Cognition & Learning: Literacy and Specific Learning Difficulties

Updated: 08/05/19

Educational Psychology & Specialist Support is a multi-disciplinary team. We work with schools, learners, parents and carers to identify and overcome barriers to learning.

We recognise that an individual child/young person should be supported in a way that meets their needs, recognises and develops their strengths and abilities.

EPSS acknowledges the term Neurodiversity as recognising the wide range of learning strengths and needs that contribute to a child/young person’s profile.

Neurodiversity is an umbrella term which is increasingly used to refer to a group of neurological developmental differences which share some common features.

Neurodiversity embraces a range of specific learning difficulties including:

  • Learning difficulties
  • Language Impairments/Developmental Language Disorder
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Dyspraxia/developmental coordination disorder (DCD)
  • Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD/ADHD)
  • Autism

A free booklet explaining neurodiversity in detail can be found using this link:


EPSS is committed to working in partnership with children and young people, parents/carers and schools.

We promote early identification of SEN and use of a graduated response which supports the Assess Plan Do Review process.

Our aim is to provide specialist consultation, intervention, training and assessment where this is requested by schools, and to advise and support schools in meeting the expectation of the SEND Code of Practice:

All schools should have a clear approach to identifying and responding to SEN. The benefits of early identification are widely recognised – identifying need at the earliest point and then making effective provision improves long-term outcomes for the child or young person.

                                                                                    SEND Code of Practice 6:14 (2014)

Literacy Difficulties

We recognise that not all children and young people who experience difficulties in literacy will be identified as experiencing dyslexia.

We promote fairness and transparency in working with children & young people with literacy difficulties. We recognise recent research around supporting children and young people with literacy difficulties.

We promote dyslexia friendly strategies which can benefit all children in school.

We can provide assessment, consultation and advice including practical strategies for class room teaching and learning and evidence-based literacy intervention, such as specialist teaching.

We believe that assessment should lead to specific advice to support not only progress but improvements in learning confidence and self-esteem.

We believe that it is essential to meet parents/carers in order to provide a holistic view of a child’s profile and will arrange to meet parents within our assessment.

We can provide advice on the use of Assistive Technology which may include a lap-top loan.

We can provide a range of training opportunities and support for schools including advice on providing a whole school dyslexia friendly environment.

We can provide assessment for Exam Access Arrangements and Study Needs Assessments for older students in further education.

We can provide advice and support for children and young people experiencing social, emotional and mental health difficulties linked to their learning and behaviour in school.


When working with children and young people we use the following two widely accepted definitions of dyslexia throughout a staged identification process as recommended in The Rose Report: an independent report from Sir Jim Rose to the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families June 2009.

This definition is taken from the British Psychological Society 1999

Dyslexia is evident when accurate and fluent word reading and/or spelling develops very incompletely or with very great difficulty. This focuses on literacy learning at the “word” level and implies that the problem is severe and persistent despite appropriate learning opportunities’

A conclusion to the BPS definition as reprinted in 2005 finds that:

‘Phonological processing continues to be one of the most
convincing explanatory elements.  Dyslexia can then be regarded
as a function of the reciprocal effects of learning opportunities and
the type and extent of phonological and semantic strengths and weaknesses’.

This definition is taken from an independent report from Sir Jim Rose to the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families June 2009.

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling.

Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed.

Dyslexia occurs across the range of intellectual abilities.

It is best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category and there are no clear cut-off points.

Co-occurring difficulties may be seen in aspects of language, motor co-ordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation, but these are not, by themselves, markers of dyslexia.

A good indication of the severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds or has responded to well founded intervention.

We acknowledge that other definitions of dyslexia exist.

What can EPSS offer?

Our multi-disciplinary team can support a range of co-occurring difficulties through links to the specialist teams within the service:

  • Specialist Teachers and Educational Psychologists have expertise across the range of co-occurring specific learning difficulties
  • Specialist Teachers hold post graduate level qualifications in assessing and teaching learners with specific learning difficulties including Assessment Practising Certificates (APC)
  • The Autistic Spectrum Disorder Specialist Support Team provides a range of services in connection with children with autism or difficulties in the area of social communication
  • The Social Emotional & Mental Health Team provide a range of services for children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties and where these difficulties have a significant impact on their ability to successfully engage with their learning
  • Additionally we offer access to a range of services including, Occupational Therapy (including Sensory Integration assessments and therapy) Clinical Psychologists, Speech and Language Therapist.

For further information on literacy and all aspects of dyslexia: