While many schools offer some support through a dyslexia ‘unit’, there are very few which provide a dedicated ‘holistic’ approach to helping dyslexic pupils in the way that we do at Moon Hall.
We admit many pupils who have had the benefit of additional support in a mainstream school but who have still not been able to realise their full potential. We teach our pupils how to decode accurately and give them the extra time and support they need in all classes to enable them to record their work without stress and to achieve their full potential. This can only be done in a specialist school that focuses on the expert teaching that dyslexic pupils need in all their classes in order to make the maximum possible improvement in literacy and numeracy, while having a good rounded education.
This has a number of benefits for the children:
- All of the teachers in the school understand their needs as dyslexic children, not only those who teach English and Maths. Classes are split into smaller teaching groups for English, Maths and other subjects as appropriate and specialist support is provided with trained class room assistants or team teachers in most classes.
- Pupils are rarely removed from their normal class for special help since that help is available within the class. They do not miss out on parts of the curriculum being taught. Some children benefit from a curriculum in English and/or Maths which gives them the opportunity to move at a pace which enables them to consolidate their learning, whilst others benefit from an accelerated curriculum. We aim to match the curriculum to the child not the child to the curriculum.
- There is no differentiation within the school between dyslexic children and those who are not. As a consequence, the feelings of underachievement and lack of self-esteem which so often affect dyslexic children in ordinary mainstream schools, however hard
those schools try to minimise this, are removed. They are then free to work in a safe and supportive environment to regain confidence and to come to enjoy the experience of learning. We endeavour to develop a safe environment where all pupils are accepted for themselves and dyslexia is a reason not an excuse.
Many dyslexic children have lower working memory abilities than average. This does not affect their natural intelligence, which can still be average or higher than average or their other talents, but it does mean they have to put more effort into thinking and retaining information in class and need more time than their non-dyslexic peers when working together in a class. This is why most dyslexic pupils:
- Get more tired than their non-dyslexic peers when making a mental effort.
- Have difficulty following oral instructions that consist of several pieces of information.
- Have difficulty remembering the order of sounds, letters and ideas when reading, writing and spelling.
As dyslexic children can get very tired mentally after academic lessons, the school day is organised with English and Maths in the mornings so far as possible and more creative lessons and sports in the afternoons. Homework is mostly done during school hours in prep sessions. We prefer evenings to be available for outside activities and the sports at which many of our children excel. We encourage the pupils to find their talents, since finding what they are good at is often the key to their future.
The support we provide can become more important as children move towards their GCSE exams. Many intelligent dyslexic children have an excellent oral vocabulary and show an ability to understand what they read which is well advanced compared to their ability to read out the difficult individual words in that text. This is because their natural intelligence has enabled them to make correct inferences from the context of what they are reading. However, this ability will become more problematic as vocabulary becomes more complex and careful reading of the text imperative to understand the right inference and answer complex questions. Many pupils need to continue to have good phonological support throughout their time in school in order to improve their decoding skills. We are able to offer that in every English class and throughout the whole curriculum.
We teach our GCSE subjects in a method that best supports the learning strategies of the individual pupil. We do this with small classes, extra time for literacy and numeracy, trained teachers and TA support and an adapted curriculum that allows us to gain the best possible grade for each student.
From September 2016, due to revisions to the Syllabus, every student, whatever their difficulties, will sit 5 core GCSE examinations in English Language, English Literature, Maths and Double Award Science. ICT will be an optional subject and we will be running an ICT work skills timetable alongside for those taking the ICT GCSE.We have been very pleased with pupils show initially unexpected talents in Art, Drama and Design Technology . We expect every pupil to leave with sufficient GCSE’s to get a place in college that matches their ambitions for a future career, to be articulate and to have the social skills needed for life and work.
Pastoral care is of particular importance in all that we do. Many of our pupils have been frustrated in their previous educational environment by being unable to achieve their potential. We take the time to help them to understand why, to learn the skills and strategies they need as well as to deal with the other frustrations and issues that all children encounter in growing up.
We are very pleased that our last full Inspection Report in 2012 recognised that what we were doing and achieving was “excellent” in all aspects of our work.