

Downloads of the summary Circles with the planning page at the end of each file are available here:

Select here  to download the PDF Reading Circle

Select here to download the PDF Writing Circle

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.

Formative quiz 1

3.4. Improving support for children and young people with dyslexia

There are a range of free resources and approaches available that improve the educational experiences and outcomes for children and young people who have additional support needs. However, it is important to remember the high value that parents, carers and learners place on staff who are able to demonstrate empathy and an understanding of support needs and the positive impact this has.

Activity 9 Reflective Log

Reflect on what you do well and where you could improve in relation to detecting and supporting dyslexia in your class, school and local authority. You might like to use the table shown below and printed in your Reflective Log; or use a mind map or other means of taking notes.

For example

What I do well

I ensure that I liaise with support colleagues in order to I have up-to-date information on my pupils who have ASN.

Once you have identified these issues think about how you could improve what you do.

What needs to improve?

I need to evaluate my learning and teaching resources to ensure they are accessible.

How to improve?

I will access the information on CALL Scotland’s website to support my professional development.

 In my classIn our school communityIn our local authority
What I /we do well   
What needs to improve   
How to improve   

3.5. Transitions

Transition is not a single event, such as leaving school, but a process that unfolds over many years and involves significant emotional, physical, intellectual and physiological changes.

Whatever the form of change and transition, all children and young people are entitled to support to enable them to gain as much as possible from the opportunities that Curriculum for Excellence can provide, as well as support in moving into positive and sustained destinations beyond school.

Transitions also affect the family or those who care for the child or young person. There are numerous types of transition that occur throughout the day, the school term, the year and across the lifespan as highlighted in Figure 11.

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Figure 13 Macro and Micro Transitions

The extent of any impact from transitions will vary considerably for every learner. This may be due to the levels of understanding, planning and supports in place as well as the learner’s profile of strengths, skills and areas of difficulty.

4. Support, assessment and planning

In this section you will explore the following areas:

4.1. How is dyslexia identified

4.2. Who is involved in identifying dyslexia?

4.3. Planning and monitoring

4.1. How is dyslexia identified?

Dyslexia and assessment

Within the inclusive ‘needs led’ Scottish educational context - the ‘label’ of dyslexia is not in itself required in order for resources or support to be made available for learners. However, it is equally important to understand that the label of dyslexia can be very valuable to the learner and their family in terms of the learner’s sense of self and gaining understanding from others.

The identification of dyslexia in local authority schools across Scotland takes place within individual authorities’ staged levels of intervention processes. Section 1 of this module provides an overview of the Staged Levels of Intervention. Information on this process in each local authority should be publicly available on their website.

The assessment of dyslexia in children and young people should be:

  • A process rather than an end product. The information provided during the assessment process should support the learner’s next steps for learning.
  • A holistic and collaborative process that takes place over a period of time, drawing on a range of observational and assessment methods. This approach reflects the ‘identification pathway’ within the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit shown below.

The identification process for dyslexia can include the following:

  • Observations –nursery/school and information from home
  • Consultation with the pupil, staff and family
  • Examples of free writing
  • Reading comprehension levels
  • Chronological reading and spelling – (if appropriate)
  • Assessment of phonological awareness and processing skills
  • Use of appropriate assessments – motor skills, organisation, visual perceptions.

A single standardised assessment or a screener on its own is not considered an appropriate process to identify dyslexia. While the information can be helpful it must be recognised that it reflects a snapshot in time and that it cannot provide the in-depth analysis and quality of a learner centred holistic assessment which involves school staff, partners, the family and importantly the learner themselves.  Assessment acknowledges that children and young people develop as a result of an interaction between themselves and their environment.

Activity 10

Watch the short animation on the “Dyslexia Identification Pathway”.

Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
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Figure 14 Dyslexia Identification Pathway
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Below are some of the files available for you to download. More resources are available on the Toolkit’s Forms and Templates page

Identification pathway for dyslexia

Establishing Needs Form 1

Establishing Needs Form 2

What to look for check-list: First and Second CfE level. (Other checklists are available from Early to Senior levels).

Scottish Dyslexia Planning Tool

Activity 11 Reflective Log

Do you know where to locate your local authority's information on identifying dyslexia?

If not, find the policy through searching online or by talking to colleagues.

Record your findings in the Reflective Log.

