Making Sense Programme: final report

Report detailing the work undertaken by the Making Sense Working Group to support the implementation of these recommendations through the Making Sense: Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice Programme 2014 to 2019.

2014 Making Sense Report Recommendations

Supporting the implementation of the five interlinking recommendations and additional achievements within the project was made possible through the positive collaborative partnerships within the Making Sense Working Group and all the stakeholders. The Making Sense Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice programme was funded by the Scottish Government and Education Scotland with strong support from Dyslexia Scotland. The programme implementation was led by a Scottish Government and Education Scotland jointly funded National Development Officer for Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice.

This report provides details of the developments and ongoing progress under each of the recommendations, some of which interlink with one another. Where there is a direct link the icon below will be shown and will include the relevant recommendation numbers.

This image has no text. It represents the link between the reports 5 recommendations. The recommendation number is in the left box which is Teal in colour and the green overlapping box is for the recommendation numbers it links to.

Recommendation 1

This image represents the link between recommendation 1 and recommendations 2,3,4 and 5.

1. Teachers, support staff, learners and parents should have access to up-to-date practical advice and guidance on dyslexia:

1.1 Local authority websites, including guidance for parents, must contain information and contact details relating to provision for children and young people with additional support needs, including those with dyslexia, in line with responsibilities under section 26 of the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended).


Guidance [Appendix A] has been made available to all 32 local authorities. Included within this guidance is a checklist which is intended to support local authorities in the development and updating of their websites, to ensure that they include appropriate guidance, information and contact details relating to provision for children and young people with dyslexia. This checklist could be adapted by local authorities to ensure their websites also have navigation paths for users to access information relating to provision for children and young people who require additional support. This guidance is available on the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit.

1.2 Local authorities should ensure that teachers have access to Dyslexia Practice Guidelines, linked to their literacy strategy.


Links to the 2010 National Literacy Strategy were within the 2014 review. Since the publication of the review and recommendations the national focus on supporting literacy has continued to be developed. Local authorities and schools now make use of a range of national resources and guidance to support their literacy strategies, examples of which can be found in the [Annex B]. The Making Sense Programme focused on supporting schools and local authorities to embed approaches which support dyslexia and literacy difficulties within their literacy and wider inclusion strategies with the aim of supporting all learners.

  • The National Development Officer, working collaboratively with Dyslexia Scotland and partners, has supported local authorities to develop their policies, approaches and professional learning on dyslexia and inclusive practice through, for example:
  • advising and supporting local authority planning meetings
  • liaising with literacy officers within Education Scotland and local authorities
  • providing advice and information which continues to be shared at professional learning events and during discussions with local authorities and Regional Improvement Collaboratives (RICs)

1.3 Establishments should have a whole school approach to dyslexia as part of each school’s literacy strategy and inclusive practices, linked to staff professional learning opportunities.


The National Development Officer, working collaboratively with Dyslexia Scotland and partners, has supported local authorities to develop their policies, approaches and professional learning on dyslexia and inclusive practice, for example:

  • The Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit Working Group developed a range of resources including literacy resources, such as the literacy circles and downloadable Toolkit presentations, all freely available from the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit
  • The Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit Working Group members have developed and delivered an extensive range of professional learning
  • Information was shared with Education Scotland’s National Literacy team and with their network.
  • Information on dyslexia is available on Education Scotland’s

National Improvement Hub and on

National Literacy and Professional Learning Community and

National School Libraries within the GLOW Professional Learning Communities.

  • Three free online professional learning modules which were developed in collaboration with Education Scotland, the Scottish Government and the Open University OpenLearn Create have been published.

1.4 Dyslexia Scotland should work with local authorities and schools to encourage all teachers to be familiar with, and make appropriate use of, the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit (Toolkit).


The Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit is a free online resource developed to help teachers support children with dyslexia and literacy issues. The Toolkit is managed by Dyslexia Scotland, with financial support from the Scottish Government. An expert working group chaired by Education Scotland meets six times a year to maintain and update the Toolkit. This working group is made up of representatives from six different local authorities as well as from national agencies including CALL Scotland, the Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists, Education Scotland, the Scottish Government and Dyslexia Scotland. The local authorities represented on the group share experiences and good practice from their areas, in order to encourage practitioners, establishments and local authorities to make good use of the Toolkit as a live resource that they regularly consult, to help address dyslexia. The working group representatives also play a large part in disseminating the Toolkit within and beyond their own establishments and local authorities.


