Dyslexia-Friendly Further & Higher Education


Barbara Pavey, Margaret Meehan & Alan Waugh

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    This book is dedicated to Peter Pumfrey


    The authors would like to thank Jane Stroud, Neil Gilbride, Robert Edwards, Sandy Cross, Christine McCall and others who have read extracts for us or discussed with us the points raised. We would also like to thank Orla ni Dhubhghaill, Trevor Spalding, Mary O'Grady, Janet Thomas and Alison Doyle for advice about Ireland; Marie Maunsell-Stuart for advice about 14+ provision in FE, and Professor Angela Fawcett of Swansea University for advice about the ISHEDS project.

    We would like to acknowledge that the audit tool (Appendix 2) and the lesson/lecture plan in Appendix 6 follow similar items, but have been amended for FE and HE, to those developed in Pavey (2007). The essay-writing template and word count guidelines (Appendix 5) appear in Martin and Pavey (2008) and are published here with the permission of the University of Birmingham.

    We are grateful to Naomi Garrett of Widgit Software, for providing us with the image at the start of Chapter 5. We would like also to thank Jude Bowen, Amy Jarrold and colleagues at Sage Publishing and Deer Park Productions.

    Finally, we would like to thank our students, and also our colleagues in FE and HE who experience dyslexia in their own right, and whose experience and insight inform this book.

    About the Authors

    Barbara Pavey has been an inclusion and special education practitioner in a range of settings, including primary, secondary, specialist, FE and HE. She has been a SENCO and a local authority educational officer in SEN, and holds a rights-based view of education, focusing on helping practitioners to enable pupils and students to make progress. She is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education and Theology at York St John University.

    Margaret Meehan has worked with adults with specific learning difficulties in HE for over 15 years. Initially working with dyslexic students who experienced difficulties with mathematics and science, Margaret subsequently worked with students across all disciplines. Her training in advanced counselling skills enables Margaret to understand how specific learning difficulties impinge on every aspect of daily living.

    Alan Waugh has been involved with post-16 education for 12 years and has always worked with learners who have experienced specific learning difficulties, including dyslexia, dyspraxia and autistic spectrum disorder. Currently Programme Area Manager for Learner Support at City College, Coventry, Alan works with a diverse range of learners and he advises colleagues in the curriculum areas.

  • Appendix 1 List of Acronyms

    ADDAttention Deficit Disorder
    ADHDAttention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
    ADSHEAssociation of Dyslexia Specialists in Higher Education
    AHEADAssociation on Higher Education and Disability (North America)
    ALGAdult Learning Grant
    ALSAdditional Learner Support
    AMAAdvanced Modern Apprenticeship
    ASCAutistic Spectrum Conditions (e.g. Autism/Asperger's Syndrome)
    ASLAmerican Sign Language
    BDABritish Dyslexia Association
    BPSBritish Psychological Society
    CAOCentral Applications Office
    CILIPChartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals
    CoPCode of Practice
    CoVECentre of Vocational Excellence
    CPDContinuous Professional Development
    DANDADevelopmental Adult Neuro-Diversity Association
    DCDDevelopmental Coordination Disorder (also known as dyspraxia)
    DCSFDepartment for Children, Schools and Families
    DDADisability Discrimination Act
    DDPDiploma Development Partnerships
    DELDepartment for Employment and Learning
    DESDepartment of Education and Science
    DfESDepartment for Education and Skills
    DoEDepartment of Education
    DRCDisability Rights Commission
    DSADisabled Students' Allowance
    DTLLSDiploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector
    EBDEmotional and Behavioural Difficulties
    ESFEuropean Social Fund
    FCFFinancial Contingency Fund
    FEfurther education
    HEhigher education
    HEAHigher Education Act
    HMIEHer Majesty's Inspectorate of Education
    HNDHigher National Diploma
    IAInitial Assessment
    ICTinformation and communications technology
    IDAInternational Dyslexia Association
    IEPindividual education plan
    IFLInstitute for Learning
    ILPIndividual Learning Plan
    ISHEDSIdentification and Support in Higher Education for Dyslexic Students
    L2Second language
    LALocal Authority
    LDLearning Disability
    LDDLearning Disabilities and/or Difficulties
    LGNLateral Geniculate Nucleus
    LSALearner Support Agreement
    LSCLearning and Skills Council
    MISMeares-Irlen Syndrome
    NVQNational Vocational Qualifications
    OfstedOffice for Standards in Education
    PatossThe Professional Association of Teachers of Students with Specific Learning Difficulties
    QAAQuality Assurance Agency for Higher Education
    SENSpecial Educational Needs
    SENCOSpecial Educational Needs Coordinator
    SENDASpecial Educational Needs and Disability Act
    SENCoPSpecial Educational Needs Code of Practice
    SENDOSpecial Educational Needs and Disability Order
    SpLDSpecific Learning Difficulty
    STEMScience, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
    UCASUniversities and Colleges Admissions Service
    UIDUniversal Instructional Design
    WBLWork-Based Learning (refers to NVQ programmes)
    WRITWide Range Intelligence Test
    WRLWork-Related Learning (refers to 14–16 provision)

