Introduction

The Equality Act 2010 prevents unlawful discrimination relating to disability. Under the Act, a person is considered to be disabled if they have or have had a physical and/or mental impairment which has ‘a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’. Neurodiverse conditions (dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia etc) are covered by the Equality Act as they are ongoing conditions. Dyslexia is a combination of abilities and difficulties that affect the learning process in one or more of reading, spelling and writing. Accompanying weaknesses may be identified in areas of: speed of processing, short term memory, organisation, sequencing, spoken language and motor skills.

ECPT is aware that the manifestations of dyslexia can be many and varied as is the severity of the problem.  We recognise our responsibility to make anticipatory and reasonable adjustments to the provision of training and policies and procedures where appropriate and actively seek to widen the participation of all our trainees and enable them the same opportunity as their peers to demonstrate the achievement of learning outcomes.

Assessment of needs

As it is important that no trainee should be disadvantaged the applicant/trainee will have the opportunity to include any disability or neurodiverse condition on the training application form and these will be discussed at the interview stage of the application process.  Confidentiality will be maintained as far as is reasonable and consistent with ensuring the appropriate provision of effective support.

Applicants and trainees who have already been assessed as having dyslexia or other neurodiverse condition should provide a copy of their latest assessment or diagnosis on applying for training. This could be in the form of a letter or report from a suitably qualified medical professional such as an educational psychologist, GP or consultant.  It should be typed on headed paper, signed and dated, give the date of any diagnosis and details of the diagnosis, indicate that it has been or is expected to be a long-standing condition and state the likely impact on the trainee’s studies and give details.

During the application process recommendations for academic allowances in accordance with the individual’s learning profile will be agreed and a record will be made and passed to appropriate training staff/markers and included in . The Training & Educational Standards Committee may be involved in this process for advice or additional perspective.

Support and academic allowances

The ECPT Pastoral Support Officer provides advice and guidance on study skills such as essay structure and writing and is available to offer support with written assignment feedback.  

Other practical measures which are available to trainees with dyslexia or specific learning difficulties are:

  • Use of coloured paper or alternatives to white backgrounds to avoid glare for training materials and handouts
  • Special formatting of documents such as converting to PDFs for reading programmes
  • Electronic versions of training handouts (available on the Member’s area of the website)
  • Use of more readable fonts and larger fonts
  • Video tutorials on academic work

This is an indicative not exhaustive list of adjustments which may be arranged.

Additional time for written assignments

An extra week’s extension is automatically available to trainees with dyslexia for all written assignments. Where additional time is required for the completion of coursework assignments, this should be negotiated between the trainee and main trainer using the extension request form in course handbooks.

Assessment of academic learning outcomes

For the majority of trainees, assessment methods will be through observation of skills practice, oral presentations and written assignments. In a small number of cases where trainees are severely affected by dyslexia, the academic allowances above may not be sufficient to provide appropriate support.  It could therefore be necessary to consider alternative modes of assessment e.g. a viva voce (oral assessment) in addition to written work, where a trainee’s ability can be assessed differently.  Consideration of alternative forms of assessment is informed by both trainees need and the maintenance of academic standards/professional requirements.  A clear rationale will be agreed between the Centre Director and trainee in these circumstances.

Guidance for trainers and markers

Training staff should ensure that they have a general understanding of the learning implications for trainees with dyslexia and specific learning difficulties and when giving any feedback on written assignments that a sensitive approach be used at all times. Teaching and learning strategies should make the delivery of the course as inclusive as reasonably possible (e.g. videos, visual displays, course handouts in advance etc). Please see appendix at the end of this policy and also visit the British Dyslexia Association website at www.bdadyslexia.org.uk for more information.

During the marking of written assignments, no marks shall be deducted for spelling or grammar mistakes provided that the communication of the trainee’s ideas has not been impeded. Please see appendix for further guidance with the marking of written work.  It is the trainee’s responsibility to indicate that they have Dyslexia on the assignment front sheet on submission of work.

Resources

There is a growing range of software and resources to assist with academic study now available much of which is free. The following websites may be a good place to look:

diversityandability.com

eduapps.org/mystudybar/

Responsibility will lie with each trainee to inform ECPT of any learning difficulties they may have and how support may be provided.  ECPT will make reasonable attempts to accommodate this. 

This policy may be read in conjunction with ECPT Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Policy.

Last Reviewed:  July 2022


Appendix

Information about Dyslexia

Dyslexia can be described as a continuum of difficulties in learning to read, write and/or spell, which persist despite the provision of appropriate learning opportunities. These difficulties often do not reflect an individual’s cognitive abilities and may not be typical of performance in other areas.

The impact of dyslexia as a barrier to learning varies in degree according to the learning and teaching environment, as there are often associated difficulties such as:

  • auditory and /or visual processing of language-based information
  • phonological awareness
  • oral language skills and reading fluency
  • short-term and working memory
  • sequencing and directionality
  • number skills
  • organisational ability  

Dyslexia exists in all cultures and across the range of abilities and socio-economic backgrounds. It is a hereditary, life-long, neurodevelopmental condition.  Learners with dyslexia will benefit from early identification, appropriate intervention and targeted effective teaching, enabling them to become successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens.

Good Practice

(1) An appropriate balance of continuous assessment and examination should be arrived at. Examinations can make excessive demands on the short term and working memory, but too much continuous assessment might create a burden on time, as dyslexic trainees may take longer to produce their assignments.