The Toolkit was first launched in 2010; overall, the feedback from practitioners using the earlier versions of the resource was positive, as the Toolkit had a wealth of helpful advice, tools and strategies. However, many practitioners reported that the Toolkit website was so large that it was hard to find information quickly and easily. In response to this feedback and the recommendation in the Making Sense report, the website was refreshed with substantial changes and improved structure to encourage more practitioners to use it. These changes included:

  • Improving the navigational experience for practitioners
  • Increasing access to the Toolkit on a range of digital devices such as mobile phones and tablets
  • Provision of professional learning opportunities

Toolkit Refresh and Launch 8th March 2017

The Toolkit was refreshed and jointly launched by John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills and Sir Jackie Stewart, OBE, President of Dyslexia Scotland. Over 70 people from local authorities, schools and universities attended the launch. In this short video, at the launch, Sir Jackie, who is dyslexic, explains why he believes tackling dyslexia is so important:

Dyslexia Scotland, working with the National Development Officer and partners, organised and participated in a wide range of information sharing, and professional learning events and opportunities to promote the refreshed Toolkit and support practitioners to maximise their use of the free online resource.

The working group, managed by Dyslexia Scotland and chaired by Education Scotland, continues to develop and disseminate the Toolkit. The focus has been on building a positive culture, increased confidence and good, consistent practice among teachers in addressing dyslexia, linking into the implementation of the Making Sense report’s recommendations and Scotland’s education and legislative framework.

Feedback from launch event about the refreshed Toolkit

Feedback from launch event about the refreshed Toolkit

Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit Dissemination

The Making Sense report highlighted the expectation that schools and local authorities access the Toolkit. The Toolkit has been and continues to be promoted through a wide range of opportunities and events, some examples of which are highlighted below.

  • The Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit Working Group dissemination activities
  • Publication of three free online Dyslexia & Inclusive Practice professional learning modules which were developed in collaboration with Education Scotland, Scottish Government, Dyslexia Scotland and the Open University OpenLearn Create.
  • Dissemination of advice, guidance and resources such as the Toolkit and modules – including:
    • Masterclasses and professional learning events
    • Awareness raising at local authority link officer meetings
    • Awareness raising during professional learning sessions with local authority staff
    • Presentation at the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS) network (Support for learning)
    • Annual Dyslexia Scotland Education conference (workshops and keynote presentations), 2015 - 2019
    • Links on the Scottish Government and Education Scotland websites
    • Dyslexia Scotland Branch meetings and annual residential event
    • Workshops on Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice
    • GLOW – Toolkit tile
    • Articles in the Dyslexia Scotland magazine
  • Development of a probationer teacher pack is in progress for distribution in 2019/20. The Probationer’s pack aims to raise awareness amongst probationers about the Toolkit, modules and related resources. The pack will comprise of a printed bag containing the Toolkit leaflet, the identification pathway summary, information on the modules, resources, a credit card-shaped information card for ID badges and stationery.

Feedback from the 2017 Education Conference workshop on the refreshed Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit

Feedback from the 2017 Education Conference workshop on the refreshed Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit

Analytical statistics on Toolkit usage

The Toolkit website analytics data demonstrate an ongoing substantial increase of visitors to the site. The data are regularly reviewed and continue to influence further developments and revisions of the Toolkit.

The following statistics show the number of new and returning visitors to the Toolkit website since its refresh in March 2017, as well as the most popular pages viewed, and documents downloaded. The statistics show that there are still consistently high numbers of visitors who are new to the site as well as around 17% of users who return. The pages about the online modules are very popular (see Annex B), as are the pathway, the dyslexia definition and practical help such as strategies, forms and templates and resources. The data also indicate that events which highlight dyslexia, such as the Dyslexia Scotland Education conference, Dyslexia Awareness Week events in November, roadshows, conversation events and masterclasses, and Education Scotland’s Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice Round Table events encourage visits to the Toolkit.

