© Cathy Blairs, Specialist Teacher, Beaver Road Primary School, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 6SX         Website by robertblairs.co.uk

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What is Dyslexia?

Defining dyslexia…

Finding a definition of dyslexia is simple. Finding one that everyone can agree on is challenging.

In 2009 Sir Jim Rose’s Report on 'Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties’ gave the following description of dyslexia:

So, dyslexia can affect the way you communicate, and it’s different for everyone. Unidentified dyslexia can result in low self esteem, high stress and low achievement.

People with dyslexia will benefit from spotting it early, and with support can find ways to learn which suit them better.

 Did you know?

The word ‘dyslexia’ comes from the Greek meaning ‘difficulty with words’.

One in 10 of us is thought to be dyslexic in some way.

Each person with dyslexia has a unique set of difficulties, and

abilities – like musical talent, or good verbal skills.

Early recognition, appropriate teaching and support at school means

children with dyslexia don’t have to lose out.


Dyslexia is different for everyone.

Identification of dyslexia will help know what support, if any, might be needed.

Identifying dyslexia is complicated because the profile of one dyslexic person will be different from another. Because of this, we like to build up a well-rounded profile of a child and see their strengths and weaknesses together to be able to then plan how best to support them in acquiring the skills needed.

At Beaver Road all the staff have been trained in recognising the most common indicators and at how to adapt their planning and assessment to ensure that they deliver ‘dyslexia aware’ lessons in a ‘dyslexia friendly’ environment.

For identified children and those who are presenting with persistent difficulties in the classroom, the specialist teacher will carry out a battery of standardised and informal assessments in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the child’s strengths and weaknesses in relation to their specific learning difficulties and differences, which may lead to additional support.

What do we mean by dyslexia aware or dyslexia friendly?

One way to think about ‘dyslexia friendly’ is ‘learning friendly’ or ‘mind friendly’. Looking at dyslexia as a difference means looking at the ways we present information, and the environment and culture for learning we develop and foster in our classrooms.  At Beaver Road we encourage all the children to recognise and understand what their learning preferences are and as they grow older we will see the children become more able to personalise their own learning experiences by using the strategies that suit them best.

“being an effective school and becoming dyslexia friendly seem to be two sides of the same coin”

                                                                                                                           Neil MacKay


What are learning preferences or styles?

People don’t all learn best in the same ways.  Research in the area of intelligence over the last 30 years has proven that there are in fact a number of ‘intelligences’ which we can all develop and become good at. These include language, maths, music, sport, social skills, practical skills and so on.  Within these strengths we can identify ways in which we learn the best, known as learning styles.  These styles are visual (see), auditory (hear), and kinaesthetic (actively doing things).  Some people have one particular area which is dominant, and others learn best by using a combination.

At Beaver Road, a major part of our ‘dyslexia aware’ approach is teaching in a multisensory way (using all three learning styles) so that all children can access information in the way that suits them the best.

Multisensory is best

The more senses involved in learning, and the more ways that information can be transformed into something else, the more permanent the learning.

Teach all learners as if they are dyslexic

Use a multisensory, mind friendly approach, based on an understanding of learning styles and preferences to develop confidence, self-esteem and emotional intelligence.

                                                                                              Neil MacKay

Why is it important to recognise these preferences and strengths?

The perceptions children have of themselves now often stick with them for the rest of their lives. Children usually view intelligence as to do with success in school – school makes up the majority of their lives, and a view of themselves as not performing well here can lead to feelings of being ‘stupid’, ‘rubbish’ and worse. This poor self-image can lead to difficulties in relationships, anger, frustration, and a sense of failure. The news that every person is intelligent and you can be intelligent in different ways can be empowering for children.

’If they don’t learn the way we teach them, can we teach them the way they learn?’’

                                                                                           Dr Harry Chasty


Why be dyslexia aware?

About 10% of pupils in our schools are dyslexic, and experience ‘unexpected difficulties’ in acquiring certain basic skills.  For the majority of these children, their needs can be addressed through ‘reasonable adjustments’ by the class teacher.  However, about 4% of pupils are likely to require more specialist teaching.

With a ‘dyslexia-friendly’ approach in teaching across the classes children will also experience a continuity and consistency of good practice from year to year, which provides a sense of certainty and assurance that many children need to create a positive learning environment.

Finally, strategies used for addressing the barriers to achievement for dyslexics make teaching and learning for all more effective.


‘’There is nothing so unfair as the equal treatment of unequal children’’

                                                                      Thomas Jefferson

Our Dyslexia Aware School

Beaver Road Primary School is currently working towards obtaining The Trafford Dyslexia Aware Quality Mark or in other words, Dyslexia Friendly School accreditation. The term ‘dyslexia friendly school’ was first coined by Neil MacKay and his following definition of dyslexia fits in with our ethos at Beaver Road:

“A specific learning difference which for any given level of ability may cause unexpected difficulties in the acquisition of certain skills”

Dyslexia Awareness Week

2nd - 8th October 2017

The theme: ‘Positive about Dyslexia’

Being dyslexic can actually help in the outside world. I See some things clearer than other people do because I have to simplify things to help me and that has helped others. ~Richard Branson

For more information please visit the BDA website (click here)

Click here to see lots of interesting interviews with famous dyslexic people on youtube!