Indicative competencies for teachers of learners with dyslexia

The GTC has provided guidance on the structure and nature of what could constitute appropriate additional specialised knowledge, understanding and skills required of teachers to enable them to meet the specific additional support needs of pupils with dyslexia .

In meeting the needs of these pupils, and in reaching the level of expertise required by the competence, account has to be taken both of the core characteristics of dyslexia as well as the personal profile of each individual child and young person with dyslexia.

The Indicative competencies for teachers of learners with dyslexia

Teachers should be able to demonstrate, through their application of knowledge, understanding and skills:

Knowledge and Understanding of dyslexia

Multi-agency partnership working


Language and communication

Social understanding

Medical / disability related knowledge

Specialised technology/aids

Specific legislation & policy

Teaching and learning

Working definition of dyslexia: Cross Party Group on Dyslexia 18 November 2008

The following working definition of dyslexia has been produced by the Cross Party Group on Dyslexia in the Scottish Parliament in collaboration with a range of stakeholders including the voluntary agencies, taking account of the earlier version produced by the Scottish Government. This is one of many definitions available. The aim of this particular working definition is to provide a description of the range of indicators and characteristics of dyslexia as helpful guidance for educational practitioners, pupils, parents/carers and others. This definition does not have any statutory basis.

Dyslexia can be described as a continuum of difficulties in learning to read, write and/or spell, which does not respond well to conventional teaching techniques. These difficulties often do not reflect an individual’s cognitive ability and are often not typical of performance in other areas.

The impact of dyslexia as a barrier to learning varies in degree according to the learning environment and the demands of the curriculum as there are 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 are often affected.

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

Early identification, appropriate intervention and targeted effective teaching will allow learners with dyslexia to become successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens.


“Blogs and Online diaries should be part of school curriculum ” says Thinktank

Charles Leadbeater introduced his lecture at the Scottish  Learning Festival on 25/09/08 with a You tube clip of a teenage boy playing guitar in his bedroom. The clip had had 49 million hits!

A report in the Guardian 6/10/08 points out the claims of the Think tank, Demos, (with which Leadbeater is associated), that young people “are being failed by adults who are not paying proper attention to this new medium.”

“The study.. considers how their enthusiasm and skills can be encouraged.”

“The report makes recommendations to help adults cope with the changing online environment and calls particularly on schools to help youngsters understand the long term implications of living their lives in a semi-public way.”

“Schools should prepare young people for an era where CV’s may well be obsolete, enabling them to manage their on-line reputation .” says the report, “we need an educational response that extends beyond the focus of safety towards broader questions of privacy and intellectual property.”

I was personally concerned about the information my teenage daughter was relaying about herself on Facebook, especially when she realised that her boss had added herself as a friend.

Politicians see youngsters as apathetic and unreachable, according to the Guardian.

“The (UK )government is pouring money into this because they feel young people should be making themselves heard”…”but bloggers say it feels contrived.”

Barack Obama in the United States, on the other hand, is said to be the first ‘Youtube politician’ because “he gets that you can’t control it. His campaign team get that its about the enthusiasm”…”he encouraged (young voters) to exercise their creative urges online, instead of simply dictating his ideas to them.”

Asking four-year-olds to write ‘does more harm than good’

Applies to England only. The Times reports that according to a literacy expert teaching four-year-olds to write is about as useful as teaching a dog to walk on its hind legs,  as figures showed that one in seven preschool children struggle to write their own name.

The annual assessments of children’s progress during their first year in school found that more than one fifth had problems stringing a coherent written sentence together when they entered their reception year. Nearly a quarter failed to reach the expected levels of emotional development for their age. The findings follow concerns that some of the Government’s early years goals are unrealistic and risk setting back their development.

Sue Palmer, an independent literacy consultant and author of the book Toxic Childhood, said that many under-5s were simply too young to achieve the literacy goals set out for them.

