Dyslexia Matters has just finished its first successful year working in partnership with The Dyslexia Centre, South Kensington. This was a new venture for us but we received a warm welcome from Jo Petty and her team and soon felt quite at home. 

As this was a new partnership we were a small, select group, but this did allow for lots of interesting questions - which got us putting our thinking caps on about how we could improve the course even more for our future candidates.

 As good practitioners, our team at Dyslexia Matters is always sharing ideas and expertise to improve the support we give to others, and we thought that it could only be a good thing if we could get our candidates to do the same. Following this cohort’s feedback, we have made some additions to our face to face course and have already had some positive feedback. In addition to the multisensory teaching we already do, we are now including short practical demonstrations showing how to turn theory into practice and will then get candidates to think about the activities they could make and use to support specific targets, sharing these with others on the course.

Lead assessor Julia Smith says: “As I write this I am aware that our first new cohort are beavering away thinking up and making activities to support SMART targets that they can share with each other when we next meet. I feel really excited by this, as do they and would therefore like to say a big ‘Thank you’ to Jo and her team, as I feel our partnership and the new venue enabled this to happen.”

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Liz and Julia were delighted to be invited to The Sheila Ferrari Dyslexia Centre Annual Awards Evening, held on 22nd June. 

The Sheila Ferrari Centre is a specialist tuition centre for learners with dyslexia, catering for 121 students from 50 different schools. 

The evening was a true celebration of endeavour. Each and every young person was acknowledged for their achievements, efforts and perseverance - whether they had just started on their journey at the Centre or were moving onto university. A group of more mature learners had been invited to become Ambassadors for people with dyslexia, and they were set to tackle this role admirably. 

It was therefore fitting that all the OCR candidates who have trained with Dyslexia Matters and The Sheila Ferrari Centre to become Specialist Teachers and Assessors were commended for their efforts and successes. 

Liz and Julia came away feeling very proud of their association with The Sheila Ferrari Centre, which thrives due to the inspiration of its founder, Sheila Ferrari, and all the hard work of the wonderful Head of Centre, Fay Cookson. Their pride extended to all the candidates who work so hard to complete their qualifications and make a significant impact on the lives of people with dyslexia.

We have just heard that Shelia Ferrari has passed away. 
The world will be a poorer place without her.

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Are you about to start the online level 5 course? We want you to have an amazing learning experience, so we’ve put together a few top tips to help you get the most out of it.

  1. Have a good look through your kit.  It may seem a little overwhelming at first!  Our course manager, Ellie, who has already introduced herself, is on the end of the phone or email and will be happy to answer any questions you may have: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 07467 948647. Do watch Ellie opening the kit box on the video and join in with her, as it really will help you understand what you have been sent. Then begin watching the rest of the videos and PowerPoints as soon as you can. Stick to the timeline and the step by step instructions – put key dates and deadlines in your diary.

  2. Activity 1 is an ongoing activity and forms part of your portfolio. It involves you getting quotes from your reading to provide a rationale for your learner questionnaires.  You can begin it straight away and add to it as you go along. We have supplied you with questionnaires that you will use for your Learner 1.  Your own questionnaires don’t need to be ready until you begin your assessments with Learner 2.

  3. Complete activity 2 onwards in the order that they are given in the step by step instructions and as set out on the online platform. These need to be sent in the post to the Activities’ Assessor you have been allocated.  It is okay to send a small batch in at a time rather than one at a time to save on postage.

  4. The activities are what you would have done during the face to face course and are for you to practise your skills before moving on to your portfolio work. They do all need to be completed and marked to help you with the production of your portfolio.

  5. Please try to stick to the timeline given as much as possible; it is there to support you to stay on track. If you do get behind, don’t bury your head in the sand - get in touch with us straight away.

  6. When you are working on your activities it is a good idea to start thinking about who your learners will be. You will need access to 2 students. Your teaching portfolio will consist of a total of 20 hours teaching time.  Learner 1 must be taught literacy only for either 12-14 hours over a minimum of six weeks, or 6-8 hours over a minimum of 4 weeks.  Learner 2 with be taught the remaining hours with both literacy and numeracy (between 25-50% numeracy.) You will need to work with two learners from two consecutive key stages, or two adults (provided they have as different needs as possible). You can work with a key stage 5 student and an adult. 

  7. When you reach activity 13, you will notice on your timeline that this is the point that your activities and your portfolio work begin to overlap.  You will be allocated a Portfolio Assessor who will mark all your P (portfolio) work, while the Activities’ Assessor will continue marking your activities.  This is the time to find your blue portfolio sheet.  You will need to follow this exactly throughout all your portfolio work and it must be followed thoroughly in the order it is written.  There are also clearly marked points in which you need to stop and await assessor feedback before continuing.

  8. It is realistic for you to begin the actual teaching of your learners around two months into the course.

  9. The Dyslexia Matters team pride ourselves on being very approachable, kind and patient, so if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch and we will be happy to help.

