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Action and accountability in education - improving the learning enviroment for all

Dyslexia is a huge issue in this country, and its biggest challenge is self-esteem. New Zealand is at a crossroads in dealing with dyslexia and we have a choice between adopting a disability mentality and treating dyslexic individuals as part of a problem, or learning from mistakes other countries have made and embracing a solutions perspective.

As a problem, incorrectly addressed dyslexia can lead to disruptive classroom behaviour, alienation, anti-social behaviour, truancy, depression, suicide, drug use and crime. As a solution, dyslexia can become a key driver for creative thinking and produce the kind of innovation and entrepreneurship sorely needed in an increasingly ICT-led world, and in challenging economic times. You can read more about this at our 4D Edge website.

Importantly, dyslexia is one of the few causes of social dysfunction that can be easily addressed. And the costs of doing so are an investment that will return huge dividends. By prioritising and addressing dyslexia in schools we avoid flow on adult related costs – social services, criminal services, mental health services and so forth.

The 4D Schools programme is designed to help New Zealand educators put dyslexic children on the path to success by adopting a ‘notice and adjust’ teaching paradigm based on personalised or individualised learning. This approach is also at the foundation of the National Curriculum, which recognises that equity in education comes not through treating all students equally, but through recognising and accommodating difference within the classroom environment. And it is in tune with the self-managing schools environment, which offers schools the ability to direct resources to where they are most needed.

In terms of policy direction, recent Government initiatives backed by the National Curriculum and self - managing school enviroment have made it clear the ‘gates are open’ for dyslexia action in New Zealand schools. The Ministry of Education’s Teachers Resource: About Dyslexia was a key accountability document in this area. About Dyslexia encourages schools (and parents) to proactively seek dyslexia solutions and it requires schools to have an inclusive school policy which accommodates dyslexic students’ unique learning differences.

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. Unless dyslexia is at the forefront of thinking and action, it will therefore be very difficult for schools to make real progress. Schools that don’t act will be left behind and fail to deliver against Government expectations. DFNZ estimates the tail of poor literacy and numeracy results could be halved with best practice and appropriate classroom interventions as outlined in this 4D Guide – a good outcome for everyone.

Importantly, by getting it right for dyslexic students you can help other students too. This is through positive responses to individualised teaching, and through a less disruptive classroom environment and more teacher-time for all students. Dyslexia initiatives also help the teacher, with improvements in student engagement and behaviour meaning a stress is removed.


We have expanded 4D thinking to the home and the workplace, and great advice for parents, employers and employees can be accessed from our 4D webspace at


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