(2) Where possible, copies of reading lists should be given in advance of each academic term in order to support planned reading and meeting assignment deadlines. Essential texts within reading lists should be highlighted, so they can be prioritised. Bibliographical references should be given as precisely as possible, so as to facilitate their being located.

(3) Cognitive overload should be avoided. Training content over-views and/or notes and PowerPoint presentations should be made available prior to training sessions. This will enable the trainee to gain an overview and create a framework to which they can attach new knowledge. It also assists with the processing of information and aids weak notetaking skills, caused by difficulties with short-term and working memory, reading and spelling.

(5) Care should be taken when marking the work of a trainee with dyslexia to concentrate on content and not penalise for poor spelling and grammar or poor sentence construction.  Any penalty applied during anonymous marking should be removed prior to the final mark being published.

(6)  Hand-outs produced in a sans serif font (e.g. Ariel, Verdana, Tahoma, Calibri) in a minimum of 12pt or 14pt with 1.5 spacing and lines left justified are recommended. Matt cream or off white paper can help to prevent glare.

(7)  The software that trainees use to ‘read’ texts will be specific to each student’s individual need. Ideally, materials should be created so that there is a structure which software can make sense of and can be readily converted to an alternative. The British Dyslexia Association suggests offering both the source Word files and derived PDF files, where possible. Use of heading styles in Word, tables of contents and pictures with accompanying text are standard practice for documents designed for both Visually Impaired and Dyslexic users. Software can identify the different elements of the document and, therefore, can be used to adapt the text to formats other than straight print.

Guiding Principles for the marking of written work of trainees with dyslexia

These guidelines should be seen as a levelling of the playing field rather than leniency. Marking the work of dyslexic trainees is in many ways no different from marking the work of other trainees but, since it is likely to take longer, these guidelines may be useful references.

The Effects of Dyslexia 

Dyslexia nearly always affects both speed and accuracy in reading and writing. It does not generally affect higher level language skills such as oral comprehension, and reading comprehension is only affected if the ability to decode text is seriously impaired. Most dyslexic trainees can be slow readers, and as accuracy is also affected they generally need to re-read texts more often than trainees who are not dyslexic.

Most trainees with dyslexia cannot produce written work as quickly as other trainees; they are likely to make more spelling errors even in word-processed work; their punctuation and grammar may be weak and they often omit, repeat or insert small function words or word endings in both reading and writing.

Dyslexic trainees typically find it very difficult to proof read and edit their work, as they lack awareness of detail in texts. They may submit assignments which look as if they have not been checked for inaccuracies. As a result of weakness in working memory they may have difficulty transcribing or copying, resulting in inaccuracy, which when numbers are involved may have serious implications.

Some Generalisations about dyslexic trainees’ performance when writing 

Some of these apply to trainees some of the time while others will not apply at all. Dyslexia affects individuals in very different ways; it is rarely the same for any two people. Trainees have different experiences of learning, their needs have been identified at different times in their learning careers, they have received differing amounts of support and they have developed different coping strategies.

1. Dyslexic trainees tend to think in a holistic, non-linear way i.e. a non-verbal way, which is difficult to convert into the linear nature of words.  Therefore, dyslexic trainees can use more time and mental energy to put ideas into words but may grasp the global picture very easily.

2. Dyslexic people usually have a strong perception of what they intend to write. They retain the mental image of the ideas they want to convey in spite of the actual way this is ultimately expressed in writing.  So there is an inability to see that their writing does not reflect their ideas. An inability to proof read their work. Mistakes in written work will not be identified or corrected.

3. Dyslexic trainees do not learn language skills subliminally. They cannot improve these skills through the process of error identification alone.   Detailed explanations of underlying spelling, grammar, punctuation and syntax rules are needed to develop language skills. Standard feedback normally provided is insufficient for the needs of most dyslexic trainees.

4. Dyslexic people may find it hard to ‘read between the lines’.   Dyslexic trainees need direct but positive comments e.g. “this was good because…”. Telling a dyslexic student not to do something without providing a reason can be completely useless.

5. A dyslexic person can find it difficult to present ideas in organised and structured formats e.g. essays, reports, examination scripts etc.  The principles of good presentation need to be taught. Samples and model answers for each format should be presented and explained. 

6. Technical mistakes in written English and poor presentation may mask the ideas and knowledge the trainee wishes to convey, which can be frustrating for the trainee and difficult for the marker.  When marking, look beyond the poor language skills for knowledge and ideas.

Typical mistakes made by dyslexic trainees 

•  bizarre or inconsistent spellings even of ‘common’ words e.g. said, what, when
•  incorrect use of homophones e.g. hear and here, there and their
•  omission or transposition of letters, syllables and words e.g. siad for said
•  poorly constructed sentences e.g. very long rambling sentences with no punctuation
•  tenses are used incorrectly and inconsistently
•  vocabulary is restricted or poor

Marking Aims 
• to mark work fairly, neither overcompensating nor penalising for dyslexic difficulties, mark for content and ideas only
• to disregard an individual’s dyslexic mistakes

A Brief Summary Of The Guidelines

• Read fast, looking for ideas, understanding and knowledge;
• Make constructive comments;
• Explain your comments in a straight-forward way;
• Write legibly and use good, clear language;
• Let the trainee know if you are marking just for ideas and understanding;
• Use coloured ink for marking (not red) if providing feedback in main body of written work 
• Be sensitive: many dyslexic trainees have been badly hurt by lack of understanding in the past