    Appendix 2 Self-Evaluation/Audit Tool

    Dyslexia-Friendly Further and Higher Education © B. Pavey, M. Meehan and A. Waugh 2010

    Dyslexia-Friendly Further and Higher Education © B. Pavey, M. Meehan and A. Waugh 2010

    Appendix 3 Suggestions for a Policy on Dyslexia in FE/HE

    Assessment of a SpLD
    • Dyslexia, a specific learning difficulty (SpLD), is a registered disability. Students who have a report by an educational psychologist or other appropriately qualified professional as evidence of a SpLD are eligible for appropriate support without compromising academic standards.
    • In further education, learners will be assessed in accordance with the Joint Council for Qualifications guidelines. A suitably qualified specialist teacher employed by the college, a qualified psychologist or LA specialist will complete a diagnostic report determining the presence of a SpLD and a Form 8 will be completed to confirm the adjustments required. This should indicate information relating to a history of need or a history of provision, and arrangements should reflect the learner's ‘normal way of working’.
    • The assessments used will be appropriate and reflect the recommendations of the SpLD Working Group 2005/DfES Guidelines (July 2005) for assessments of SpLDs in higher education.
    • The assessment report will include recommendations for teaching and learning as well as access arrangements.
    • The institution is required by law to support disabled students effectively. The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) 2001 being Part IV of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995, states that the institution must:
      • avoid discriminating against disabled students
      • make reasonable adjustments to facilitate students' learning
      • avoid creating unnecessary barriers to achievement, but not at the expense of academic standards
      • be anticipatory; requiring departments to plan ahead for the needs of future students.
    • The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) places specific expectations on institutions to provide disabled students with the same opportunities as their peers through its Code of Practice for the Assurance of Academic Quality and Standards.
    • In further education, the statutory regulation of external qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland 2004 (para 9) states that awarding bodies must ‘ensure access and equality of opportunity while safeguarding the integrity of the qualifications’.
    Reasonable Adjustments
    • SENDA (DfES, 2001) uses the term ‘reasonable adjustment’ as the measure by which provision for disabled students is set.
    • The term ‘reasonable adjustment’ is open to interpretation but it may be considered as: ‘A necessary accommodation or alteration to existing academic programmes, offering individuals the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities’ (Association of Dyslexia Specialists in Higher Education, ADSHE, 2007: 3, para. 2.2).
    What is Dyslexia?
    • [Institutions may want to give their preferred definition of dyslexia here, for example the BDA or Dyslexia Action definition, followed by:
    • An explanation of how dyslexia is likely to affect students. For example, one of the aspects of dyslexia that affects literacy is a difficulty in associating sounds with pictures and is linked to relatively inefficient rapid information-processing capabilities and short-term memory. Consequently, dyslexic students experience difficulties in reading, writing, spelling and mathematics.]
    Recording Lectures
    • Recording lectures is considered a reasonable adjustment. Any recording is for private use only.
    • In the case of a tutorial or seminar where the information may be shared and of a confidential nature, agreement of all those present is required.
    Assessment and Examination Provision
    • Fair assessment should be guaranteed for all students including those with particular assessment arrangements.
    • In FE qualifications where learners are not completing examinations but are expected to show evidence of competence determining a particular level of ability, this evidence of competence can be presented by using mechanical, electronic and other aids, as long as the aids are generally commercially available.
    • It is necessary to ensure that learners can meet the specified criteria and that adjustments reflect learners' normal ways of working.
    • All assessed work submitted by students is eligible for marking with reference to the institution's guidelines.
    • If the institution has a policy of anonymous marking, in order for the college or university to comply with the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act, students with SpLDs should have the opportunity to have their examination booklets and coursework endorsed. Their work may be identified by means of a stamp, sticker or other alternative according to the policy of the Institution.
    • It may not be possible for students with SpLDs to identify their work, for example in a foreign language test where the grammar, punctuation and spelling is being assessed. This must be publicised explicitly in the module handbook.
    • Extensions to deadlines should be considered but successive extensions may not help the student.
    • 25 per cent extra time in examinations and class tests (including practical sessions) is commonly recommended by needs assessors and educational psychologists for students who have been assessed with SpLDs.
    • Needs assessors or educational psychologists may recommend other accommodations; for example, the use of a reader.
    • These recommendations should be adopted at the request of the student and after discussion with the disability office.
    • A reader or the use of screen-reading software cannot be provided where reading or understanding of written words is an element being assessed such as in Key Skills Communication. As an alternative it may be appropriate to offer extra time of 50 per cent.
    • A learner with ASC or EBD may require a rest break and a separate room for examination or assessment.
    Marking Coursework and Examination Scripts
    • Course assignments, when being marked, should reflect the knowledge demonstrated by a learner.
    • Learners should not be penalised for errors in punctuation, spelling and grammar.
    Alternative Forms of Assessment
    • Alternative forms of assessment should be considered when at the design stage of a module.
    • In the case of professional examinations or where accuracy in written language is essential alternative forms of assessment may not be an option.
    • Students should be involved in discussions concerned with an alternative assessment format.
    • If it is not possible to make any adjustment, it must be clear on what grounds this decision has been made.
    • If a student is assessed as having a SpLD during the course of an academic year and his or her marks are at the borderline for passing a module, re-marking completed coursework within that year should be considered, where practicable.

