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The 4D Schools programme - what's involved?

Important Update – 2014

Self Review

4D was originally designed as an Accreditation Programme whereby schools would access consultation to gain 4D certification as a Dyslexia Friendly school.

Self Review is an approach familiar with schools, and 4D has embraced this as the way forward.

Resources previously used by consultants are now available as new downloads. These will allow schools to implement changes without the accreditation process – and so becoming a Dyslexia Friendly 4D School has never been easier. DFNZ and 4D want to remove any barriers to effecting necessary change in our classrooms.

The 4D Schools programme is designed to ensure dyslexic students harness their potential whilst benefitting the whole class - this is what makes a truly Inclusive classroom. 

Check out the downloads section –
click here

Based on principles of empowerment, collaboration and change, the revolutionary 4D programme was designed in consultation with international dyslexia expert Neil Mackay. It provides access to a national and international framework of learnings, insights and advice which can both make life easier in the classroom for teachers and improve learning outcomes for students.

4D | For Dyslexia – which also stands for 4 Difference and 4 Diversity – extends the common perception of three dimensions to embrace a fourth dimension based on creativity. This fourth dimension is likened to a dyslexic or atypical way of thinking which can offer great creative gifts if addressed correctly.

The 4D Schools programme is designed to support new thinking on dyslexia in the Kiwi classroom, and help teachers take the simple steps necessary to ensure dyslexic students harness their potential. The most advanced resource in this area ever made available to New Zealand schools, the programme also offers significant benefits for teachers. When small changes to the classroom environment can create marked improvements in student engagement and behaviour, a teaching stress is removed.

The programme involves three key steps –

  1. Create a strategy for classroom and school-wide change using our self-review audit as a template / starting point;
  1. Produce a school policy in line with this; and communicate both strategy and policy to stakeholders
  1. Take school wide action – turning policy into practice. Our resources will assist. Share progress with Stakeholders throughout the process.

The 4D Schools programme revolves around a ‘notice and adjust’ teaching paradigm, with comprehensive guidance on noticing students who are having issues and adjusting the teaching to suit. It includes a comprehensive resource of simple classroom changes which fit with the expectations of the National Curriculum and will drive the kind of measurable progress mandated by the Government. You can read more about Neil Mackay and notice and adjust at our dedicated 4D Edge webspace.

The 4D process is driven by school leaders and is built on the ERO Self-Review Process which ensures that schools need only measure what is already required. Therefore huge improvements can be made without requiring significantly more time or resources. Many schools have started this process which we have now made much more accessible.

There are 3 levels of 4D:

Level 1 Schools (Basic):  These schools have a basic awareness of Dyslexia and intend to move forward to becoming 4D | Dyslexia Aware School by taking the 3 steps of strategy, policy, and action.

This intention needs to be shared with all stakeholders and the school is accountable to these stakeholders (students, parents, whanau, teachers, BOT’s, and community) not to DFNZ.

There are well over 500 schools already registered as a Level 1 school – click here to view them.

Level 2 Schools (Developing): This is a school that has gone through a Self- Review audit and has created a written strategy, policy, and action plan. They have begun to implement this, are monitoring progression and improvements, and can present evidence to its stakeholders on measurable progress against the Self-Review audit.

Level 3 School (Integrated): This is a school that has implemented its action plan and based on a fresh audit it can confidently present evidence on improvements which have led to Best Practice.  It’s a school which has integrated all the targets set.

4D Consultancy has created and provided a number of FREE downloadable resources to guide and support schools through their journey. Professional development is also available to aid this success but it is not a prerequisite. 

Each school determines its level and can publish this on their own website. We will also publish progress on our 4D School Website.  DFNZ must stress that each school ‘owns’ this process and determines their level. Their level will be reflected in practice and experienced by students. Parents will let schools know if they are succeeding.

If you have questions or need advice please email

Sarah Sharpe is exemplary in leading the charge with 4D visionary work. Sarah has worked in education since 1985 in the UK and New Zealand and is also Speld NZ qualified. Becoming a Dyslexia Specialist Tutor, at Kapiti College in 2008, she initiated and established neurodiverse-friendly practices at Kapiti College, which have gained nationwide recognition for their effectiveness in producing high levels of academic success. The overarching goal is to facilitate a whole school approach to teaching learners with dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia and dysgraphia. Sarah has presented at workshops, conferences and symposiums throughout the country as well as spearheading professional development for schools and colleges throughout the North Island. Together with her neurodiverse learners, Sarah produced a successful documentary, and hosted members of the Education and Science Select Committee. Close professional collaboration with organisations and experts, both in New Zealand and overseas, allows Sarah to keep abreast of current research and best practice. Sarah's work can be viewed at: Dyslexia: The Educational Revolution and Dyslexia: With The Students Of Kapiti College
If you have questions please contact on Email:, Mobile: 021 580 027, Web: 


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