Teacher / SENCo training for dyslexia in schools | Dyslexia UK

Teacher / SENCo training for dyslexia in schools

April 26, 2022 Keir Williams Comments Off

As parents, we assume that teacher’s have the specific knowledge, skills and training to support and support students with Special Educational Needs. However, as many parents have discovered, this assumption is not always correct. This blog post, written by an experienced school leader and SENCo who is also a dyslexia assessor, a general reflection on the current situation they have experienced within schools regarding Special Educational Need awareness, and support. If particularly focuses upon dyslexia.

SEN Training

Whilst teacher training school teachers only receive 1 or 2 days training on specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia. They are often provided with a brief over view of different educational needs and typical measures to support as well as general best practice teaching strategies. Further, ‘on-the-job’ training varies considerably on the school and the typical needs of the overall cohort of pupils. This means that teachers are often not best placed to know how to help your child improve their skills.


Every school is legally obligated to have a SENCo (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) who oversees the SEN provision across the school. Whilst many SENCos are very experienced teachers and have lots of knowledge around learning issues, they might not have much specific knowledge of your child’s learning capabilities, other than that from conversations with their teacher(s) and perhaps observing the child on occasion in class. In addition, without assessing a child using psychometric tests, the SENCo they will not have the actual detailed knowledge of your child’s specific strengths and weaknesses.

Dyslexia intervention within schools

As mentioned above. Teacher’s knowledge of the signs of dyslexia vary greatly. This means that pupils with this difficulty are often overlooked and their specific difficulties are not recognised. Typically, when a child is suspected as being dyslexic, the teacher will refer the child to the SENCo, who will run a dyslexia screener with the child.

Dyslexia screening can be a good place to start as these online programme can be carried out quickly and help to identify whether there is a risk of dyslexia. However, the screeners are not reliable and can sometimes miss people who are dyslexic. Likewise, screeners do not provide detailed analysis of a person’s strengths and areas of difficulty, neither do they provide a diagnosis of dyslexia.

Dyslexia Interventions

Typically, when a child is identified as struggling with reading or spelling, or is identified as possibly having dyslexia, school’s tend to make some assumptions about that child. Firstly, they frequently assume that the child has difficulty with phonics. This means that the child will be given more phonics teaching without knowing whether this is appropriate for them or not. Secondly many schools assume a dyslexic child will be great at learning visually (i.e. through their eyes), or kinaesthetically (via doing / touch). However, again without exploration, you don’t actually know if this is the case. Without a diagnostic assessment, that will explore and advise on a child’s strengths and difficulties, the intervention might be well meaning but not appropriate / required and means the child falls further behind their peers.

A key advantage of having recommendations written by a specialist assessor is that you know what help the school needs to provide for your child. This means that the meetings with the school SENCo can be much more effective.

Legal support

Another advantage of a formal assessment is that a dyslexia diagnosis is recognised as a disability under the Equality Act 2010. This means that schools have to provide appropriate help to your child so that they are not discriminated against. A dyslexia screener does not diagnose dyslexia and so does not provide this protection.

What to do if you suspect your child is dyslexic

Recently, many parents, having taught their child through lockdown, have realised that their child is struggling with aspect of their literacy. If you recognise that they may have some signs of dyslexia then the first thing you should do if bring your suspicions to the attention of your child’s teacher and SENCo. You may have to be extremely persistent to obtain help if your child is quite young but it is definitely worth pursuing the school in this respect.

Secondly, if you require further information or want to discuss your concerns with a specialist dyslexia assessor, please click here https://dyslexiauk.co.uk/contact-us

Further information on the assessment process can be found at:

– For information on the common traits of dyslexia go to: https://dyslexiauk.co.uk/dyslexia-blog/f/the-common-traits-of-dyslexia