Dates 1/4/17 – 31/3/18 1/4/18 – 31/3/19 1/4/19 – 31/12/19
(9 months)
Users 24,326 30,897 19,358
Sessions 31,160 36,839 26,186
% of New and Returning users 81% new
19% returning
84% new
16% returning
84% new
16% returning
Downloaded documents and Outbound links or clicks 45,911 54,003 37,738

Overall Top 5 pages since 2017 Overall Top 5 downloads (Documents) Overall Top 5 downloads (PDFs)
1. Identification forms/templates 1. Establishing Needs Form 1. Identification pathway
2. Online free modules 2. What to look for Checklist – levels 1 +2 2. Dyslexia pathway
3. Form and templates 3. Establishing Needs Form 3. Writing circle
4. Assessing and monitoring 4. Pupils Checklist 4. Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit flier
5. Strategies and resources 5. Definition planning tool 5. Reading circle

1.5 Education Scotland should produce national guidance for teachers on education for children and young people with dyslexia in the wider context of additional support needs.


  • In summer 2014 Education Scotland issued guidance in the form of an executive summary
  • The promotion of the working definition of dyslexia as outlined in the introduction has been a key feature throughout the programme.
  • A Dyslexia and inclusive practice landing page was developed on the Education Scotland National Improvement Hub on which guidance, professional learning and resources can be accessed.
  • A wide range of information has been shared with schools and local authorities to improve practitioners’ awareness of:
    • the Making Sense Review;
    • the Scottish working definition of dyslexia;
    • their understanding of dyslexia and inclusion; and
    • approaches set within the Scottish context to support inclusion and additional support needs.

Recommendation 2

This image represents the link between recommendation 2 and recommendations 1,3,4 and 5

2. Teachers, support staff and local authority staff should have access to a wide range of high-quality career-long professional learning opportunities at school, local and national level related to meeting the needs of children and young people with dyslexia.

2.1 Teachers should ensure that they develop their skills to be able to meet their responsibilities in relation to additional support needs in line with the GTCS standards and should consider applying for GTCS Professional Recognition for relevant continuing professional learning.

Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice Professional Recognition Pilot


With Scottish Government support, Education Scotland and Dyslexia Scotland provided free high-quality dyslexia and inclusive practice professional development for General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) registered teachers, set within the Scottish context. This was done through the series of masterclasses reported elsewhere (See Dissemination, Recommendation 1 for further information) and led by the National Development Officer with support from local authority practitioners.

A Professional Recognition Award pilot was developed in partnership with the GTCS, to deepen the knowledge of professionals willing to undertake three modules. At the time of writing this report, ten teachers from the pilot have achieved GTCS Professional Recognition Awards for their work in supporting Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice. In order to enable a cohort of teaching professionals in Scotland to be well equipped to identify and support learners with dyslexia, 30 participants were chosen from 85 applicants to take part in the GTCS/Dyslexia Scotland Professional Recognition Award pilot. This involved four free masterclass events from September 2017 – August 2018, and a Study Day in May 2019.

In order to gain the Professional Recognition Award participants undertook a practitioner enquiry. Practitioner enquiry is an investigation which considers a research question and is usually undertaken within the practitioner’s own practice or context. Sharing the findings with others can have an impact on practice and ultimately pupil experience.

With support from the pilot participants, the Scottish Government and Education Scotland, successful practitioner enquires will be summarised and published on the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit and the National Improvement Hub.

Dyslexia Scotland Professional Learning Award

In August 2018, the GTCS awarded Dyslexia Scotland the Professional Learning Award for Organisations Quality Mark for a three year period to recognise the work it does to support and promote teacher professional learning.

This Quality Mark assures the public that the organisation has been assessed through the GTCS’s independent quality assurance processes. The GTCS gave the award in recognition that,

‘the key features of high quality, effective professional learning in line with the Professional Learning Model and key features of Professional Update have been clearly demonstrated and are embedded into the principles of the programme design and the learning on offer’.

Further information on this professional learning quality mark is available on the General Teaching Council for Scotland website.

The range of professional learning that Dyslexia Scotland offers for educators in collaboration with a wide range of partners is in Dyslexia Scotland’s List of Top Ten Resources for teachers.

2.2 Local authorities should extend the range and quality of career-long professional learning related to meeting the needs of children and young people with dyslexia and make these available on a regular basis.