  10. We hope you enjoy your Level 5 course and welcome you on your journey to becoming a Specialist Teacher!

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It’s the summer holidays, and despite the awful August weather we are all enjoying a break and some quality time with our friends and families – and we hope you are too!

We have had a very busy summer as we have completed the first phase of working with academics at Bedfordshire University. We are now in a position to move forward to the next phase, which includes the development of new courses. We were really delighted to receive useful feedback from SENCos and previous candidates - the information they have provided has been invaluable.

Talking of candidates, we’ve seen lots of people sign up for our online Level 5 course so it looks like plenty of you are using the summer break to start your journey towards becoming a Specialist Teacher! With that in mind, we have put together a series of tips to help you get the most out of the course – click here to read them

On the subject of courses, Liz and Julia are very excited about the possibility of opening a new delivery venue in partnership with a well-respected specialist school in Surrey. Watch this space for more news!

Finally, we had our EQA visit before the end of term and it was a resounding success! Thank you to everyone who was involved. We’ll share some of the highlights of the report in our September newsletter, so keep an eye out for it. It is wonderful to know we are in touch with so many of our valued colleagues, including current and former candidates, through this regular email!

And thank you for all your good wishes and congratulatory emails regarding the safe arrival of Liz’s grandson Isaac - his smiles are a source of immense joy to Liz and her family!

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, enjoy the holidays!

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Some months ago, we mentioned in our newsletter that we had been invited to be part of the BBO (Building Better Opportunities) lottery funded project, providing 1.1 support to adults with mental health difficulties. The programme, which was based in Biggleswade, began in February with 10 candidates who each received up to 20 hours 1.1 support from a Specialist Teacher.

At the start of the programme each candidate had an initial assessment and were given individual targets and a tailored, personal programme.  Targets included things like:

  • To recognise at least three strengths that I have
  • To go for a walk or try something new for at least 30 minutes daily
  • To read and write 30 CVC words with 80% accuracy
  • To attend 80% of the sessions on my own
  • To learn a relaxation technique and to have this on my phone so that I can use it when required to help to control my panic attacks
  • To complete an application form using a template on at least three occasions
  • To send an email using correct grammar and punctuation
  • To improve my interview skills
  • To complete a daily habits sheet and to recognise and monitor my own progress with this throughout the course
  • To take part in an activity outside the course to promote my well-being
  • To work through a spelling programme to bridge the gaps in my knowledge

The course was a huge success with three of the candidates gaining employment and everyone saying they would recommend the course and would continue if there was a chance to do so. We received some lovely feedback, such as:

I had a lovely time on the course.  I know it was voluntary but I made the effort in attending nearly all of the sessions. I achieved what I wanted to do updating my CV plus setting myself a new challenge of reaching my own personal targets.  The help and support from Ellie and Jacqui was rewarding plus they made me feel appreciated at every session.  We had a laugh and joke to break the ice but discussing certain issues what I want to be sorted out helped me a lot.   My experience was fulfilling and made me feel good inside.  If I had the chance to do this course again, I would not hesitate. 

I think this course was really good because it was friendly and I can read better now.  I can spell better too. I feel a lot happier and am more confident. I wish it could carry on because it is helping me.  I like it because it is not a group. 

I found the course helpful as it gave me the opportunity to talk to someone when I had no-one.  I felt the course was too short as I have only just relaxed enough to feel comfortable.  I will feel a bit lost now it has ended, but I feel it has made a positive difference. 

I was happy to get the support from Co-Operation Matters.  It was available at a good time when I was looking for work, but not feeling good about my spelling.  They used a combination of interesting techniques to help me remember spelling and explained different patterns in words. 

I have enjoyed my time on the course.  The tutors were very helpful towards the needs I require.  I have reached some of my goals in going forward.  It has been a big help to my mental health to be able to continue the course as it gives me great comfort and a purpose and a goal each week. 

I have really enjoyed attending the  BBO course.  It has helped me a lot with how I feel about dealing with everyday things. Also helping me regarding looking for work- jobsearch, cover letters, application forms interview skills etc.  I always feel comfortable and able to talk about what is worrying me as Ellie and Jacqui are lovely and friendly and have helped me a lot.  It is a course I would recommend to anyone who feels stressed or depressed. 

I have enjoyed this course a lot and have learnt new things like interview skills.  I feel more confident than when I started.  It is really friendly. 

The course was really good.  Thank you both for helping me to see my strengths and to go for the Homebase job.

Naturally, we are all delighted with the results.  Co-operation Matters is all about being there to inspire and support adults to enable them to make their lives richer and we feel we have made a good start with this.  In September, we will be running another course in Bedford for four adults with mental health difficulties and we are looking forward to that.

“…I am impressed by the standard of delivery on this course and am inspired to continue my research”. OCR Student