Dyslexia ‘cure’ centres shut down


The BBC reports that thirteen UK centres offering controversial treatment for people with dyslexia have been shut down due to financial difficulties.

The Dore programme claimed exercises such as tying knots and balancing on “wobble boards” stimulated parts of the brain and improved reading and writing. Some 30,000 children and adults have enrolled on the programme since 2000.

Well, well. Are we allowed a certain amount of schadenfreude? Or is that unprofessional?

Expert says txt is gr8 4 language


The BBC reports that a linguistics expert has rejected claims that texting by mobile phone is bad for language and literacy skills. Professor David Crystal argues that such condensed messages enhance and enrich language skills. He called it an “urban myth” that school work was riddled with text speech, and said in fact students knew when to use it in the right context. The honorary professor of linguistics at Bangor University said texting was widespread across all age groups. Prof Crystal said that texting had had a bad press, and it was merely another way to use language.

Whilst researching his book – Txtng: the Gr8 Db8 – Prof Crystal said the oldest example of texter he had found was an 86-year-old grandmother in the United States.

It was also a misconception that text messages were all made up of abbreviated words, he said.

Start children reading early and they’ll keep turning the page


Caroline McLeod, Bookstart national development manager for Scotland, says Bookstart can help to tackle falling literacy levels.

With Scotland currently occupying 26th place on The International Reading League table, and frequent reports in the press about the country’s falling literacy levels, it is becoming increasingly clear that the main answer to the problem is pre-school intervention.

It has been proven by Bookstart, a UK-wide programme administrated by the national independent charity Booktrust, funded by the Scottish Government and supported by more than 25 children’s publishers, that babies and toddlers who are exposed to books on a regular basis are further ahead in reading, writing, numeracy and listening skills when they reach school.

This is because the first three years are crucial in providing the foundations for learning throughout our lives. This is when we learn to talk and it is during this time that our brains develop at a tremendous rate.

Bookstart In Scotland Day gives the gift of free books to all children at around eight weeks, 18 months and three years, along with guidance materials for parents and carers’

No advantage to setting – experts say


The BBC reports that setting in primary schools by ability has no clear advantages, but can have a detrimental effect on children in the bottom groups, a new report says.

Setting is when children are in ability groups for different subjects. Those in the top group work faster and have enhanced learning opportunities, with teachers expecting more from them, a team of academics from London said. But those in the lower groups can be stigmatised, and often have their activities restricted, the report said. The findings come nearly a decade after then prime minister Tony Blair said schools needed to “take account of different abilities, for example by setting”. Another finding of the paper, published as part of the Primary Review – a wide-ranging examination of primary school education – suggested class sizes should be cut to a maximum of 25 to help young children who struggle with reading. It also suggested that smaller classes could help children in the first year of secondary school.

Better access to learning resources for people with visual impairments


The Scottish Government has announced that young people with visual impairments, or other print disabilities, in Scotland will have access to the best educational material available from next term.

From August, they will be able to use the Scottish Books for All database powered by SCRAN, one of the largest educational online services, to access learning materials.

The database will contain a list of adapted materials which teachers can access to ensure that all pupils with additional support needs receive curriculum materials at the same time as their classmates in a format that meets their needs.

Adam Ingram, Minister for Children and Early Years, announced the move during a debate around a call by RNIB Scotland for a national transcription service for young people.

He said:

“RNIB have been very helpful in drawing this issue to our attention but we believe that with the steps we have taken there is no need for the type of national transcription service they propose. We are totally committed to ensuring that all our pupils can access the curriculum. The Books for All report has enabled us to identify gaps in provision and take positive steps to ensure that we can achieve this aim.”

Scheme helps bad readers catch up


The BBC reports that a study suggests that struggling young readers make lasting progress on a scheme that offers one-to-one support. Reading Recovery provides six-year-olds with tailored coaching from specially trained teachers for half an hour a day for between 12 and 20 weeks. A study of 500 pupils found those on the programme not only caught up with their age-group but were out-performing the national average within two years.

Problem readers on other catch-up schemes remained a year or more behind. The Institute of Education study assessed the progress of 500 of the poorest young readers at 42 schools in 10 inner London boroughs.

Exam papers go digital


TESS reports that an alternative to scribes and readers used by pupils requiring support in exams has been launched.

Scotland is the first part of the UK to offer digital papers to exam candidates, as an alternative to scribes and readers for pupils requiring support.

With the exam season fully underway this week, 209 pupils in 48 schools will use the adapted question papers to sit 509 examinations over the course of the next few weeks. This follows successful trials of adapted digital papers in 2006 and 2007 by the Scottish Qualifications Authority and CALL Scotland (the Communication, Access, Literacy and Learning team at Moray House School of Education).

A first for East Lothian!

Person Centred Planning

Ask me what is most important in this world

Let me tell you.

It is people! It is people! It is people!

Maori Proverb

Yesterday at the Linton Hotel in East Linton, 25 enthusiasts including teachers, therapists, support workers, educational psychologists and education officers, met for training in Person Centred Planning using Graphic Facilitation.

The training was led by Colin and Derek of Inclusive Solutions, a national organisation whose aim is to support schools and local authorities to create fully inclusive schools and communities where all belong. They were delighted to tell us that East Lothian is the first authority in Scotland to invite them to deliver this training.

Many of us at the training recognise the need to look at the way that meetings are conducted – to be more creative so that they become more real and engaging. This is particularly essential when a child or young person’s future is being discussed.

Through this training we were able to understand Person Centred Planning, its values and applications. We practised the process in a supportive setting and had fun doing it! At the end of the day, we stood in the sunny garden of the Linton and enthused about what we had learned and shared.

If you are interested in hearing more about Person Centred Planning using Graphic Facilitation, please contact your cluster Educational Psychologist, Liz Herd or Linda Gaughan. More information available at www.inclusive-solutions.com including this link:

Linda Gaughan

Inclusion & Equality Officer

Review of dyslexia provision for children announced (England)


The Guardian reports that ministers have announced a major review of the way 300,000 children with dyslexia are taught in state schools.

The children’s secretary, Ed Balls, has asked Sir Jim Rose, the former Ofsted inspector, to look at dyslexia provision in schools as part of his review of the primary curriculum.

Rose’s 2006 reading review led to the controversial introduction of synthetic phonics to teach reading in all schools.