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Section 4: Planning provision

This section outlines why it is important to plan dyslexia support, preferably as a whole organisation approach, and how that support can improve outcomes and achievements for learners. There is some help for how you can start to think about planning support for learners with dyslexia in your organisation.  

Why do organisations need to be dyslexia-aware and dyslexia-friendly?

  • About 10 per cent of all learners will have dyslexia. About 4 per cent will be severely affected. (See Section 1).
  • In some sectors of the population, such as offenders and the long-term unemployed, learners may have had life chances limited by their dyslexia and the proportion of those with dyslexia will be higher.
  • Dyslexia can be the ‘hidden disability’; many learners, particularly older adults, will never have been identified.
  • Dyslexia affects outcomes; it can have a negative impact on performance and achievement as well as severely affecting confidence and self-esteem.
  • Learners with dyslexia will have strengths and talents that may not be recognised or utilised.

Too few young people with learning difficulties and / or disabilities progress from school to complete programmes of learning in post-16 settings which develop greater independence; lead to further study, supported or open employment; or provide skills for independent living."

Ofsted (2011)

There are excellent headline messages for organisations in Greater expectations: provision for learners with disabilities, (Adult Learning Inspectorate, 2006), together with some useful recommendations and resources.

Why do teachers and support staff need training to recognise and support dyslexic learners?

All teachers need an awareness of the indicators of dyslexia and dyscalculia and need to know how to respond when they recognise them.

A Framework for Understanding Dyslexia (2004)

A recent Ofsted report (Nov 2011) reviews the situation with regard to adult learners with a variety of learning difficulties and disabilities and provides a number of case studies about dyslexia provision that highlight the necessity for well-trained staff (paragraph 65) and the benefits to providers who invest in training for support staff (paragraph 68). For further information go to the Ofsted report section on this page.

Planning to support dyslexia


Starting points

See the Dyslexia self-assessment checklist for help to identify systems in your organisation.

The Whole Organisation Approach to literacy, language and numeracy (LLN) Framework Starter Pack, could also be used to help you think about ways of planning to make your provision dyslexia-friendly.

The guidance on assessment in Section 5 gives an overview of how thinking about dyslexia impacts on different stages in the learner’s journey. This should be used to inform your planning to support dyslexic learners. Much of the planning that needs to occur will involve training: cross-organisational awareness-raising; awareness-raising and training for support for non-specialists; and up-skilling of specialist teachers. You may also want to consider the following:

  • Check your assessment strategies to ensure that dyslexic learners are identified.
  • Confirm that your in-house diagnostic assessment approach includes assessments that will support the development of an appropriate ILP for learners who may be dyslexic.
  • Ensure that all teachers involved in ILP development know about the range of ‘reasonable adjustments’ and how these can be used to support particular learners.
  • Contact your awarding organisation(s) for support and advice about particular learners.
  • Confirm that all staff involved in teaching and supporting learners are aware of how to interpret and implement dyslexia-specific recommendations in ILPs.
  • Confirm that an appropriate range of dyslexia-specific resources, such as assistive technologies, is available and that staff and learners know how to use them.
  • Identify a dyslexia specialist who can support formal diagnostic assessment.

Use A Framework for Understanding Dyslexia (2004) for approaches and programmes used by specialists and resources about theories of dyslexia.

Work-based learning organisations 

There are specific issues for those teaching dyslexic learners in workplace settings, e.g. with time keeping; prioritisation of tasks; organisation; understanding instructions; remembering instructions and over-load of information which causes stress so it appears that the person cannot do the job.

For information about the barriers faced by dyslexic learners in the workplace and strategies to support them, go to the LSIS CPD materials Supporting dyslexic learners in different contexts which has a strand dedicated to supporting learners in workplace settings.

The Dyslexia Support Pack (Materials for Embedded Learning), (2007), contains explicit strategies so that staff can be made more aware of how much can be done to support dyslexic learners and how effective that support can be. It can be used in a variety of ways: alongside the embedded learning materials, as a standalone resource, as a reference pack, or as part of a training and support package.

Ofsted report (2011)

A mixed picture for learners needing extra support after 16 – case study approach

Messages and case studies to help providers plan and deliver dyslexia support for learners.

One case study describes dyslexia provision for apprentices with dyslexia when systems were in place and working well:

The member of staff met learners’ needs well. Her experience and training in dyslexia enabled her to present materials and tasks in ways that unobtrusively supported the learners with dyslexia.

The special educational needs and disability review, Ofsted 2010, Paragraph 65

One case study highlights the fact that:

learners are often missed in the education system and do not have their dyslexia identified early enough in their education. Learners not previously identified will need recognition, identification and support.

The special educational needs and disability review, Ofsted 2010, Paragraph 67

Providers investing in staff training and use of support staff find that the staff, once trained, become a valuable resource. Frequently they develop specialisms, such as dyslexia, and become a whole organisation resource.

The special educational needs and disability review, Ofsted 2010, Paragraph 68

There is one useful case study of a learner with dyslexia / specific learning difficulty who progressed from an Entry to Employment programme to an apprenticeship. However, the report offers evidence that:

learners with special educational needs do not achieve as well on apprenticeships as their peers.

The special educational needs and disability review, Ofsted 2010, Paragraph 94

  • Apprenticeships
  • The hidden disability
  • Staff training
  • Progression

See the full Ofsted report for further useful case studies and messages for developing provision.