  • The Toolkit has downloadable professional learning resources which have been designed to support schools and local authorities provide collegiate and in-service sessions.
  • The masterclasses which supported the first module provided opportunities for local authorities to access the professional learning material for use in their settings.

Dyslexia Scotland Education Conference

This conference is attended by over 250 teaching practitioners each year, with a wide range of keynote speakers and workshops. Over the past five years the conference has included speaker and/or workshop input about the Making Sense Review, the Toolkit and three free online modules, the GTCS Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice pilot practitioner enquiry projects and the Ambassador outreach programme. Many of the workshops are run by practitioners from local authorities across Scotland.

Feedback from conference delegates

Feedback from conference delegates

2.3 Education Scotland should work with Dyslexia Scotland and other relevant stakeholders to develop a comprehensive dyslexia professional learning package which can be used by local authorities to increase the capacity of teachers to meet learning needs.


The Making Sense report recognised there were limited professional learning opportunities in dyslexia for teachers in Scotland which meant that many teachers were accessing learning in England. In response to this, the Making Sense Working Group identified the need for free professional learning resources set within the Scottish education context.

A writing group, with representatives from local authorities, led by Education Scotland and Dyslexia Scotland, developed and published a series of free professional learning resources, which included:

This professional learning resource was first published in 2015 and has been updated. It is designed to support learning about and understanding of dyslexia and inclusive practice. This resource links to the General Teaching Council for Scotland’s Professional Standards.

  • The Reading and Writing Circles – these literacy circles were developed to help teachers gain an understanding of how the literacy skills have developed for the child or young person with whom they are working. The circles can be used in primary and secondary sectors and may also be beneficial for children and young people for whom English is not their first language, as well as for adults. The circles provide:
    • Descriptions of the key areas involved in the acquisition of reading skills
    • A tool to identify areas of difficulty
    • Approaches and strategies for each key area
  • Three free online Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice professional learning modules developed in collaboration with Education Scotland, Scottish Government, Dyslexia Scotland and the Open University OpenLearn Create. The modules support the GTCS Professional Standards, Professional Update and Professional Recognition and are primarily for teachers, school management and GTCS registered local authority education officers. The modules need to be completed in order:
  • Module 1: ‘Introduction to Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice’
  • Module 2: 'Supporting Dyslexia, Inclusive Practice and Literacy'
  • Module 3: 'Dyslexia: Identification and Support'

The modules were disseminated and promoted through a series of workshops and masterclasses.

In 2017-18, in partnership with members of the Toolkit and Making Sense Working Groups, Dyslexia Scotland and Education Scotland delivered five free masterclass events in five cluster local authority areas – Edinburgh, Glasgow, Kilmarnock, Dundee and Inverness - inviting 100 delegates per event. The aim was to train 500 ‘early adopter’ teachers willing to train others in their local authority areas. The events, funded by the Scottish Government, set out to deepen teachers’ knowledge about the Toolkit, Module 1 and the reflective log. Two of these events were held on Saturdays and three on weekdays.

Further information on the masterclass events can be found in Annex C.

In addition to the masterclasses, at the 2018 Dyslexia Scotland Education Conference a workshop on ‘Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice: an update on the Making Sense Programme’ was provided and the online modules and practitioner enquiries were highlighted.

Module 1 of the online training modules gained national recognition when it was shortlisted for the Glasgow Herald’s Global Game Changers Awards under the category of ‘Collaboration for Change’.

Evidence from module surveys

Anyone who completes the Open Learn Create modules has the option of completing a survey about their experience through the Survey Monkey platform. See the table in the Annex C for an overview of the levels of satisfaction amongst those who had completed this survey by the end of July 2019. In addition, here are some comments about each module by some of those respondents.

Module one and two

Module three

Recommendation 3

This image represents the link between recommendation 3 and recommendations 1, and 2

3. Initial teacher education (ITE) and postgraduate awards and courses should give a high priority to developing knowledge and skills in relation to dyslexia and additional support needs.

3.1 The Scottish Teacher Education Committee (STEC) should continue to work with the Scottish Government, General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS), Education Scotland and all ITE institutions to ensure greater consistency of initial teacher education course content across Scotland in relation to dyslexia and additional support needs.


