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Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) Service

The Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) Service is part of the Specialist Education Service and sits within the Cognition and Learning Service. The team is staffed by 7 experienced teachers, all of whom hold specialist qualifications for teaching and assessing pupils with dyslexia/literacy difficulties.

The team works in partnership with all schools across Suffolk to improve outcomes for learners who have significant and persistent literacy difficulties. We are also developing our offer to support learners with Dyscalculia/ Maths difficulties.

Our core service aims to improve outcomes for individual students who are not making expected progress despite having followed an appropriate literacy intervention. This is achieved through working directly with the school and staff to plan individualised intervention, personalised strategies and teaching approaches in the classroom, alongside support to develop a whole school approach to supporting learners with Dyslexia/literacy difficulties.

A diagnosis of dyslexia or any other Specific Learning Difficulty is not necessary to access this service. For more information, please click the drop-down menus below.

How to access our services

If you are concerned about your child's literacy development, we would encourage you to talk to your school in the first instance to find out what support is already being offered. Schools might do the following before referring to our service:

  • Assess and monitor your child’s literacy skills.
  • Implement dyslexia friendly strategies in the classroom.
  • Place them on an evidence-based literacy intervention.
  • Seek advice and guidance from an SpLD Specialist Teacher at the Specialist Education Service’s weekly Inclusion Support Meetings (ISM). This does not require a full referral. 

If it is felt that greater support is required then, after seeking your agreement, your child's school can make a full referral to our service using the SES Referral Form. You will be asked to sign the referral form and to express your views. The panel looks at referrals every week. The school will receive an email explaining the panel’s decision and will discuss this with you.

Key facts about our service

Key Facts

  • We are a school based referral service.
  • Your child does not need a formal diagnosis to be referred to our service.
  • 1 in 10 people have dyslexia
  • Dyslexia is on a continuum; difficulties can range from mild to moderate to severe.
  • Not all children who have been identified as having a dyslexic profile will need support from our service.
  • Dyslexia is not linked to ability.

Who do we support?

  • Children at SEN Support stage or who have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
  • Learners who have already followed a literacy intervention and have not made appropriate progress.
  • Learners who have moderate to severe dyslexic type difficulties

What schools might do before referring to us

  • Assess and monitor your child’s literacy skills.
  • Implement dyslexia friendly strategies in the classroom.
  • Place them on an evidence-based literacy intervention.
  • Seek advice and guidance at an Inclusion Support Meeting (ISM) from a SpLD Specialist Teacher

What happens next?

  • The school may feel it is appropriate to make a referral to our service.
  • You will be asked to sign the referral form and to express your views.
  • The panel looks at referrals every week.
  • The school will receive an email explaining the panel’s decision and will discuss this decision with you.

How the SpLD Service supports schools if a referral is accepted:

  • The specialist teacher will complete an assessment of your child’s current literacy skills.
  • An action planning meeting will be arranged with the school to create a personalised intervention programme which the school will carry out.
  • The Specialist Teacher will plan together with the school to support the implementation of the agreed intervention programme.
  • The school will liaise with you and invite you to meet the specialist teacher.
  • You will receive a copy of the SpLD reports

How the SpLD Service supports the delivery of school-based intervention:

  • Joint planning of an evidence-based literacy intervention and modelling of personalised strategies to support reading and spelling development.
  • Advice around dyslexia friendly resources, intervention, and strategies.
  • Advice around assistive technology.

This is our core service and is free to all schools.

Resources for practitioners

The following are some resources we have developed that you may find useful: 

Microsoft Accessibility Features

Resources for Overlearning

Assessment Guidance for SENDCOs

Classroom Identification Checklist

Independent Writing Analysis

Informal Assessment Proforma

Parent Carer Questionnaire

Phonically Decodable Words

Pupil Voice Gathering

Referral Route: Notes for Schools

Please remember: a diagnosis of dyslexia is NOT needed to access our core service.

Things to consider and check before referring:

  • The learner is at SEN Support or has an EHCP.
  • There is evidence of persistent and severe literacy difficulties/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. (Rose 2009)

In addition, please consider whether the following points have already been checked and implemented:

  • Quality first teaching and inclusive/dyslexia friendly classroom strategies have been implemented
  • The SEN Code of Practice cycle of assess, plan, do, review, has been followed
  • An evidence based, structured, sequential, and cumulative literacy intervention has been implemented.
  • The learner has made limited or no progress (for secondary schools: this may have happened at primary school).

If you are not sure whether you have fulfilled the above and need further advice/support, please consider:

  • Booking a free Specialist Educational Service (SES) Inclusion Support Meeting (ISM), and speak to a SpLD Specialist Teacher who will signpost you to the next steps for this learner
  • Contacting a specialist teacher directly
  • Looking at the resources for Schools created by the SpLD team
  • The SES traded offer

If, after considering/implementing the above, you are still concerned about the learner’s progress, a referral to SpLD’s core service may be appropriate.

In order to refer to us, you must complete the SES Referral Form. This must document the following:

  • What dyslexia friendly strategies have been used within Quality First Teaching
  • What focussed group/individual interventions have been implemented and monitored.
  • Evidence of characteristics consistent with a dyslexic profile
  • Any advice from professionals, and the impact of the work in response to the advice given.

Referral must be agreeed with the child's parent/carer prior to being made. Please ensure that the parent/carer's signature has been electronically scanned and sent with the referral.

  • Referrals received will be considered weekly.
  • If the referral meets our core criteria the school will receive an email confirming this and a specialist teacher will make contact with the school. 
  • If the referral does not meet the core criteria the school will be invited to book an Inclusion Support Meeting (ISM). 
Resources for families

Resources you may find helpful in supporting your child

Clicker 8 and Clicker Writer: Information sheet

We have also produced the following three videos:

Supporting Dyslexia Secondary Students During Remote Learning and Beyond 

Personalising the iPad: inbuilt accessibility features for parents and carers 

Accessibility features of Microsoft Word and Google Docs for Learners with Dyslexia

(You can view the playlist for all three videos here: How to support your child with dyslexia/literacy difficulties at home )

Tips to support home learning

We have developed a set of resource sheets to help you support your child's learning at home:

1: Supporting reading at home

2: Using Audiobooks and IT to support reading

3: Supporting memory systems at home

4: Dyslexia and personal organisation

5: Spelling Part 1

6: Spelling Part 2

7: Handwriting 1

8: Alternative methods of recording

9: Writing

10: Phonological Awareness

11: Celebrating your child’s strengths

12: Sequencing

Events and training

Dyslexia Awareness Week 2023, 2nd - 6th October.

Download the flyer for more information

News and updates
Contact details

Professionals and parents are both welcome to contact the team for further information, either by calling 07872 007991 or on the following emails:

Nicky Wilde (Lead Specialist Teacher) nicola.wilde@suffolk.gov.uk

Sandra Sidoli (Specialist Teacher): sandra.sidoli@suffolk.gov.uk

Anji Rico (Specialist Teacher): anji.rico@suffolk.gov.uk

Zoe Bell (Specialist Teacher): zoe.bell@suffolk.gov.uk 

Gail Southgate (Specialist Teacher): gail.southgate@suffolk.gov.uk

Rebecca Moran (Specialist Teacher): rebecca.moran@suffolk.gov.uk

Rhian Hayward-Bradley (Specialist Teacher) Rhian.Hayward-Bradley@suffolk.gov.uk


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