4.2. Who is involved in identifying dyslexia?

All those involved in education have the skills and abilities to recognise early signs of dyslexia in children at all stages and take appropriate action in response. In Scotland pupil support begins with the class teacher. However, this does not mean that class teachers are responsible for the formal identification of dyslexia. It means they play an important role in the initial stages and the continuing monitoring and assessment of learning – as they do for all their pupils.

Everyone who works with children and young people has a responsibility to respond appropriately to their needs. Recognising early signs of difficulties and adapting learning and teaching approaches are a regular part of the daily routine for teachers supporting all children in an educational environment. For those who may have additional learning needs such as those arising from dyslexia, it is important that these needs are met in the best possible way by accurate and timely identification.

The identification of dyslexia is a collaborative process. A range of professionals may be involved in the identification process over a period of time. Working collaboratively will support the identification and the needs of the child/young person. The participation and views of the parents, carers and child or young person are very important. Parents, carers or someone else involved with the family (e.g. social worker, health visitor) may have raised concerns with the teacher in the first instance.

Involvement of Educational Psychologists and health colleagues will vary depending on the needs of the learner. In Scottish schools Educational Psychologists are not required to assess and identify dyslexia, but they may provide a consultative role and learners will not automatically require or access allied health services such as speech and language.

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Figure 15 Collaborative Partnerships

4.3. Planning and monitoring

Curriculum level planning and monitoring considerations

Intervention at all levels is managed in close collaboration with parents, allied health professionals (if there are signs that this is warranted) and others who may be able to give support either directly or indirectly. Where a collaborative plan of intervention requires to be developed, all parties involved may require meeting with parents to ensure a common strategy for supporting the child. A record of these meetings should be recorded and retained with the paperwork for the Staged process of assessment and intervention.

As highlighted in Section 4.1 the identification of dyslexia is not the end of the process.  The assessment of dyslexia in children and young people is a process rather than an end-product. The information provided in the assessment should support the planning for the learner’s next steps. This will require monitoring due to the changes and challenges which will occur as the child grows and the curriculum develops.  For example, the difficulties experienced in P6 may not be exactly the same in S3 – they may be harder or easier and other challenges may replace them.

Staged levels of intervention

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Figure 16 Staged levels of interventions

In Scotland, the staged intervention is used as a means of identification, assessment, planning, recording and reviewing to meet the learning needs of children and young people. Staged intervention:

  • Provides a solution-focused approach to meeting needs at the earliest opportunity and with the least intrusive level of intervention.
  • Involves the child, parents/carers, school staff and, at some levels, other professionals, all working in partnership to get it right for every child.

Staged intervention is designed to be flexible and allows for movement between stages depending on progress. There are variations between local authorities regarding the number of stages within their process.

Activity 12

Consider what Universal and Targeted support mean to your practice. Select the headings below for further information and some examples.

Universal support

Discussion

Universal support starts with the ethos, climate and relationships within every learning environment. All practitioners have a responsibility to take a child-centred approach that promotes and supports wellbeing, inclusion equality and fairness. The entitlement to universal support for all children and young people is provided from within the existing pre-school and school settings.

An environment that is caring, inclusive, fair and focused on delivering learning to meet individual needs will encourage all children and young people to strive to meet their learning potential. Every child and young person is entitled to support to enable them to gain as much as possible from the opportunities that Curriculum for Excellence can provide. When a child or young person may require some additional support, this is initially the responsibility of the classroom teacher. The majority of children and young people’s needs are met through universal support.

Some examples of universal support are below. This list is not exhaustive.

  • Personalised learning plans
  • Literacy, numeracy or health and wellbeing support
  • Enhanced transition - Macro and Micro
  • Use of ICT e.g. digital learning and teaching resources such as digital course material and SQA exams
  • Quiet spaces
  • Visual time-tables and supports

Targeted support

Discussion

Children and young people can benefit from additional or targeted support, tailored to their individual circumstances. This could be at any point on their learning journey or throughout the journey.

Targeted support is any focused support that children or young people may require for short or longer periods of time to help them overcome barriers to learning or to ensure progress in learning.

Targeted support is usually, but not exclusively, co-ordinated and provided by staff with additional training and expertise through a staged intervention process. This may be by staff other than the class teacher and outwith the pre-school or school setting but within education services.