In 2007, the Scottish Teacher Education Committee (STEC) Inclusion Group, now the Scottish Council of Deans, with the support of the Scottish Government, established a working group on which there was representation from all of the (then) seven universities involved in initial teacher education to develop a National Framework for Inclusion to align with the GTCS Standards for Registration. The National Framework for Inclusion is underpinned by a rights-based perspective consistent with the ASL Act which ensures that children and young people with dyslexia and other additional support needs are recognised as fully participating members of the school community. It is designed to support teachers (and other professionals) in responding to individual differences between learners as well as to take steps to ensure that children with additional support needs such as dyslexia are not marginalised within the mainstream. In this way, the National Framework for Inclusion supports a consistent inclusive pedagogical approach to teacher education for inclusion nationally. The National Framework for Inclusion was launched in 2009 and revised in 2014 in response to an update of the Standards by the GTCS. (


Since 2007, the group, now known as the Scottish Universities Inclusion Group (SUIG) has met three times each academic year to review how course content is embedded in different programmes and ensure that consistent approaches to Initial Teacher Education are maintained. The Scottish Universities Inclusion Group is an established and dynamic group that seeks to ensure that the Framework is refreshed in line with GTCS updates. In 2018, a national study was launched to map the ways that the Framework is enacted across the university based providers of initial teacher education. Eight universities are participating in the study, which will assist in preparing course leaders to revise the Framework in support of the 2020 GTCS update. Through the activities of the group, new course leaders and programme directors are continuously inducted to the inclusive pedagogical approach promoted by the Framework and the Framework itself reflects current GTCS standards in Scotland.

Three of the ITE providers in Scotland confirmed engagement with the online professional learning modules in Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice. They encourage student engagement with the Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice online modules, in particular Module 1.

Another provider is interested in encouraging more engagement with Module 1 in the current academic year. There is further opportunity to raise awareness through the Scottish Universities Inclusion Group when the Making Sense Working Group, Scottish Government and Education Scotland representatives attend a meeting of the Scottish Universities Inclusion Group to promote the online modules.

The Toolkit working group members and Dyslexia Scotland Young Ambassadors and Trainers have presented at 8 seminars to over 560 ITE students in three universities to highlight the work of the Making Sense programme and the range of free resources available to them for their continuing professional learning and to help them support their future pupils. Some of these sessions have also highlighted the emotional and health and wellbeing aspects of dyslexia.

The ongoing collaboration of ITE providers aims to ensure greater consistency and coverage of the needs of students with Dyslexia and other additional support needs as the responsibility of all teachers.

3.2 STEC and GTCS should also work together to standardise the quality and content of postgraduate awards and courses relating to meeting additional support needs, where possible accrediting them with Professional Recognition.


The General Teaching Council for Scotland seeks to ensure that programmes of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) are professionally appropriate, demanding and prepare students for registration as a primary or secondary teacher. Additionally, the GTCS recognises the need for high-quality professional learning and development programmes to ensure that teacher professionalism is maintained and enhanced and that learning experiences are professionally recognised and valued.

Within the ITE accreditation documentation there are specific references to how programmes develop knowledge and skills in relation to additional support needs including dyslexia. For example, in the Evaluation Framework: Accreditation of Programmes of Initial Teacher Education in Scotland (September 2019), section 3.3 ‘Programme Design’ states that Initial Teacher Education providers should provide an outline of how a programme is developed and designed to,

“…promote equality and diversity and empowers students to adopt these principles. For example outline how additional support needs such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD); Autism; Developmental Coordination Disorder (Dyspraxia) (DCD); Dyslexia; and Tourette syndrome are addressed and how students are prepared to work with children experiencing trauma or who have had adverse childhood experiences”.

This Evaluation Framework is used as criteria to ensure consistency of content and quality across Scotland’s ITE programmes, expectations in relation to additional support needs have been influenced through effective partnership working including engagement with the Making Sense recommendations.

Professional Recognition is awarded to professional learning providers who offer programmes of study that lead to accomplished expert teachers in the area being studied.

