The HMIE document Education for learners with dyslexia notes that the majority of local authorities (mine included) used the British Psychological Society’s view of dyslexia:

Dyslexia is evident when accurate and fluent word reading and/or spelling develops very incompletely or with great difficulty. This focuses on literacy learning at the word level and implies that the problem is severe and persistent despite appropriate learning opportunities. It provides the basis for a staged process of assessment through teaching. (1999).

A supplementary point in East Lothian’s definition clarifies somewhat the ambiguous phrase, despite appropriate learning opportunities: Progress has been made only as a result of much additional effort and instruction, and difficulties have, nevertheless, persisted.

So, identifying whether or not a young person has dyslexia is an on-going process; determined as much by performance in class activities that are not dependent upon formal literacy skills and by strengths as through assessment of attainment in the components of acquiring literacy.

As HMIE write: children with dyslexia can demonstrate marked differences in terms of their competence in different areas, particularly in regard to oral versus text-based skills.

It is our job to provide a wide range of learning opportunities so we can ensure first and foremost that learners are developing knowledge, skills and understanding commensurate with their cognitive ability. Equally important is that we assess persistent problems so as to inform planning interventions and/or circumventions (e.g. though ICT); bearing in mind that difficulties can be on a continuum from very mild to severe.

We have not got it right but it was heartening to read the report and recognise that in East Lothian we are on the way to being dyslexia friendly authority. 

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