Permission to act now

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In the last few years, a number of key Government initiatives have aligned in giving New Zealand permission to act now and address dyslexia. This started with the previous Government’s official recognition of dyslexia in 2007, and has developed through the new National Curriculum and self-managing schools environment – both giving schools permission to create solutions in order to realise potential and reduce problem areas. The self-managing schools environment also gives the freedom to direct funding resources to where they are needed.

On top of this, the Government’s Crusade on Literacy and Numeracy gives schools permission to prioritise the dyslexia agenda, while the Ministry of Education’s Teachers Resource: About Dyslexia not only gives permission to act, but is a key accountability document for improving educational outcomes in this area.

About Dyslexia is a real blueprint for action and reflects the Government’s major focus on transparency and assessment. It encourages schools (and parents) to proactively seek solutions around dyslexia and it requires schools to have an inclusive school policy which accommodates dyslexic students’ unique learning differences.

Overall, clear expectations have been set for schools to achieve better learning outcomes, in line with the increased accountability mandated by the Crusade for Literacy and Numeracy. In fact, one of the key priority areas for education is that “every child achieves the literacy and numeracy knowledge they need to succeed”. This means effective action in schools is more critical than ever.

Dyslexic students currently make up 30-50% of the estimated 20% of New Zealand students who are at the tail-end of poor literacy and numeracy results. So, unless dyslexia is at the forefront of thinking and action, it will be very difficult for schools to make progress. Conversely, the Dyslexia Foundation estimates that this long tail of poor literacy and numeracy results could be halved with best practice and appropriate classroom interventions – a win-win for everyone.

Key to better classroom action is the ‘notice and adjust’ strategy which is the underlying principle of the 4D Edge and the new teaching paradigm. This strategy is available to all teachers, regardless of the depth of their understanding of dyslexia and is very simple. It is also in tune with the foundation principles of the National Curriculum. It means noticing those children who are getting stuck and making reasonable adjustments in the way they are taught and assessed, including personalised learning and alternative evidence of achievement. Click here for more detail on classroom strategies and accommodations.

This strategy is also reflected in the Dyslexia Foundation’s revolutionary 4D | For Dyslexia programme which provides guidance on simple classroom changes to improve the learning environment. More on this can be found at the 4D website at and in the 4D Guide for Schools.

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