    Appendix 4 Template Plan for Writing Essays

    This works for anything that does not already provide a specific format, e.g. essays, dissertations, theses, business plans, reports, papers, books.

    Useful techniques:

    • Background → present position → way forward
    • Tell them what you're going to tell them → tell them → tell them what you told them.

    Dyslexia-Friendly Further and Higher Education © B. Pavey, M. Meehan and A. Waugh 2010

    Appendix 5 Lecture Plan

    Dyslexia-Friendly Further and Higher Education © B. Pavey, M. Meehan and A. Waugh 2010

    Appendix 6 Useful Websites

    Association of Dyslexia Specialists in Higher Education: http://www.adshe.org.uk

    Autism Research Centre: http://www.autismresearchcentre.com (Features the research and work of Professor Simon Baron-Cohen et al. There are useful research articles and information for educationalists and those involved with young people and adults with autistic spectrum and Asperger's syndrome difficulties.)

    Beattie Resources for Inclusion in Technology and Education: http://www.BRITE.ac.uk (BRITE was set up in Scotland following the Beattie report into FE in Scotland. The website features a lot of good advice for teachers and students in further and higher education and also advice on assistive technology.)

    British Dyslexia Association: http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk (This is a registered charity committed to dyslexia-friendly teaching practices and providing information on dyslexia.)

    The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals: http://www.cilip.org.uk (Represents staff and management involved in library and information services.)

    The Developmental Adult Neuro-diversity Association (DANDA): http://www.danda.org.uk

    Diploma Support Programme: http://www.diploma-support.org (Supports the 14–19 diploma programme with advice for schools and parents.)

    Dyslexia Action: http://www.dyslexia-action.org.uk (Provides assessment centres throughout the UK and is one of the organisations responsible for the licensing of practitioners to carry out DSA assessments.)

    The Dyslexia and Dyscalculia Interest Group (DDIG): http://ddig.lboro.ac.uk/www_links.html

    Dyslexia at College: http://www.dyslexia-college.com (A support site for students at college or university.)

    The Dyslexia SpLD Trust: http://www.thedyslexia-spldtrust.org.uk (Was launched in March 2009 and is supported by the British Dyslexia Association, Dyslexia Action, Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre and Patoss. This site is aimed at practitioners and as an information and awareness raising site by all of these organisations.)

    Dyspraxia Foundation: http://www.dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk (Provides support for those who experience dyspraxia and their families as well as advice for professionals.)

    The Institute for Learning: http://www.ifl.ac.uk (Monitors the registration and CPD of teaching staff in FE.)

    JISC TechDis Service: http://www.techdis.ac.uk (Aims to support the education sector by providing advice and guidance on assistive technology that will support learners with disabilities.)

    National Association for Special Educational Needs: http://www.nasen.org.uk (Supports young people with special educational needs and the professionals who work with them.)

    Patoss: http://www.patoss-dyslexia.org (Responsible for monitoring professional teachers who provide assessment and support throughout the UK for those experiencing dyslexia. Also provides licensed practitioner status to those carrying out DSA assessments.)

    Teaching and Development Agency for Schools: http://www.tda.gov.uk (Responsible for the training and development of the school workforce. Features advice and guidance for those who would like to enter the teaching profession and for those who are already in the profession.)


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