Some examples of targeted support are below. This list is not exhaustive:

  • Higher attaining children (ensuring progression)
  • Bereavement peer support group
  • Input from Allied Health Professionals e.g. Speech and Language Therapist
  • Trauma informed interventions designed for a care experienced child/young person
  • Complex needs e.g. sessions in a sensory room

5. Professional learning

In this section you will explore:

5.1. Professional learning to support dyslexia and inclusive practice.

5.1. Professional learning to support dyslexia and inclusive practice

A range of professional activities can contribute towards professional learning, for example:

  • Professional reading and enquiry
  • Meetings with colleagues
  • Attending events
  • Online courses
  • Short courses
  • Extended courses and award-bearing courses

In this section, we explore some of the free resources and information available to support Professional Learning.

The Scottish Government and Education Scotland, working with partners on the Making Sense Programme, have supported the development of free professional learning resources, some of which are highlighted below. These free resources have been developed to provide up-to-date practical advice and guidance and to support the understanding of dyslexia and inclusive practice. Aimed at staff from Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings, schools and local authorities, they provide an awareness of:

  • What dyslexia is
  • Its impact
  • How dyslexia can be supported within an inclusive school community
  • How to reflect on and evaluate inclusive practice which supports all learners, including those with dyslexia
  • The Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit – a free online resource funded by the Scottish Government. Developed to support educational professionals it provides information on dyslexia, literacy difficulties and inclusive practice.


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The Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit

The Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit is a free online resource designed for educational professionals in early years and childcare settings, schools and local authorities to provide information and guidance on supporting learners with dyslexia. The various sections can support staff to examine their own knowledge and understanding of dyslexia and to use the information to improve their practice and to develop appropriate identification pathways and support approaches. The Toolkit is maintained by a working group and managed by Dyslexia Scotland.

Dyslexia Scotland

Dyslexia Scotland is a national charity that aims to enable people with dyslexia to reach their potential in education, employment and life. It exists to support people with dyslexia as well as those who support them. Educators can make use of Dyslexia Scotland’s services, including: their Helpline, websites and social media, publications, membership, Branch events across Scotland, Education conference and other events, dyslexia awareness training and advice.

CALL Scotland

CALL provides information and advice on technological aids for communication and learning to professionals, carers and disabled people themselves. They support children and young people across Scotland to overcome disability and barriers to learning.

Below are some of the CALL websites which will provide you with very helpful information to support your own professional practice and understanding of how to provide an accessible curriculum for your pupils.

Books for All

Digital Exams

Free Scottish digital voices

The Scottish Government and Education Scotland

In recent years the Scottish Government and Education Scotland have supported dyslexia reviews and a range of positive initiatives for school and local authority staff to help them support children and young people with dyslexia to achieve parity of academic attainment and wellbeing with their peers.

Scottish Government website

Education Scotland

Activity 13 Reflective Log

Take a few minutes to review the information above - you may choose to access the highlighted websites. Use your Reflective log to plan how to make use of these resources.

Now try the formative quiz 2 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.

Formative quiz 2

6. Summary and Next Steps

By now you should have an awareness of:

  • What dyslexia is and its impact
  • Dyslexia and the connection with inclusive practice.
  • The importance of effective communication with parents
  • How dyslexia is identified
  • The education context and your role
  • Where to access information and practical strategies

What next?

Following the completion of this introductory module, further reflective study on dyslexia and inclusive practice could translate into:

  • Engaging in on-going enquiry into relevant evidence and research into inclusive practice, language development, literacy and dyslexia
  • Keeping a professional learning journal including self-reflection on practice
  • Ensuring the child’s views are listened to and valued
  • Ensuring good communication with the parent/carer in the educational planning and identification process
  • Using video to capture and analyse learning and teaching
  • Asking colleagues to observe and feed back on practice
  • Devising questionnaires and other research methods to capture learners’ views on practice.

Activity 14 Reflective Log

For the final entry in your Reflective Log for this module, consider:

‘How will the completion of this module impact on your professional practice?’

For example:

This module will support evidence in my learning required for the GTC professional update.

This module will help me gain an understanding of dyslexia and the value of inclusive practice.

You can now take the End of module quiz.

End of module quiz

Reviewing your work

Congratulations – now that you have completed all sections and the end of section quizzes you have reached the end of this module. You may have worked through this module in a number of different ways – perhaps alone, or with a colleague or group of colleagues and hopefully you will have engaged with the reflective learning log to evidence your professional enquiry and learning.

Feedback

It would be great to receive your feedback about this module. We are keen to know about the parts you found useful and where you feel we can improve. You can post your views on our short survey – thank you in advance for completing it.