DfE Pilot: Accessible Resources Pilot Project - Dyslexia case study

According to a recent survey by BESA (the British Educational Suppliers Association), a staggering 88% of secondary school SENCOs suggested that staff at their school would benefit from additional Special Education Needs training.

For dyslexic students to get the best possible support, the whole school needs to be aware of SEN best practices. This 'whole school' approach requires buy-in from everyone from the headteacher to subject teachers, assistant teachers, ICT technicians, parents and critically from the students themselves.

In this case study, hear first hand from Inclusion Advisor Carol Allen as she discusses her experiences in the DfE 'Accessible Resources Pilot Project'. Having worked closely with dyslexic students in a school in the North Tyneside area, Carol explains the pilot's whole school approach and the groundbreaking findings.

DYSLEXIA CASE STUDY: Community College in North Tyneside

This case study shows what can be achieved with a 'whole school' approach and a strong champion. In the Community College, seven dyslexic pupils received laptops with assistive technologies and access to their learning materials as Microsoft Word documents.

The initiative was led within the school by the SENCO and supported externally by Carol Allen and Inclusive Technology as the training provider. Training was held with teachers including heads of departments, support staff as well as pupils and importantly included the school's IT Support team which was vital to ensuring successful implementation and application of the technology. This approach helped obtain 'buy-in' throughout the school.

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The results of the trial were generated through teacher assessments. These assessments were in response to the question:
"What level of change have you observed (over the last year) that can be directly attributed to the provision of technology to dyslexic pupils in this project?"

The results from the community college were outstanding:

  • 6 out of 7 pupils improved with their reading, 2 of them significantly
  • All pupils improved with their writing, 1 of them significantly
  • 6 out of 7 pupils improved their level of achievement, 2 of them significantly
  • 6 out of 7 improved their concentration, 2 of them significantly
  • 2 significantly improved their attendance
  • 3 improved their homework completion, 1 significantly

Significantly, there were no reported deteriorations in any category.

From the study, the Special Needs Teacher at the Community College made the following comments:

"The impact for the students was noticeable, with their reading and writing skills making marked progress. For two students, their attendance improved significantly; these students both have a Statement of Special Educational Needs and had had previous EWO (Education Welfare Officer) involvement for poor attendance.

The impact for the college was a raised awareness among all staff of alternative means for students accessing and recording; a high number of staff attended an initial training session delivered by the trial providers, and were keen to understand how they could help these students within their classrooms.

Personally, for myself, I relished the opportunity to witness a number of students who have encountered significant barriers to their learning become enthused and enamoured at the chance of achieving success on a par with their peers.

As a participant in the Accessibility Project Pilot, I took pleasure in observing the enthusiasm and progress that it afforded the 7 boys who were our identified cohort. I have now transferred as SENCO/Assistant Head-teacher to another school and have been able to identify other students who would undoubtedly benefit from access to the various tools afforded through the Dolphin software.

Students with dyslexia can often become disaffected and disengaged from their learning potential, however this software enables students to experience success and to become autonomous learners who do not have to rely upon the support of adults in order to read or produce their own written work. It is this factor, alongside my own personal experience of having watched the 7 boys flourish last year, that has motivated me to pilot the software into my new school setting. I strongly believe that this software should be available for all students who have a specific learning difficulty."