Dyslexia at HKS

“We want to see a time when…

Dyslexia is not a barrier to learning,”

Driver Youth Trust for literacy


Quality First Teaching at HKS means that each individual’s needs are accommodated, including pupils with a diagnosis of dyslexia or dyslexic traits.

Children with dyslexia can find school a real struggle if they are not supported correctly and sympathetically. With correct support, dyslexia becomes a gift where wonderful skills are developed allowing pupils to reach their potential. Successful businessman Richard Branson said,

“It is not a disadvantage; it is merely a different way of thinking. Once freed from archaic schooling practices and preconceptions, my mind opened up. Out in the real world, my dyslexia became my massive advantage: it helped me to think creatively and laterally, and see solutions where others saw problems.”

Hear more from Richard Branson here. To read his ‘hiring policy’ which focuses on skills and potential rather than qualifications, click here.

At HKS, we want all children to see dyslexia as their secret weapon while they are still at school and not have to wait until they leave to get the opportunities they need. Our bespoke curriculum and level of SEN support allows them to be happy and enjoy their school years.

What are the key elements that make us a dyslexia friendly school?


​Staff qualifications.

Every teacher and teaching assistant at HKS is level 2 qualified in dyslexia.
We are lucky enough (bucking the national trend) to have increasing numbers of learning support assistants boasting a Learning Support Department of 10: SENCo, Autism support teacher, ASD teaching assistant, TA support for PE/Games, ADHD teaching assistant and 5 learning support assistants. The Learning Support department attend regular CPD (training) sessions and share ideas and good practice at a weekly meeting.

The SENCo hold the National SENCo Award (NASENCo), a Level 5 PGCert in dyslexia with ATS (specialist dyslexia teacher) and is a Level 7 assessor.


Learning Support Base.

Children are supported in a number of ways by the Learning Support Department:

  1. Structured interventions, supervised by department staff in the dedicated Learning Support Base. HKS subscribes to a number of evidence based interventions to help pupils to bridge the gap between them and their peers or to aid their progress.

    1. IDL numeracy and literacy

    2. Touch typing

    3. Spelling tutor

    4. Nessy

  2. One to one sessions. (Dyslexia with SENCo, talking therapy/ASD with Autism Support, phonics/numeracy sessions with Learning Support Assistants.)

  3. Group sessions. (Face to face with Learning Support Assistants, this includes structured interventions as well as over-learning and pre-teaching.) 

Quality First Teaching AKA Non-negotiables in lessons


Do children with dyslexia copy large chunks off the board at HKS?

No. Children with dyslexia find it very difficult to transfer information from the board into their book as they have to concentrate so hard on the mechanics of the writing, thus not taking in any of the content. A pointless activity therefore and one that causes undue visual stress.

Instead of making children copy chunks off the board, teachers at HKS:

Provide powerpoint handouts/notes at the start of the lesson.
Allow pupils to use Learning Support Assistants as scribes.
Share relevant information in advance for those who use a laptop.


How do we make worksheets/on screen presentations dyslexia friendly?

  1. Dyslexia friendly fonts are used. The HKS-preferred font, used in all documentation, (including this one) is the dyslexia friendly Century Gothic. Many other fonts also work well.

  2. Worksheets do contain too much superfluous information.

  3. Paper/background used is coloured or buff – black print on a white background can be difficult for those with dyslexia.

  4. Text is left justified (fully justified text makes it too easy to lose one’s place when reading.)

  5. Numbers (as a priority) and also bullets help the pupil to find their place more easily.

  6. HKS is a Google School and pupils can use Google Drive to complete and share their work. Google docs has an in-built text reader add-on. Children with dyslexia are encouraged to listen to their texts as well as reading them. (More about this in assistive technology below)


Why is multi-sensory teaching so important at HKS?

Learners with dyslexia require multi-sensory teaching. In short, this means providing learning opportunities in a variety of different ways. This is standard practice at HKS with teachers regularly employing the use of technology, visual aids, practical equipment, role play, video clips, hands-on activities. All of these strategies enhance the learning capacity for all children and especially for those with dyslexia. At the point that a learner still does not manage to grasp a concept our experienced and excellent Learning Support Assistants or the class teacher will put an intervention in place to consolidate the learning. No child gets left behind at HKS.

How can a dyslexic child with poor working memory be helped?

Our experienced teachers create and deliver structured and cumulative programmes of study and are currently researching interleaving and retrieval practice, two techniques that support the idea of working toward automaticity, which is so important for learners with dyslexia.

