I have dyslexia and I have worked with students with a range of Specific Learning Differences (SpLD). I intend to blog about news items informed from a personal or historic angle. Today’s blog is more information on Specific Learning Differences inspired by the worrying story that the government is considering cutting DSA.

See excellent Guardian article on proposed cuts:


The British Dyslexia Associations (2015) argue that approximately 15% of people have a Specific Learning Difficulties that affects the way information is learned and processed.  This is includes Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia and ADHD. These conditions cause problems with information processing, memory, communication, literacy, organisation, concentration and/or social awareness.


‘Dyslexia affects the way information is processed, stored and retrieved’ (The British Dyslexia Associations, 2015). It can cause problems of memory, processing and organising information. It can also cause problems with aspects of literacy.

Dyslexia is ‘diagnosed’ by an Educational Psychologist and involves a detailed assessment of how well you perform various tasks. Whilst my overall IQ is around 115 and I score above 120 on many tasks, my score for others is only around 90. I utterly failed the spoonerism test. The particular areas I struggle with are my short-term processing memory (although my long-term memory is fine) and my ability to process spoken to written sounds.


Also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) it affects motor coordination in adults and children.


Dyscalculia affects the individual’s ability to understand and develop numeracy skills.


Signs of Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder includes inattentiveness, restlessness, and impulsiveness and unpredictable behaviour.

Further information can be found from the British Dyslexia Association on: http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/educator/what-are-specific-learning-difficulties

Sadly, The Dyslexia Association (2015) note that because Specific Learning Difficulties are not fully understood by some schools and consequentially many young people are not diagnosed whilst at school. My own diagnose came at the age of 26 whilst studying for my Masters.

We identify and diagnose many students at Sixth Form level (16-19 years old). Students can either be relieved to have an explanation for why they have struggled with specific aspects of their studies or they may worry about its impact on their future. Many are frustrated that is has not been identified at school.

As a teacher I reassure students that they are still capable of achieving whatever they set their minds towards. It may take additional effort to their peers but they will get there eventually and develop coping mechanism with time and effort.

I also encourage students to visit student services for additional support or assessments were appropriate. However, the funding for support available at FE is frustratingly limited. It is much better funded at HE, although, the Government is worryingly looking to cut much of this support from the DSA budget.

Embedding equality into education also includes ensuring we make reasonable adjustments when assessing individuals with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. Due to so much of the A-Level assessment being exam base it is essential all students have the right exam arrangements in place. Potentially students can apply for extra time, a laptop, their own room, rest breaks and exams printed colour paper.

I worry about the impact of the new A-levels in students with Specific Learning Differences. See my blog here for Labour Teachers:


However, if you have a recent diagnoses of a Specific Learning Difference do not be disheartened. Get all the help you can, read as much as you can and don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve what you wish. It will be hard work but you will get there eventually.

I was diagnosed whilst studying for my masters, I was also told that my diagnosed would usually led to advice not to History  study at University as I would struggle to cope with all the reading and writing. However, they also noted it didn’t seem to have stopped me…..

P.s this is repeatedly spell checked but one ‘joy’ of dyslexia is I may miss errors….:-/


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