As well as the Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice Professional Recognition Award the GTCS currently accredits Professional Recognition Awards to a number of programmes with a focus on additional support needs such as:

  • Literacy/Dyslexia Support Service, offered by City of Edinburgh Council
  • MEd Inclusion and Learners’ Support, offered by University of Dundee
  • MSc Inclusive Education, offered by University of Glasgow

Recommendation 4

This image represents the link between recommendation 4 and recommendations 1,2,3 and 5

4. Schools, local authorities and national partners should take action to improve the quality of educational outcomes for children and young people with dyslexia.

4.1 Schools and local authorities should improve their practices in identifying, planning and the range of approaches used to meet the needs of children and young people with dyslexia with a high priority given to early intervention.


  • Through the professional learning opportunities and engagement with schools and local authorities, a range of effective resources and approaches to support early identification of dyslexia and literacy difficulties was highlighted. This included:
    • Sections within the Toolkit which support a collaborative pathway for the holistic identification of dyslexia and literacy difficulties.
    • The Reading and Writing circles.
    • The National Development Officer, in collaboration with Dyslexia Scotland, worked with local authorities to support the development of their local policies and approaches.
    • The identification pathway is being extended and updated to provide further information and support for practitioners.
    • Films and resources about the importance of effective communication with parents/carers.
    • The Toolkit working group supported the Dyslexia Scotland Ambassador outreach programme funded by the Scottish Government. This aimed to raise awareness of dyslexia throughout the school. The pilot worked with primary school children, their families and teachers. Further information is available in 4.2.

4.2 Parents, children and young people should be more involved in discussions and strategies related to dyslexia, in line with responsibilities under section 12 of the Additional Support for Learning Act and staff should seek and take account of their views.


The following examples outline some of the ways in which parents/carers, children and young people with dyslexia have been involved in discussions and strategies related to dyslexia since the 2014 Making Sense Review. This work has been supported through funding from the Scottish Government.

Through this engagement with parents/carers and young people, a wealth of evidence has been gathered about young people’s experiences of dyslexia and what matters to them.

The following video is one example of a film that made by a dyslexic boy to raise awareness during Dyslexia Awareness Week, which can be found on the Dyslexia Unwrapped website.

dyslexia unwrapped

  • The National Development Officer, in collaboration with Dyslexia Scotland, attended parent/carer sessions and Dyslexia Scotland branch meetings
  • A series of parent masterclasses have been run by Dyslexia Scotland across Scotland since March 2018
  • Dyslexia Scotland Ambassador education outreach programme
  • Feedback from schools and parents about the above Ambassador programme
  • Dyslexia Unwrapped – involvement of young people, including the Young Ambassadors, in developing the children and young people’s website
  • Dyslexia Unwrapped – Survey feedback on first anniversary of website, January 2019
  • Dyslexia Unwrapped analytical statistics [Annex D]
  • Youth Days - Feedback from Youth Day participants and from parents
  • Dyslexia Scotland’s Young Ambassadors’ involvement in sharing their experiences at events such as Youth Days [Annex E]
  • Young Ambassador Voice – Feedback about Young Ambassador Rachel Miller’s keynote talk at Education conference, October 2018 [Annex F]
  • During Dyslexia Awareness Week each year, Dyslexia Scotland has a dedicated webpage with resources, presentations and posters for schools to access. In addition, as part of the Awareness Week, Ellie’s Blue ribbon campaign distributes 50,000 blue ribbons to schools, workplaces and other organisations. Each year, young people, teachers, schools and libraries share their stories on social media about pupils’ presentations by Dyslexia Champions in assemblies and classrooms and other events including Wear Blue day, Bake sales, competitions (such as list 10 famous dyslexic people).

Dyslexia Scotland Ambassador education outreach programme

The aim of this programme was to reinforce the Toolkit dissemination programme by supplementing it with a programme of teachers’, pupils’ and parents’/carers’ workshops in selected primary schools. Led by two of Dyslexia Scotland‘s Ambassadors, Paul McNeill and Rossie Stone, the pupils’ workshops aimed to raise awareness of dyslexia throughout the whole school environment, while the teachers’ workshops aimed to embed the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit into everyday practice. The parents’ workshops led by Paul McNeill outlined his personal story about dyslexia including as a parent of a dyslexic child and introduced the programme to parents whose pupils were taking part.

