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It's time that we become multi-educational

Wednesday 7 October 2020

‘Up to 80% of students with dyslexia leave school either without a diagnosis, or the support to reach their potential’.

Debbie Carletti has worked in education, supporting students with dyslexia and specific learning differences for many years. She shares her school’s unique approach to screening and shines a light on ongoing problem with our education system today.

Guest editing the afternoon show on Radio 5 Live last month, with dyslexia the topic for debate, it was difficult to explain how this could be possible. I work in a small rural school in Herefordshire and was surprised that the dyslexia screening package that we use to test our yr7 cohort and any new students, was not more widely available, yet it seems we are in the minority.

Dyslexia is an educational boomerang; it keeps coming back as a focus for discussion. We are years on from its original diagnosis, yet clearly, the stats are suggesting that we are not providing the support so badly needed.

When I entered the world of education, I chose to focus on students with additional needs, who required support just to be able to access the curriculum. My PGCE allows me to be an HLTA, but I also became a Dyslexia Support Coordinator as a consequence of wanting to better understand how dyslexic students needed to be supported. I studied for a Level 5 diploma SpLD (Dyslexia) in the evenings, so now feel that I have a better understanding of a diagnosis which is so often misunderstood. There is no one size fits all answer; no two dyslexic students will have exactly the same needs.

Our school uses a computer-based package which is comprised of 6 separate tests: spelling, reading, missing pieces, sound blends, vocabulary and visual search (the ability to read and comprehend text). A report containing the test results enables us to act quickly, as it indicates pupils’ strengths and weaknesses ranging from ‘no signs’ to ‘severe’. Parents receive summaries of their child’s results and the school has the opportunity to start putting intervention / class support in place where it is likely to be beneficial.

Positive emails are great to receive when identified needs have been met. Similarly, the relief from parents and carers that their child is receiving help. Close relationships between school and home is vital to our students, to ensure that everyone is involved with both their academic and emotional wellbeing. Whilst screening does address some of the issues that our dyslexic students struggle with, there will still be those who may require a full specialist teacher report. However, it does highlight where some of the problems may be.

If this type of basic screening was practised in more schools, it might start to address the deficit of students who go undiagnosed. Similarly, greater awareness of what is involved with dyslexia being deliberately directed as part of teacher training would help to dispel the myths and fears that can abound.

Greater knowledge should help to eradicate the lack of support that dyslexic people have suffered with for years and many continue to do so. Dyslexia is a learning DIFFERENCE. In a world that is increasingly aware of its billions of citizens and its multicultural diversity, it is time that we become multi-educational and deliver the support which dyslexic people are entitled to and eradicate the 80% statistic once and for all! There is a wealth of talent waiting to be released, so perhaps we should be asking a different question. Do we actually have the right to deny these students an education?

Debbie Carletti HLTA / Dyslexia Support Coordinator.

Throughout Dyslexia Week, we are asking people to sign our petition to increase access to assessment in schools. Join our campaign by visiting