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New University and schools’ initiative helps children with dyslexia to excel


An initiative by the University of Chester and schools in Ellesmere Port is creating new opportunities for sharing ideas, experience and practices to support children with dyslexia to excel in the classroom.

Justin Madders, Member of Parliament for Ellesmere Port and Neston, recently joined academics from the University’s School of Education and classroom practitioners to celebrate how the collaboration with Ellesmere Port schools is making a difference for young people.

The MP visited Ellesmere Port Catholic High School on April 21 and heard about the innovative work from representatives of the School of Education’s Academic and Professional Programmes (APP) Department; primary and secondary schools.

Set up by Sarah Guest, Programme Leader for the Master of Arts in Dyslexia Research and Practice at the University, a working party of practitioners in Ellesmere Port has been formed to enhance support for school pupils with dyslexia, a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent reading and spelling. The group consists of representatives from many of the primary and secondary schools in the town.

The group’s first project has been to create a dyslexia-inclusive classroom resource. Co-ordinated by Sarah, the group has discussed, researched and shared ideas for creating an inclusive classroom. These have been turned by the University department into a supportive poster, tailored to meet the needs of local practitioners.

The event marked the project entering its second phase; giving the resource ‘back to the town’, with Justin’s support. The group has discussed ways of embedding these principles into their classroom settings, to have the greatest impact for young people in the town.

Justin commented on the genuine collaboration and sharing of excellent practice by the schools and University for the benefit of students.

Sarah said:

“As a department, we are driven by the principles of inclusion; an inclusive classroom is one in which all learners are supported to achieve, allowing talent to flourish.

“We are passionate about using our skills to make a difference to the local community and are delighted to be working alongside colleagues in Ellesmere Port schools. There is a real desire to make a tangible difference to the educational experience and outcomes of the young people across this town.”

Sarah was joined in representing the School of Education at the event by its Dean, Associate Professor David Cumberland; Dr Lynn Sampson-Chappell, Head of APP, and Jane Weavers, Deputy Head of APP.

Vicky Marsland, SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) and Assistant Headteacher at Ellesmere Port Catholic High School added:

“This has been an exciting project to be involved in, we are passionate about inclusive practice at Ellesmere Port Catholic High School and believe it benefits all students.

“This project has been an integral part of our work to achieve the Dyslexia Friendly Schools award; we aim to become the first secondary school in Cheshire to achieve this accolade. We are excited about the impact this will have on our students and the wider community and we look forward to continuing this collaboration with the University of Chester.”

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