Barriers to Learning (Teachers)

Role of the classroom teacher in supporting dyslexic learners. by Moira Thomson - Thursday, 7 October 2010, 10:56 AM

Role of the classroom teacher in supporting dyslexic learners. by Moira Thomson - Thursday, 7 October 2010, 10:56 AM

by Alasdair Andrew -
Number of replies: 1

Those who teach in 'dyslexia-friendly schools' will already have undertaken CPD on dyslexia.  If you wish to share your experience of these courses, add your comments here.

Those who have not completed other courses on dyselxia may have questions about CPD - ask these here.

In reply to Alasdair Andrew

Re: Role of the classroom teacher in supporting dyslexic learners. by Moira Thomson - Thursday, 7 October 2010, 10:56 AM

by Alasdair Andrew -
Re: Role of the classroom teacher in supporting dyslexic learners.
by Agnes Coles-Reichman - Tuesday, 18 January 2011, 11:50 AM
I have indeed had some CPD years ago on dyslexia, when I was working on long-term modern languages supply in one particular school. I found it extremely difficult to help some of the students with their French and the lady who presented this CPD session advised me to read this book from BDA (British Dyslexic Association):

Elke Schneider and Margaret Crombie (2003)
Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching

I found this quite helpful, although not an easy book to read.

My problem is that I am a supply teacher and not normally around for a very long time to try things out, nor to get to know the pupils really well. In schools where there is a good link with Learning Support, and where modern language teaching is valued and supported, a lot can be achieved and as I was in this particular school for two years on modern Languages supply, I built up a good relationship both with the Learning Support teacher and with the class. The students would go to the Learning Support Department for extra help and games, which would help them cope in class.

However most dyslexic students did still struggle with the written SQA exam (folios) and, if I had really had the choice, I would have preferred them to drop French and concentrate on English instead. In most cases they would have preferred this too and many a parent has asked me if this were possible. In some schools it was, in others not.
Better still, these students might benefit from oral tests and presentations without the written work. Perhaps the exam system should be adapted to their needs.

If anyone has advice for me and other supply teachers on helping dyslexic students, please let me know through the forum. I wonder if there are any spelling dictionaries available for dyslexic students in French or German, such as the ACE spelling dictionary by Mosley and Nicol. I just acquired this and think it is great!

With thanks, 
Agnes Coles-Reichman

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Re: Agnes posting on foreign language teaching
by Antonia Gowdy - Tuesday, 15 February 2011, 02:57 PM


A great book to read re: Dyslexia and foreign language teaching is Multilingualism, Literacy and Dyslexia: A Challenge for Educators - Paperback (20 Oct 2000) by Lindsay Peer and Gavin Reid. There still does not appear to be much up-to-the-minute literature on this subject – not that I have found anyway. Please reply if you do!

I believe that your dyslexic students’ challenges when it comes to learning a foreign language will fall on a spectrum, just as their difficulties do with English – you can’t offer a “one size fits all” approach, but if a student needs support in English they are going to need support in foreign language learning, and will struggle with the phonetic code. Our International School is moving apace towards multi-lingual teaching, so the curriculum will be delivered 50/50 in English and French. I think this is a great idea BUT there has to be learning support available in both languages. Many of my dyslexic students have excellent expressive oral language skills now, but struggle with writing, and I am constantly questioning whether they should be being made to write when they may not yet have strong phonemic abilities in the first language of instruction. Unfortunately, they have no choice in the matter and the French teachers are very strict!

I agree that our dyslexic students be evaluated orally, and/or be allowed to use ICT (there must be voice recognition software like Dragon in French and German.)

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Re: Agnes posting on foreign language teaching
by Antonia Gowdy - Wednesday, 16 February 2011, 12:27 PM

Thanks for your reply. Sorry to hear that there are such severe cutbacks in Scotland in ASN - at least there is some support in the main academic areas. This is why it is vital that classroom teachers receive CPD in ASN.

I feel my school foundation 'tries', but we are heavily under-resourced for the percentage of students we support in our schools. Thankfully in primary school, most teachers are using multi-sensory teaching styles which helps. The directorate are looking at charging for Learning Support, at which I was appalled with when I first heard about it. On reflection, the students may be able to receive a greater level of support. Fortunately, Geneva is a fairly wealthy area, but it still niggles a little at me that this basic tool should be charged for. Also, there are not many specialists in Geneva to support students whose parents can afford private tuition.

Just out of curiousity (and please don't feel you need to answer) but which city/area of Scotland do you teach in?

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Re: Role of the classroom teacher in supporting dyslexic learners.
by Antonia Gowdy - Tuesday, 15 February 2011, 02:34 PM

Unfortunately, I feel in our school ( an International School out-with the UK ) that most teachers ( not all ) feel that it is the learning support department’s responsibility to support students with specific learning difficulties through pull-out sessions rather than support being a “shared responsibility amongst the staff,” and so are reluctant to complete CPD in this area. I believe that CPD in learning differences has to be a priority at management level in the school for it to happen in a private school/institution.

As an ex-pat, is CPD in ‘Additional Support’ expected to be undertaken by each classroom teacher now? Is it government funded ? (I have been teaching outwith Scotland for more than 12 years now, so times have changed!) I have completed quite a few professional development courses in teaching students with dyslexia, but I have always had to self fund them which I think is very telling.

