SPLD Central Live Blog

Welcome to the live blog for my first visit to SpLD Central being held in Staffordshire on Thursday 8th 2016.

Arriving tonight (7th June) I will add to this blog as the event unfolds.

The highlight of the event will be the talk by international thought leader on Dyslexia, Gavin Reid.

More information about the event can be found at http://www.spldcentral.com/

I will update this blog through the day on Thursday 8th June.

Thursday 8th June 2016 09:30 - Bob Hext (MD - Crossbow Education) Opens SPLD Central.

Bob Hext - Opening SpLD Central
09:40 - Introducing Dr Gavin Reid - Keynote 1 - Understanding and dealing with dyslexia.

Dr Gavin Reid addressing the delegates of SpLD Central
People with Dyslexia can see the unseen. Focusing on the positives.

Gavin stated that the point of doing what he does is to enable people with Dyslexia to realise their potential.

Some people like to employ people with Dyslexia.  'People with Dyslexia can see the unseen!'

The perception of dyslexia needs to be more positive as there are some very real skills that dyslexics have such as big picture thinking and thinking out of the box!

'I don't see Dyslexia as having a stigma in the UK anymore.  It is not the same in other countries'.

When people do IQ tests and exams and do well, they do well not because of intellect but because of their ability to do tests very well.  They do not tell the whole story.  The educational journey is important and I want to measure learning ability not test performance.

It is important to focus on learning support for pupils.  We need to try and help that young person become a better learning so that when they leave school they know how to read questions, identify key points and how to access the information that they need to develop.

Effective learning is the crucial point.

Essential elements to learning.


Sometimes parents give young people too much support so that it makes them less independent.  We need to enable young people to get their basic needs supported but with the right balance so as to help them to learn.


Children with dyslexia need to have choice and to be able to get a greater sense of autonomy.
Young people with dyslexia learn more effectively when their tasks are active.  When action is involved it helps the brain to 'wake up' and address the tasks at hand.

When young people are told to sit down and shut up in class this is exactly the kind of environment that is counterintuitive to learning.  Young people need to move around and talk about ideas.

Achievable Tasks

All tasks given to dyslexic learners must be achievable otherwise this develops a sense of 'learned helplessness' so as to prevent a failure mindset.
Teachers need to think about the tasks given to young people regardless of whether they are dyslexic or not!

SpLD Central Delegates listening to Dr Gavin Reid.  25% more delegates than last year!

Dr Reid lead a discussion on what makes learning effective in schools.

Feedback from the discussion...

Young people need a challenge!

Have a calm working environment. Gavin totally agrees that this type of environment takes away stress for young people with dyslexia.  You can spot schools that achieve this just by walking into a school.  You can feel that environment.

Having an 'I can do' attitude helps young people to believe in themselves.

Dr Reid continues...

This afternoon, Dr Reid will do a workshop on learning how to learn.

We need to look as dyslexia as being very individual.  Lets look at the individual learner and their needs.

Assessments are not diagnosing, they are developing a learning profile.

Assessments should be dynamic.  Most tests are very static.  You need to look at a how a young person learns.

Intervention should be educational.  If there is going to be any difference to the way that the dyslexic learner is going to improve as a learner, then they need to do this in a classroom.  There needs to be a direct application to learning.

There is no miracle cure for dyslexia, but there should be a miracle cure to poor teaching.

Our knowledge of dyslexia should be developed from the scientific research available.
Some years ago there were strange theories on how dyslexia works with training courses being available to 'cure' dyslexic tendencies!
We now have a scientific basis for dyslexia, with MRI brainscans showing the the condition and genetic evidence.
Download today. Click here.

10:10 - Dyslexic people use the right side of their brains more.

Right brained thinking causes great comprehension but with more mistakes whereas left brained thinking is accurate with data.

We need to learn how to use the skills from right brained thinking.

The speed of the curriculum in schools today make it difficult for dyslexic learners to keep up.  There is an expectation from schools that cause a barrier to learning for dyslexics.

