Creating school policies


 

Effective support for dyslexic students involves a whole school approach. This involves a journey towards making dyslexia-aware best practice a common practice, so that no child is left behind.

This approach is about replacing ‘one size fits all’ thinking with individualised learning based on recognising and understanding dyslexia as a learning preference. It involves a new teaching paradigm, designed to power up the creative 4D edge that comes when dyslexic students are given the opportunity to reach their potential.

This new teaching paradigm is based on a ‘notice and adjust’ classroom strategy – which notices issues and adjusts teaching accordingly. This is particularly appropriate to New Zealand education right now, given that the spirit, ethos and philosophy of the new National Curriculum recognises that equity in education comes not through treating all students equally, but through recognising and accommodating difference within the classroom environment. Click here for more great information on the ‘notice and adjust’ approach – with comprehensive resource information on classroom strategies and accommodations. You can also find out more on 4D at www.4d.org.nz/school.

Importantly, success at school shouldn’t depend on dyslexic students being lucky enough to be assigned a dyslexic-aware teacher: dyslexia-aware best practice should be a school-wide phenomenon, and the best way of achieving this is by having a specific school policy around dyslexia.

The Dyslexia Foundation’s revolutionary 4D | For Dyslexia programme specifies that producing a written policy statement on dyslexia is the first step to positive change. Over 500 New Zealand schools have joined the 4D programme and started this journey, which involves three key steps – producing a policy; outlining a strategy for classroom change; and implementation. This webpage provides useful guidance on the steps to creating a policy, and links to further downloadable resources which will help in formulating policy. 

  School policies and good practice

There are many policies that are required to help a self-managing school meet its statutory and non-statutory obligations to parents, pupils, and the wider community. Policies help to ensure that the school provides effective teaching and learning, management, and care of its pupils.

Although there are no hard and fast rules in producing policies it is important that the Principal, the teaching staff and the Board work together and that expertise within the school and wider community is sought to make the task less onerous.

The following broad areas should be discussed:

  • Key issues

  • Underlying principles

  • Who will be consulted

  • Process for consultation

  • Lead person

  • Timescales


  Formatting a policy

Following these discussions, the following format offers a clear and concise way of capturing the scope and process of your school dyslexia policy:

  • Purpose – A statement referring to the reason the policy is being produced

  • Consultation – This should include all the people who were consulted in the drawing up of this policy (this can also be useful when looking at reviewing a policy)

  • Links with other policies – Include any policies that may contain cross-referencing. This helps to ensure that policies do not contradict each other

  • Monitoring and Evaluation – this should indicate how frequently the policies are monitored, the method of evaluation and the lead committee/person. Neil MacKay has a useful method of monitoring and evaluating schools in the UK which may provide you with some help here. Click here to download his suggestions. Neil MacKay has some valuable ideas and methods - click here for the links.

  • Dates of Establishment, Implementation and Review

  Working with the National Curriculum

Your school’s 4D Dyslexia Policy provides an opportunity for your school to make a statement outlining how you will make provision for dyslexic learners according to the three key values of the New Zealand Curriculum:

  • Excellence

  • Innovation, enquiry and curiosity

  • Respect

Specifically, your policy should provide answers to the following questions:

How does the school ensure that provision for dyslexic students reflects the seven statements of the New Zealand Curriculum?
  • High expectation

  • Treaty of Waitangi

  • Cultural diversity

  • Inclusion

  • Learning to learn

  • Community cohesion

  • Coherence

In what ways are dyslexic learners empowered and supported to perform at ability appropriate levels within the five key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum, despite weaknesses with certain basic skills:
  • Thinking – becoming competent thinkers and problem solvers, reflecting on their own learning, drawing on personal experience and intuitions, ask questions and challenge the basis of assumptions and perceptions

  • Using language, symbols and texts – developing the ability to interpret and use words, numbers, images, movements, metaphor and technologies in a range of contexts

  • Managing self – becoming enterprising, resourceful, reliable and resilient, with self motivation and positive attitudes

  • Relating to others – developing the ability to listen actively, being open to new learning and working effectively together

  • Participating and contributing – participating in and contributing to the school and local community and demonstrating the confidence to participate within new contexts

 

To help your school create a 4D Dyslexia Policy against each of the five competencies, we’ve developed a table worksheet for you to record your school’s position and supporting evidence. This exercise may show certain gaps or situations which are at odds with the philosophy and mission of the school. In this case, it is appropriate to identify such issues as “working towards and/or aspirations”, ideally with a time bonded commitment. Click here to download the table worksheet.

  The 4D Policy Challenge

In addition to formulating a policy which reflects the key competencies of the National Curriculum, many 4D schools have also found it useful to challenge the status quo by asking themselves the following questions. These are also available in an easy-to-use table format, click here for this:

  • What is distinctive about the way your school meets the needs of dyslexic learners/those at risk from dyslexia?

  • How well do dyslexic learners/those with dyslexic type learning needs achieve?

  • How good are dyslexic learners/those with dyslexic type learning needs’ attitudes, values and personal development? 

  • How effective are teaching and learning for dyslexic learners/those with dyslexic type learning needs? 

  • What is the quality of the curriculum for dyslexic learners/those with dyslexic type learning needs?

  • How well does the school ensure equality of access and opportunity for dyslexic learners/those with dyslexic type learning needs?

  • How well are dyslexic learners/those with dyslexic type learning needs cared for, guided and supported?

  • How well does the school work in partnership with parents, other schools (transition) and the community to meet the needs of dyslexic learners/those with dyslexic type learning needs?

  • How effective is the leadership of the school in creating a “Dyslexia Aware” culture?

  • How effectively does the management of the school empower contact staff to meet the needs of dyslexic learners/those with dyslexic type learning needs?

  • How well is the school regarded by its dyslexic learners/those with dyslexic type learning needs and their parents/carers

  • In what ways does your Dyslexia Aware good practice impact on the learning of other students in the school?

  The Force Field Analysis

A further tool you can use to help raise the achievement of dyslexic learners is the Force Field analysis – a mode of analysis which allows you to lay out the changes required, while anticipating forces supporting/preventing those changes and the resulting strategies you’ll be using to implement them.

A worksheet to help you conduct a Force Field analysis at your school is available here.
  A sample of School Policies

As New Zealand schools create school policy around inclusion and dyslexia we will post samples here so as to help in your own process: Christchurch Primary School - Sample 1

 



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