When studying for my PG Dip. SEN way back in 1991, I visited Lendrick Muir, an expensive private school for learners with dyslexia whose main population was paid for by local authorities. I was shocked at the condition of the property – torn carpets, old fashioned electric fires with fraying wires, bitterly cold wind ruffling the faded curtains at the windows of what had once been a rather lovely old house.

Most astonishing was the education on offer. I expected active, experiential learning – pedagogy recommended for learners with dyslexia way before the mainstream took it on board. There were 29 young people most of whom boarded; 28 of them boys.  The P4 group (all 3 of them) were working on place value from the same text book as their contemporaries in the schools from which they had come – but with NO materials: tens and units all to be worked out in their heads. The S1/2 Science class had studied yeast the previous lesson and were now moving on to the next section in the text book. The 5 students stumbled through a reading of the text book and answered the questions as best they could.

I was reminded of this shocking example of bad pedagogy while in a P3 class recently. The class were studying Food and had baked bread. The smell wafted through the whole school and our mouths watered as we watched the bread emerge from the tin, having observed how the dough had risen and transformed into something recognisable. This is how it should be done.

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