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The Archies and the Craigs

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by JulesDaulby, Oct 22, 2016.

  1. JulesDaulby

    JulesDaulby Occasional commenter

    I recently attended an expert advisory group on literacy and SEND at The Driver Youth Trust, a charity set up by Sarah Driver. She has four children; three of whom have dyslexia and one severely. You can find out more about The Driver Youth Trust and their Drive for Literacy programme for schools here:


    Referring to Sarah's son; supporting 'the Archies' of the classroom is what drives the trust. Those children who struggle to read and write. I know these children too and one student who I taught in FE college with severe dyslexia had a profound effect on me: his name was Craig. So this thread is for the Archies and the Craigs in our education system.

    Sarah said something in the meeting which resonated. Her son, Archie, liked to have lots of example questions on separate sheets of paper which he could work through methodically.

    I was reminded of my partner's experience where he once taught an 'Archie' and managed to get this student (fundamentally challenged by dyslexia) to show what he was capable of achieving.

    Jonny blew up this student's exam paper into large font on salmon paper. He printed on one side so 'Archie' didn't need to turn the exam over and spread the sheets out from left to right along three tables. My partner provided paper on the right and all the stationery (including post-its and highlighters) the student required. There were no distractions; all 'Archie' had to concentrate on was the exam. The big picture in front of him, no turning over the paper so he'd forget what's on the other side, the ability to walk along the table drawing arrows and making notes between the paper. The student also had the usual exam access arrangements; extra time, reader and scribe but with these other allowances, he not only got the best grade so far on the course but the highest mark among his peers.

    My 'Craig' did not require such arrangements but he used speech recognition to write his essays. Despite being unable to read and write well, he got top marks in everything he did and after leaving FE, went on to university and should soon graduate with a First Class degree.

    I have a student in school at the moment who has asked for one question at a time for his GCSEs - the entire paper sends him into such a panic he cannot function.

    These 'Archies and Craigs' need support with their literacy, absolutely, however at some stage (and perhaps earlier than is often recognised) other adjustments should be considered. Phonics combined with text-to-speech technology for example or handwriting lessons alongside touch typing classes. It's not an either, or binary decision but an interlinked support package which will help them achieve to their fullest ability without the barriers dyslexia presents.

    This video called Top 10 tips will be a start to get you thinking about how best to support students with poor literacy in your classroom.

    I particularly like the positive marking idea. I'd love to hear what other successes teachers or TAs have had.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016
    rosiecg likes this.
  2. rosiecg

    rosiecg Occasional commenter

    I teach in a special school with pupils who have severe to profound learning difficulties as well as physical and sensory impairments. When we are assessing for literacy (using the P scales usually ) we have learnt to be very creative.

    We ensure every pupil has access to a range of symbols, pictures, written words etc so they can find and use whatever is most accessible to them. We use ipads, eye gaze technology, speech to text technology, scribes...

    Thinking around the problem has provided us with a huge amount of shared resources that enable our pupils to be confident to write their name, ask for help, and read for pleasure.

    I love that we as educators care enough about our pupils, be they dyslexic, PMLD, neurotypical, to strive for every pupil to reach their own potential. Go us, and go them!
    JulesDaulby likes this.
  3. JulesDaulby

    JulesDaulby Occasional commenter

    That's such a brilliant comment, thank you.

    Mainstream can learn so much from specialist schools.

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