Let pupils abandon spelling rules, says academic

The Times reports that a leading academic will claim this week that children are being held back at school because they are forced to memorise irregular spellings and learn how to use the apostrophe. John Wells, Emeritus Professor of Phonetics at University College London and president of the Spelling Society, will use the society’s centenary dinner this week to call for a “freeing up” of English spelling.

He says, “The teaching of literacy in schools is a major worry. It seems highly likely that one of the reasons Britain and other English-speaking countries have problems with literacy is because of our spelling and the burden it places on children…’

Sounds good to me!

More on Modern Foreign Language Learning

‘Anybody can learn’

Let’s adopt the teaching methods of legendary language guru Michel Thomas, a new book pleads. Anthea Lipsett finds out why

There’s a belief that languages either come naturally to a person, or they don’t. But to the late Michel Thomas, the “world’s greatest language master”, there was no such thing as a bad student, only a bad teacher.

It’s a view that grates with prevailing educational opinion. These days, children’s inability to learn is often blamed on a variety of learning disabilities. If teachers are brought into the equation, it is usually by ministers either claiming the workforce is the best trained it has ever been, or declaring that inadequate teachers must be fired.

Thomas believed his method, applied faithfully, would work with anyone. Students saw him as a magician. Now, in his new book The Language Revolution, the educational psychologist Jonathan Solity reveals how Thomas set about teaching foreign languages and the psychological principles behind his methods. He thinks they could revolutionise teaching, and help schools meet targets.

Modern Languages and Dyslexia

I had an interesting meeting at a high school last week with the parents of a boy who has just started S1. They felt that his dyslexic difficulties meant he should be withdrawn from French and he should receive extra tuition in English language skills. 

I re-read a couple of excellent papers by Margaret Crombie, (Cognition and Learning Difficulties and Foreign Language Learning and Dyslexia), before dipping into LT Scotland’s superb resource, Maximising Potential. I also referred to Moira Thomson’s work for Dyslexia Scotland, Supporting Dyslexic Pupils in the Secondary School.

While all are agreed that foreign language learning presents young people with difficulties unique challenges, it is also the case that they have a right to be exposed to a different language and culture.

The conclusion we came to at the meeting was that the student should be able to access a variety of learning experiences, with a multi-sensory, cumulative focus, with an emphasis on talking and listening. He should have to write in French only rarely. When I have worked with teachers in MFL departments I have often been struck by their ability to make learning fun, to motivate young people with games and technology, to appeal to all different learning styles. They seem to know that variety is the spice of learning!

Scottish-US study to help deaf and hard of hearing children with maths

Scientists in Scotland and the US will undertake a study to investigate why children who are deaf or hard of hearing experience problems with

Researchers in Scotland and the US will now spend four years investigating the problem after being awarded £800,000 in funding from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development in America.

The study will examine a number of areas including memory and attention skills, parental and child attitudes to maths and basic number skills.


Graphic novels draw in reluctant readers

TESS reports on a recent continuing professional development session on using comics in the classroom by Dr Mel Gibson.

Ever considered using Viz’s Fat Slags to spark a class debate about gender representation? What about using Jackie to teach history? Or juxtaposing Japanese manga and Shakespeare? No?

In all likelihood, neither had teachers gathered at the National Library of Scotland, in Edinburgh, until they attended a recent continuing professional development session on using comics in the classroom by Dr Mel Gibson – or Dr Mel Comics, “because there’s no point in doing a Google search for Mel Gibson”.

Nat Edwards, head of education at the library, introduces Dr Gibson as a leading scholar on comics and graphic novels. Her job, she says, is to “enthuse” the assembled teachers, but she also wants to dispel any idea that such literature is “mostly violent and full of awfulness”.

Comics are, she argues, a means of developing literacy. There is, for example, the Classical Comics range which includes Shakespeare’s Henry V and Macbeth; there’s Persepolis, an autobiographical novel by Marjane Satrapi depicting her childhood in Iran after the revolution; and The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot about a girl who has suffered sexual abuse. “It’s a book about the power of literature and art to make life worth living again,” Dr Gibson says.