I would highly recommend each primary school staff room have a copy of Dyslexia and Inclusion: Classroom Approaches for Assessment,Teaching and Learning (David Fulton / Nasen Publication) - Paperback (27 Mar 2006) by Gavin Reid which I think is a wonderful resource, and am looking forward to the release of the Primary Support Package that you are working on, Moira J

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Re: Role of the classroom teacher in supporting dyslexic learners.
by Moira Thomson - Wednesday, 16 February 2011, 08:56 AM

Therre has been a recent review of teacher education (including CPD) in Scoltand by recently retired Chief Inspector (HMIe) Graham Donaldson

One of his recommendations is that all teachers should be skilled in supporting the development of literacy and numeracy skills in their pupils and in overcoming barriers to learning such as dyslexia.

He also recommends that the professional development of experienced teachers should be guided by a new set of standards developed by GTCS - this may be an area where all teachers might be required to take courses on additional support needs in the mainstream classroom.

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Re: Role of the classroom teacher in supporting dyslexic learners.
by Antonia Gowdy - Wednesday, 16 February 2011, 10:43 AM
I truly feel that good teachers should constantly value and be interested in CPD, especially in ASN areas where research and new methods of teaching are continually being reviewed and updated, especially in regards to dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, etc. With many of my colleagues who are interested, it is finding the time due to busy timetables, planning, multiple meetings, so the time needs to be made for them.

Just my personal opinion.
Picture of Moira Thomson
Re: Role of the classroom teacher in supporting dyslexic learners.
by Moira Thomson - Tuesday, 7 June 2011, 08:39 AM

We at CPD Bytes agree - this is the reason we started to develop online course in the Additional Needs area. Currently, teachers in Scotland are contracted to complete 35 hours of CPD per annum consisting of an appropriate balance of personal professional development, attendance at nationally accredited courses, small scale school based activities or other CPD activity. Donaldson identifies Core elements of CPD - and includes supporting learners, including the latest legislative and research-based advice on meeting the needs of all learners including those with additional support needs such as dyslexia or autism.

CPD Bytes listened to teachers who complained that much of the available online CPD was difficult to access and consisted of little more than watching an hour long video of a 'talking head' and reading on screen. We determined that short presentations that could be fitted into a busy day, interesting short video and links directly to other relevant websites would be a more acceptable format - and many teachers agree! However, we are always happy to hear of ideas that might make our courses more interesting - do contact us if you have suggestions.

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re: 35 hours of CPD
by Antonia Gowdy - Wednesday, 23 February 2011, 06:33 PM

I think that it is wonderful that teachers are obliged to complete 35 hours of prof. dev. each year and that ASN has been specifically highlighted as an area for development. Are teachers expected to conduct this CPD in their own time, or does a school allow some time towards completion of the 35 hours? I ask because I know many of my colleagues would cringe (and some protest rather loudly) at the thought of completing 35 hours extra ‘work’ on top of their already overloaded workload.

I have done quite a few online courses in the past, and have enjoyed the format of both CPD Bytes courses I have taken/am undertaking. Both are slightly different in format – the Hidden Dyslexia course being more paper/reading based and the Barriers to Learning being a mixture of both video and reading based learning. With Hidden Barriers, I feel you need to warn teachers in advance they need to buy the 2 main course books that much of the required reading is taken from, but I also love the fact that you provide multiple internet links to more in-depth information on each topic, so that is if this is a particular area of interest for you, you have available links.

I agree that keeping the videos fairly short and to the point is definitely preferable over an hour long presentation, where we know that most people ‘switch off ’at about the 15 minute point, and most couldn’t retain 60 minutes worth of knowledge (although we expect our secondary students to…...) I must say that I was particularly taken by the 30 minute video re: the family with 3 boys with ASD or ADHD. These are high quality video, and quickly and clearly get to the point (like the video of brain development). The videos all appear up-to-date, which is not always the case in other courses I have done.

How do you ensure that your CPD Bytes ‘pupils’ are watching all of the videos and/or doing all of the required reading? (although I presume most people on the course are professionals and wouldn’t bunk off! 

I am thoroughly enjoying your courses and look forward to signing up for more in the futuresmile

Picture of Antonia Gowdy
by Antonia Gowdy - Wednesday, 16 February 2011, 10:44 AM
Thanks for that link, Moira. I will add it to my reading list.
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Re: Role of the classroom teacher in supporting dyslexic learners.
by Theresa Meehan - Monday, 6 June 2011, 04:50 PM


As an experienced class teacher of many years I would like to endorse the views expressed by Chief Inspector(HMIe) Graham Donaldson on the continuing professional development of teachers.  It is vital to be continually reading about the latest research in the development of young children.  There are always new ideas to be tried and skills to be maintained or even improved.  I am delighted to hear of the set of standards to be developed by the GTCS and think that it can only be of benefit to both experienced classroom teachers and children alike. 


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Re: Role of the classroom teacher in supporting dyslexic learners.
by Moira Thomson - Tuesday, 7 June 2011, 08:40 AM

Graham Donaldson's report Teaching: Scotland's Future (December 2010) can now be found at

Course tutor

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re: 'EBD Primary - A Whole Story' video
by Antonia Gowdy - Wednesday, 23 February 2011, 09:33 PM
I have just added this to my blog page, but thought it was worth sharing with everyone:

EBD Primary - A Whole Story (slide 5 Identifying Learners with Social and
Emotional issues)

Wow - what a powerful video

A few quotes that stuck positively with me were 

'....bring everyone on board - this can be done in a mainstream school.'

'influence ripples throughout the school.'

'(We moved from) we can't include these students to 'wow', what amazing children they are, and there are benefits to everyone across the school.'

I loved the idea of the 'All About Me' books that can be shared with staff, supply staff, other students, relating 'things' that they can do to better help the students. Also, the related quote:
'They show remarkable self awareness about their behaviour and even their friend's behaviour, written in a booklet at the start of each school year.'

It was also very interesting to listen to the 3 ASN students reflections on one another at the end of the video.

An amazing school, with amazing perspectives. I would love to work there smile