During Phases 1 and 2 (2017 – 2019), the programme engaged with 22 primary schools in total across four different local authorities (Falkirk, East Dunbartonshire, Glasgow City and South Lanarkshire). The programme involved three to four workshops per school, including inspirational workshops by our Ambassadors, which developed four ‘Dyslexia characters’ to help dyslexic pupils identify issues and solutions to help them learn. Rossie Stone, cartoon artist and creator of Dekko comics, created the cartoons. The schools were identified in liaison with the Director of Education in each of the local authorities and in consultation with the Toolkit and Making Sense working groups.

The pupils who took part in the interactive workshops led by Paul McNeill/Rossie Stone shared their views/experiences of dyslexia and contributed to the development of the cartoon characters by reflecting their own experiences, coping strategies and issues. Around 660 pupils (30 pupils per school in 22 schools across 4 local authorities) shared their experiences in this way.

A teaching pack will be available in 2020 for all local authorities. The pack will include the three presentations used (for the teachers, parents and pupils), the programme’s intended and actual outcomes, a summary of lessons learned, a link to a film clip of a pupils’ workshop and the comics. Pupils’ own stories and drawings will be also shared in the pack as well as on Dyslexia Unwrapped website.

See Annex F for feedback from the schools and parents that demonstrates the impact of the Ambassador programme.

4.3 HM Inspectors should continue through inspections to monitor the quality of provision and outcomes for children and young people with dyslexia.


Inspections of schools and Early Learning and Childcare settings routinely evaluate Quality Indicator 3.1 Ensuring wellbeing equality and inclusion, with the themes of

  • Wellbeing,
  • Fulfilment of statutory duties, and
  • Inclusion and Equality.

Quality Indicator 3.1 focuses on the impact of the school’s approach to wellbeing which underpins children and young people’s ability to achieve success. It highlights the need for policies and practices to be well grounded in current legislation and a shared understanding of the value of every individual. A clear focus on ensuring wellbeing entitlements and protected characteristics supports all learners to maximise their successes and achievements.

Ongoing professional learning for HM Inspectors includes a focus on equality and inclusion. This includes dyslexia.

Evidence about progress of different groups of learners, including dyslexic learners is routinely discussed in all school inspections.

The use of Quality Indicator 3.1 in inspections is sending strong signals to the sector that ensuring wellbeing, equality and inclusion requires strong strategic leadership.

4.4 The Scottish Government should work with Dyslexia Scotland to consider national accreditation schemes for Dyslexia Friendly Schools and Dyslexia Friendly Authorities.


Stakeholder engagement identified that the most effective model to support schools and local authorities to improve the educational experience for their learners was to focus on dyslexia and inclusive practice and not a national accreditation scheme. There was consensus that the pedagogy and approaches which support dyslexic learners are in fact ‘good learning and teaching’ and are supported by the existing self-evaluation framework.

Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice: Professional Learning Resource

Education Scotland and the Scottish Government, working with stakeholders, have developed a professional learning resource to support schools and local authorities to use a reflective and evaluative approach to;

  • improve the outcomes for dyslexic learners
  • improve practice
  • empower whole school approaches to support learners
  • support professional learning on inclusive practice
  • evaluate and evidence impact
  • fulfil statutory duties; and
  • build on partnerships within the Regional Improvement Collaboratives, developing opportunities to share practice, reduce duplication of resource development and work together.

Recommendation 5

This image represents the link between recommendation 5 and recommendations 1,2,3 and 4

5. The availability and use of reliable information on children and young people’s needs, development and achievement should be improved.

5.1 In partnership with the Scottish Government, local authorities should improve the quality and use of data regarding the number of children and young people identified as having dyslexia.


To have effective data on the numbers of children and young people with dyslexia requires that those in schools and local authorities:

  • understand what dyslexia is and use the 2009 Scottish Working Definition of Dyslexia
  • use the collaborative pathway to support identification – preferably early identification from approximately the end of Primary 2 onwards
  • understand that although a label is not required in Scotland for a learner to receive the appropriate support, identification can nonetheless be extremely important for the individual’s wellbeing.

All of the professional learning opportunities and engagement with schools and local authorities that have been outlined in this report highlighted the importance of these factors.

There is evidence that through this multi-layered approach we are beginning to see an increase in the identification of dyslexia recorded by schools and local authorities.
[Annex G].

