Virtual learning has been a challenge for every student during the pandemic. However, for dyslexic pupils the challenges have been heightened. Many have lost access to the life support for learning they received in school, while parents have also seen it firsthand their children’s learning difficulties and, in some cases, how far their peers were in comparison.
For this reason, now more than ever, parents with dyslexic children are looking for solutions to help their children reach their school potential. I have experienced this firsthand at my school, Moon Hall, which is a specialized school for dyslexics for pupils aged 7-16. Our waiting list for placements has grown exponentially at a rate of neither me nor the the school saw before.
More specialized facilities for greater national support for dyslexia
This growing waiting list highlights that the UK requires more specialized dyslexia facilities. Traditional schools are simply unable to meet the educational needs of all students. At the same time, we need to increase investment in assistive technologies to enhance independent learning experiences.
Traditional schools have processes in place to help students with learning difficulties. However, these usually come in the form of separate assistance functions where pupils leave the classroom to receive intervention from support staff. This is an ineffective process because pupils are marked as different from their peers, which can make them feel anxious and isolated. It is also counterproductive as these students lose classroom activities which means they are often catching up when they return and are not in control of their learning.
The power of assistive technologies for dyslexic pupils
Assistive technologies designed for dyslexic pupils have an important role to play in eliminating the need for additional support. This is better for the school and better for the student as they can take control of their learning while strengthening their confidence and skills.
For example, a new reading technology for pupils called OrCam Read allows students to instantly listen to any full page of printed or digital text that the device points to, anytime, anywhere within the school. OrCam Read means that educators can remove many of the challenges pupils face inside and outside the classroom. In an exam scenario, this type of technology really shines as students usually rely on in-person support such as a reader or scribe. By eliminating this need, teachers can eliminate the added stress of having to communicate with another person during exams.
Long-term investments in technology to improve outcomes for our young people
Dyslexic pupils had more obstacles to overcome than their disability. Covid-19 has highlighted how our education system can prevent some pupils from maximizing their potential. We need to invest in the facilities, infrastructure and technologies that enable learners with learning difficulties to learn independently and thrive. Specialized schools and innovative solutions are paving the way for this and, with the right support, we can create an education system that is inclusive and empowering every learner to be the best they can be.
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Overcoming barriers for pupils with reading difficulties
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