We know that young people with dyslexia struggle with memory and remembering facts , so in school give them the tools that they need to find the information.
Teaching them how to respond to questions is useful.
Teachers need to allow time for dyslexic learners to learn.  There is a reactive approach mostly in schools when there needs to be a proactive approach to learning and support.

Teachers need support in planning and organising resources to support dyslexics.  Help dyslexics to identify the key points that they need to contribute and answer questions.

Dyslexia is not a negative thing, it is simply a difference.  We need to see the difference.  Acknowledge it and work with those differences appropriately.

Currently there is a strong interest in the visual aspects of dyslexia as well as phonological processing.
The research is very robust with a strong focus on genetics.

Interestingly phonological processing is extremely common with dyslexia worldwide.

Dr Reid gave the following illustration on how dyslexic learners think in a classroom situation:

11:20 - Dr Gavin Reid - Keynote 2 - Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia and Attention Difficulties.

Aim - Identifying and overcoming barriers in the range of SpLDs than can overlap dyslexia.

Dr Reid is developing a 17 point assessment for SpLDs which includes the emotional side of living with an SpLD.

There is a real difficulty for teachers when supporting overlapping SpLDs but the reality is that they often present in similar ways and so there are a number of approaches that can be used for a lot of them. For example, reducing copying from the board, setting up a calm learning atmosphere.

ADHD is intriguing and in Dr Reid's school there are many ADHD sufferers.  A lot of the children can be distracted and confused as having ADHD and there is a spectrum for this condition.  Often presented as impulsive, lack of planning, easily distracted.
Making connections is important to consider with ADHD often the wrong connections can be made in the classroom which leads to thinking in the wrong direction.  There needs to be structure in activities that help the learner to think.  Crossbow Education have a great range of exercises that can help.

Dyspraxia is similar to ADHD in that there are difficulties in planning and coordination difficulties.
The key issue with Dyspraxia is fitting in.  If teachers can be more inclusive and self esteem developing then many of the issues of Dyspraxia can be dealt with.
There are issues with motor skills issues, speech and language, spatial awareness, attention/ concentration and fine motor skills.

Dysgraphia - Dr Reid is finding that more and more children have Dysgraphia.  It is presented with letter consistencies , mixture of upper cases and many other writing issues.

Dyscalculia - Issues - memorising multiplication tables, reversing numbers, losing place in long division etc.  Much of the problems are associated with the insistence to copy information down.

Many conditions can be influenced by laterality.  Are you left handed but kick with the right foot.  Which ear has a bias to listening as well as seeing.  Balancing exercises are fun to do but help.

A checklist for supporting children with ADHD.

The use of summarising and making predictions are so important for helping with these conditions.

Talking, drawing, listening skills and expressing emotions and feeling good.  This helps with learning when living with SpLDs.

Learning Styles - Multisensory Learning

Using a bottom up approach for dyslexics with language is useful.

A bottom up strategy for language experience.

Dr Reid talked through the Dunn and Dunn Learning Style Model.

The Dunn and Dunn Learning Style Model.

Georgina Smith

This afternoon I met with Georgina Smith who has written for this blog a couple of times.  Exhibiting here at SpLD Central I managed to have a few minutes to speak with her.

Georgina Smith discussing her dyslexia literacy programme , Code Breakers with delegates at SpLD Central.

Georgina what did you hope to gain from being at SpLD Central?

I wanted to highlight to educational professionals that literacy programmes available that are more appropriate to post 16 and secondary school students.

What are the benefits of those programmes Georgina?

They help to engage students and retain their interest in developing their literacy producing a successful outcome in building a student's educational outcomes.

Can you give me an example of a successful outcome?

Recently I have been working with a gentleman in employment in a technical profession.  He was struggling with auditory processing and this affected his work because he was required to take notes whilst working and found that his communication of information was severely lacking due to his dyslexic symptoms.

Together we worked with the Code Breakers program which allowed him to reflect on his knowledge and develop strategies to be able to bring his literacy skills to a point where his employment benefited greatly.
So now he has developed a confidence to apply for a place at University and to develop his study skills further.  We have planned together to develop those skills using appropriate software and resources.
Georgina can be contacted via her website by clicking here.