Data from the pupil census carried out in 2018 was compared with data from the equivalent census of 2014 to consider any changes in the reporting of pupils with dyslexia as a reason for having an additional support need (ASN) by local authorities over this four-year period. Overall, in 2018 1.4 percent of pupils were recorded with dyslexia as a reason for ASN at primary, compared with 1.1 percent in 2014, a 0.3 percentage point increase. In 2018, 5.6 percent of pupils were recorded with dyslexia as a reason for ASN at secondary, compared with 4.0 percent in 2014, a 1.6 percentage point increase. These increases were concurrent with increases in the overall percentage of pupils in primary and secondary schools with ASN and, therefore, may be driven by the same factors.

The same data shows that there is still considerable variation in the recording of pupils with dyslexia as a reason for ASN across local authorities and that this variation has not decreased from 2014 to 2018. For example, in 2018 one authority reported that 1.6 percent of its secondary population had dyslexia as a reason for ASN while in another authority the comparable figure was seven times greater at 11.9 percent.

The pattern of rates of pupils being reported as having dyslexia as a reason for ASN across local authorities remained similar between 2014 and 2018. That is, those local authorities recording the highest rates in primary and secondary schools in 2014 were doing so in 2018 (and vice-versa for those recording the lowest proportions).

The prevalence of dyslexia in the population is estimated to be up to 10%. The above figures from the pupil census are not directly comparable with estimates relating to the population as information on the entire school population is not included. Independent, grant-aided and special schools are all excluded from the analysis. Rates of dyslexia may be higher or lower in the pupil population of some of these schools than in those considered in the analysis. Additionally, the pupil census only records pupils who receive additional support to access education as a result of having dyslexia or exhibiting dyslexic characteristics. It therefore includes pupils who do not have a formal identification of dyslexia recorded and may exclude pupils who have a formal identification of dyslexia but who the school and/or local authority do not consider to require additional support (for example, if their needs are already being met by their usual provision).

These factors mean the information from the pupil census is not directly comparable with the estimation of the prevalence of dyslexia in the general population. Despite this there does appear to be clear evidence that the number of pupils reported with dyslexia as a reason for ASN is lower than expected, particularly in some local authorities.

5.2 The Scottish Government should review the data which it is intending to collect for the census and improve the clarity of instructions for school/pupil census submissions to improve the quality of data available regarding children and young people with dyslexia.


SEEMiS reporting for schools. Dyslexia classification

All 32 local authorities use SEEMiS in their schools to record data on their learners. Additional Support Needs (ASN) data must be recorded in the Personal Tab Click+Go for all relevant early years and childcare settings, primary and secondary pupils. The data includes:

  • pupil needs;
  • the type of staff required to support those needs; and
  • level of intervention.

Information from the Personal Tab is exported to ScotXed for census purposes and is also used by local authorities. The local authorities and schools are responsible for the quality assurance of this data.

To improve collection of data for pupils with additional support needs, the Specification and Guidance was updated and published in July 2019 for the 2018 pupil census collection. The update includes improved guidance on recording dyslexia and the removal of the reference to a medical diagnosis will be helpful to schools who have been reluctant to record dyslexia learners under the previous guidance. The improvements will include:

  • Removal of reference to medical diagnosis.
  • Clarification that learners do not require a formal diagnosis before being provided with support for a range of conditions including dyslexia – Section 6.1.2, Page 62, Paragraph 6.
  • Clarification that information should be recorded about children and young people who receive additional support if the child/young person has had dyslexia identified or support is being provided to a pupil who may exhibit dyslexic characteristics – Section 6.1.2, Page 64, Dyslexia.
  • The inclusion of the Scottish Definition of Dyslexia and a link to the definition on the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit.

The reliability of data published on the numbers of dyslexic learners in Scottish public schools is dependent on schools and local authorities:

  • Understanding the importance a ‘label’ of dyslexia can have on a learner’s wellbeing and sense of self, even though in our needs led education system the label is not a pre requisite to support.
  • Ensuring there is an appropriate identification procedure in place, which is accessible and understood.
  • Ensuring early identification is supported.
  • Using the term dyslexia when it is appropriate and recording it on SEEMiS.



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