Specific Learning Differences – Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a term used to describe a difficulty learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols. It is known as a specific learning difference (SpLD); indicating an obvious issue that does not affect general intelligence. There may be accompanying weaknesses in short term memory, visual and auditory perception, sequencing and the speed in processing information.

Dyslexia affects an individual’s ability to read, write and spell, and can have a profound effect on an individual’s confidence and self-esteem…. depending on the way it is perceived!

Viewing dyslexia as a learning disability can lead to parents/carers to search for interventions delivered by ‘specialists’, to improve, normalise or ‘cure’ the difficulty. Seeing dyslexia as a learning difference emphasises the uniqueness of the individual, embracing abilities and coping strategies. This encourages teachers, parents and pupils to adopt flexible instructional methods, adapt the learning environment, material presented, and utilise various teaching styles in order to accommodate the unique learner.

At Follifoot & Spofforth Schools we consider the multiple facets which are impacting on the pupils’ ability to learn, and encourage ‘scaffolded’ teaching, targeted interventions, and successful adaptations rather than attempting to ‘correct a problem’.

Identifying dyslexia

Support provided by our schools and specialist colleagues from NYCC  Inclusive Education Service does not require pupils to have a ‘formal’ diagnosis of dyslexia. We focus on the pupils educational profile, approach to learning and attitude to school.

However, we are aware that it can be helpful for children/young people and their families to have a ‘label’ to explain their difficulties and are not adverse to pupils who have a SpLD profile using the term ‘dyslexia’. The level of support available is determined by the level of need and the rates of progress the pupil is making. A ‘label’ or diagnosis has no bearing on the support available.

There is no single, specific assessment which can determine whether an individual has dyslexia. However there are certain factors which can determine its possibility, and profiles based on a range of assessments which can determine its likelihood:

  •  Children/young people whose parents or grandparents may have struggled to learn how to read or spell despite being otherwise capable.
  • Children/young people who have delayed language development are ‘at risk’ in developing dyslexia
  • Children/young people who have an inconsistent academic profile where there is a mismatch between their understanding (comprehension) and ability to read and write.
  • Children/young people who try to avoid activities that involve writing and reading preferring more creative methods of expressing what they know.

How do we support pupils with dyslexia?


Implement whole class practice, which involves making adjustments to the curriculum, resources, and the environment.  Adopting school policy, which emphasises dyslexia friendly practice.  Altering the learning environment to enhance learning.


Booster and targeted interventions which focus on improving spelling, reading, handwriting, and written comprehension.  These are implemented and embed within the school day. This approach provides the pupil with consistent input.


SpLD (Specific Learning Disability) Specialists support pupils by introducing strategies, interventions, and materials into the pupil’s school, to ensure the pupil is successful. They may introduce specialised programmes, provide whole school training and collaborate with staff to create an individualised provision map. They aim to enable school personnel to understand and address those pupils with a complex learning profile.

Focus of Support

We implement the following:

  • Environment
This involves adapting the learning environment so that it benefits the pupil with dyslexia. This may include:

  • Placing wall displays behind pupils to reduce distractions
  • Use of universal colours to backing paper and borders on displays within rooms/areas
  • Providing clear signage
  • Providing a visual timetable
  • Using buff coloured paper to reduce visual glare
  • Blinds are provided at windows to reduce distraction
  • Provision of an alphabet arc in classrooms
  • Use of privacy boards, writing slopes to aid visual focus
  • Providing ear defenders for those easily distracted
  • Ensuring that the pupil with dyslexia is positioned forward-facing, towards teacher
Classroom Strategies
  • Highlight high frequency words
  • Provision of learning mats
  • Availability of coloured overlays to improve reading focus
  • phonics teaching
  • Multisensory teaching is simultaneously visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic‐tactile to enhance memory and learning.
  • Use of clear fonts such as comic sans and ariel
  • Printed worksheets explaining homework rather than the expectation to copy information from a black or white board
  • Expectation of progress and success
  • Rules regarding reading out loud in class
  • Organisational prompts such as times or clocks
 Personal Strategies
  • Use of key word dictionaries
  • Apps to help with organisation, spelling, time schedules etc
    • Spell checkers
    • Use of lap top with relevant software i.e. autocorrect
    • Diaries and personal organisers
    • Reading pens
    • Note books


Targeted and Specialist Interventions We use the following targeted programmes, where appropriate:

  •  The Active Literacy Kit
  • Paired Reading
  • Use of Clicker 6
  • Cued Spelling

Following appropriate training we would also deliver any other programmes recommended following specialist advice.


Differentiated teaching materials We differentiate teaching materials such as the following:

  • Adaption of teaching styles to incorporate more multi-sensory materials
  • Use of lined paper
  • Reducing amount of information on the page
  • Altering volume of information on worksheets
  • Application for examination concessions
  • Use of reading window when reading text

Teachers understand and address the needs of pupils with dyslexia in the context of their own learning environment. The benefit of this approach is that:

  • The pupil is not stigmatised by his/her peers for being withdrawn from the classroom for ‘learning support lessons’
  • The child’s learning needs are met in the appropriate context by teachers familiar both to the pupil, and the curricular timetable.
  • Teachers & support staff deliver interventions at appropriate and convenient times, lessening the possibility that vital work is missed
  • Teachers become more confident in addressing all pupils’ learning needs
  • Teachers are able to embed strategies throughout the school day.
  • Realistic yet high expectations are maintained

This differs from a previous model whereby pupils were referred to external pupil support services. The disadvantage of this was that:

  • Teachers relinquished responsibility for individual pupils needs, referring to expertise external to the school
  • Pupils were withdrawn at times convenient to the support service and often missed classwork, putting them at a further disadvantage.
  • Pupils were often stigmatised by their peers as needing extra help
  • Support could be irregular based on the advisors availability
  • Support did not always relate to the curricular topic area and therefore added a further learning dimension
  • This approach lowered teachers expectations of what the pupil could and couldn’t do; using the ‘diagnostic label’ of SpLD/dyslexia to justify limited pupil potential.

Further Support

If universal and targeted support have failed to impact on supporting the pupil effectively, following consultation with the child’s parents, specialist support via the inclusive education team can be sought.

The Support Team

North Yorkshire Dyslexia Support is made up of 7 specialised teams which include a teacher in charge, full or part-time specialist teacher, and Advanced Teaching Assistant. These teams are based in 7 Secondary Schools which have an ‘enhanced’ status. The host school have been selected to ‘champion’ SpLD. The team are active in enhancing the base school, while offering an extensive outreach service to the cluster Primary and Secondary schools in their area. The teams are experienced in helping children and young people from Key Stage 1 to 4.

The team have qualifications and experience in dyslexia and are managed by the host school. They are supported by a Specialist Lead for SpLD who has qualifications in health, psychology and education, and extensive experience in supporting pupils with SpLD.

Request for Support

There are 2 levels of support provided by this service

1)   General advice (not relating to a specific named child/young person)

2)  a) Advice relating a specific problem (with parents/carers full consent)

b) Request for involvement and a programme of intervention

* Please note that a full assessment and request for involvement is only accepted if the pupil is NOT making progress.

Who do I contact?

If you would like further information or you believe that your child, has a specific learning disability you should contact our Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) Mrs Chantler.