The working memory is often something that is an issue for learners with dyslexia. To help to counteract this, HKS teachers ensure that children are given ample time to practise new concepts in lessons and for prep, using some online apps such as diagnostic questions in Maths, Educake in English and Quizlet in Modern Foreign Languages. Where appropriate, children are also given task management boards to break tasks down into smaller chunks.

Teachers make use of word walls and working walls, key word mats and activity timelines to remove the pressure put on the working memory.

Is there a way to help dyslexic children with slow processing?

Children with slow processing skills, which is often associated with dyslexia, often dread the idea of having to answer a question in class. At HKS we never put children with dyslexia on the spot. Instead subtle ways of keeping the child engaged without the pressure are employed.

  1. Think, pair, share. This technique is used to allow a child to rehearse their answer with a friend before having the pressure of answering.

  2. Delayed response. No-one is allowed to put their hand up for a certain amount of time (5 seconds?) to allow all pupils plenty of thinking time.

  3. Mini-whiteboards. All classes have a set of whiteboards to allow answers to be shown rather than spoken.

What is the HKS dyslexia toolkit?

  1. Assistive technology.

Arguably the best way to prepare SEND pupils for adulthood, is to give them the tools to become as independent as possible. We have a growing wealth of assistive technology at HKS and know how to make use of some very user-friendly freely available resources.

  1. By arrangement, pupils in Year 5 and upwards are able to bring their own laptop to school for use within lessons.

  2. Computers are provided for prep. (This is teacher-supervised in case support is needed.)

  3. Dictaphones are available to be borrowed from the Support Base.

  4. Reading pens are available. Some pupils choose to purchase their own reader pen to help them with unfamiliar words in class. Others prefer to ask a friend or member of staff. See what our SENCo said about reading pens here.

  5. It is important not to shy away from using spell checkers and grammar checkers. Some believe that this is cheating but here at HKS we are preparing children for adulthood and as such know that some children might always need to check their spellings and that identifying the correct spelling from a list is a skill in itself.

  6. Google suite – as mentioned above. This incorporates the following:

    1. Text to speech

    2. Speech to text

    3. Electronic mind-mapping

  7. Voice recorders for planning sentences before writing


  1. Coloured overlays available for those with visual disturbance.

  2. Coloured/buff paper for all sheets.

  3. Dyslexia friendly books in the school library, including hi-lo books (higher interest, lower reading age) and Barrington Stoke books for reluctant readers.

Exam Access Arrangements

Some access arrangements no longer require assessments for a learner to make use of them in examinations. They simply need to be the candidate’s normal way of working. These include:

  • Rest breaks

  • Reader

  • Use of word processor

  • Read aloud facility

  • Separate accommodation (e.g small room)

In addition, the following access arrangements can also be appropriate and are often considered for learners with dyslexia.

  • Scribe

  • 25% extra time

  • Prompt

  • Practical Assistant

  • Oral Language Modifier

It is not a requirement that a school have an onsite Exam Access Arrangements Assessor. At HKS, however, we are in the fortunate position of having a Level 7 qualified assessor meaning that pupils can be assessed in-house by someone who knows them well.

The chance to shine.

At HKS, we get to know all children really well in order to give them the chance to excel in school, even though they might find reading and writing more difficult than their peers.

Music lessons are a brilliant chance for a pupil with dyslexia to shine and we encourage all of our interested SEND pupils to take up an instrument, always with incredible success. As a small school, all pupils have a place on the sports’ field, children with dyslexia often shine brightly and enjoy success outside. Drama is another area where pupils with dyslexia often excel, those same children who struggle to retain information in class are often the ones who are first to learn their lines for the school play. The motivation, repetition and team work involved in rehearsals works really well for our learners with dyslexia. At HKS, every child is given the platform to find their unique talent and gift.


Useful links:

www.dyslexiaaction.org.uk The website contains really useful information for parents and carers including a reading list for reluctant readers. Local centres in the UK provide assessment and tutor facilities. All Dyslexia Action Centres offer free half-hour consultations as well as assessments, screenings, tuition and consultancy.

www.calibre.org.uk a lending library for audio books (£20 one off payment)

www.ipsea.org.uk The Independent Parental Special Education Advice, a registered charity that offers free and independent legal advice.

www.facebook.com/groups/dyslexiasupportUK/ A closed group that parents can request to join.


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