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What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is very common. It affects 1 in 10 people. It is a specific learning difficulty that primarily affects reading and writing skills. It often affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. However, it does not only affect these skills. Dyslexia is actually about information processing. Dyslexic children may struggle to process or remember information they see or hear, which can affect learning and the acquisition of literacy skills. It can also impact on other areas such as organisational skills and telling the time. Dyslexia is best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category, and there are no clear cut-off points.

The reversal of letters of letters or numbers is often cited as proof of dyslexia; however, whilst it is true that this may be seen in the writing of those with dyslexia, it is important to remember that it is a very common developmental trait in younger pupils.

How do we support children with literacy difficulties at Highgate Primary?

When a child or young person is not making expected progress in reading or writing, staff will carry out assessments to work out what the specific issue might be. These may be in areas including phonological awareness (the ability to recognise and work with sounds in spoken language), phonics, reading accuracy, reading fluency, reading comprehension, spelling and writing. They can then make appropriate adaptations to the curriculum and classroom environment and put interventions in place to target any areas of difficulty. Assessment is not a one-off event but happens over time, identifying strengths and areas of difficulty. Where appropriate, our school can request support from the Educational Psychology Service to help identify a child’s strengths and needs, inform intervention and monitor progress. This may be particularly appropriate if a child presents with complex needs.

We aim for all of our classrooms to be dyslexia-friendly: this means we routinely use a number of resources and strategies including reading rulers, ‘Dyslexie font’, vocabulary prompts and dyslexia-friendly dictionaries.  Our teachers are also aware of the potentially negative impact on a pupil’s self-esteem, and will work to overcome this.

Does my child need a diagnosis or ‘label’ of dyslexia?

It is not necessary to have a label or formal diagnosis in order for a child to access appropriate interventions in school. Having a label of dyslexia will not, in itself, affect the interventions available or give children access to special exam arrangements. For some children,understanding that their needs are on the dyslexia continuum can help them and their families understand why they find aspects of literacy difficult.

What can parents do to support their child?

The most important thing that parents can do is reading ‘to’ and ‘with’ their child and providing their child with access to a range of books e.g. audiobooks, e-readers with a text-to ­speech function and age appropriate, simpler texts(we have some available at school and public libraries also have them). Parents can also help with their child’s literacy development by supporting interventions put in place by the school, helping  their child practise skills ‘little and often’ and making it enjoyable. It is also important to remember that there are positives to thinking differently: many dyslexic people are highly creative, and have strengths in areas, such as design, problem solving and communication.

If you have any questions about dyslexia, please don’t hesitate to get in touch: or visit the British Dyslexia Association website for more information: