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About LEAP Adult Education

LEAP Adult Education caters for adults with basic skills needs, specialising in dyslexia.

The group is based in Barnard Castle but caters for people from a much wider area, including Richmond, Darlington and Durham.

We offer multi-sensory education, one-to-one teaching, organisational and life-skills training and fully qualified dyslexia testing.

Help and support is provided in accessing the services of LEAP, for those who may not be able to afford it.

Adult Dyslexia - A Cloak Over Your Intelligence

LEAP is part of Durham County Council Local Education Authority's Community Education Service. We offer general basic skills provision, but we are particularly proud of our specialist provision for dyslexic adults who now come to our centre from quite far afield.

We receive referrals from colleges, job centres, occupational and clinical psychologists, local dyslexia institutes as well as requests from students themselves.

The only other local organisation which offers a specialist service similar to this is the Dyslexia Institute and this can sometimes prove expensive for adults (our service is free). Local Dyslexia Institutes regularly refer adults to us because they are confident of the high quality of work.

Specialist Tutor Training

Because we specialise in assessing and teaching dyslexic adults, all our basic skills tutors are given a preliminary dyslexia awareness raising session as part of their City and Guilds 9281/02 initial teaching certificate. We train selected basic skills tutors to a high standard(OCR Dyslexia Certificate)and in future, Diploma. Training ensures they understand dyslexia theory, up to date research in dyslexia and how to teach the specialist multisensory programmes. Some of the tutors go on to attain post grad. diplomas in dyslexia. Regular in-service training and monitoring takes place with all staff.

Assessment and Guidance

We use an innovative adult dyslexia screening test (the DAST) which has been developed by Prof Rod Nicolson and Dr Angela Fawcett at Sheffield University. It is a quick and reliable method of identifying the students who will need a full diagnostic assessment. Jenny Lee carries out full dyslexia assessments and is trained to post graduate standard.

These diagnostic assessments include information about background and educational history, needs analysis and intellectual abilities. An analysis of reading, spelling, writing and number as well as an investigation into cognitive skills (eg working memory, phonological awareness, speed of information processing and visual perception) also takes place. Assessments also take into account learning styles and give recommendations for learning options, certification and progression routes.

Detailed individual learning out recent plans are then negotiated with the students and these are rigorously reviewed at agreed intervals. Nearly all dyslexic students work on a 1-1 basis. Only our specialist trained staff are responsible for teaching dyslexic students.

All dyslexic students are offered guidance and support as well as information about recent research on dyslexia.


The core curriculum for dyslexic students has been designed to be flexible yet take into account the common 'dyslexic' areas of difficulty, eg short term memory problems, phonological awareness and difficulties with developing automaticity. It is important to choose a programme which reflects the degree of dyslexia whilst acknowledging the level of intelligence. Functional literacy and numeracy tasks such as those relating to jobs or home are also addressed.

We have recently developed 2 Open College multisensory spelling and language courses which we have specially designed for dyslexic students. They attract FEFC funding and are now available through OCNW.

Innovative multisensory spelling programmes have been developed in the centre for the learning of priority words. Students find these to be highly effective and success rates of between 85 & 97% are usually achieved.

External certification is offered where appropriate but 'in house' accreditation is still available for students who do not value certification in this field. (Many are also studying in higher education).

The Students

By the time a bright dyslexic individual has reached adulthood, his or her problems can be complex and diverse. Difficulties with spelling and reading will almost always be overlaid by problems in self esteem and confidence.

Students say they value the fact that staff understand their particular problems and learning styles, their frustrations and their anger. They also have the opportunity to talk to other dyslexic people and so feel less isolated. They are often astonished and delighted by the effectiveness of multisensory teaching.

Stimulating informal discussion often occurs bewteen staff and students regarding the latest research into dyslexia.

Disseminating Ideas

Jenny Lee receives regular requests to lecture on dyslexia to primary and secondary teachers, college and university lecturers, Dyslexia Institutes and dyslexia associations.

Excellent links have been established with local industry and local universities, where regular specialist teaching, funded by these organisations, is carried out by our staff. Our project in partnership with Glaxo Wellcome represents the first time in which the issue of dyslexia in industry has been fully addressed. We offer dyslexia awareness raising courses for managers and training coordinators, as well as assessment and specialist 1-1 tuition on site for dyslexic employees.

We are partners in an exiting international Dyslexia in Industry project for which international (Leonardo) funding has been secured. Other partners are in France, Norway, Ireland and Sunderland University. We are developing two interactive CDRoms which will be used by dyslexic employees and their managers. They explain the causes and indications of dyslexia and show ways of improving memory, reading and spelling.

We have written and piloted a dyslexia module for the University of Sunderland which carries with it 20 Credits. It can be studied by any dyslexic student, whatever his or her degree and it counts as part of that degree. It includes learning about dyslexia theory and how to study in a multisensory way. It is, we believe, the first time this has been done in this country. We also teach on a 1-1 basis and run weekly dyslexia learning support groups at the University.

Most recently, Jenny Lee has written a chapter on adult dyslexia in an academic book, published in this country and America and edited by the Dyslexia Institute: "Dyslexia in Practice", Kluwer/Plenum Press 2000. Jenny has also been asked to write abook on how to make the new adult curriculum work for dyslexic learners. (in press)

These are exiting times. New research is enabling us to provide more and more effective teaching methods. As word spreads and more teachers learn how to use these specialist methods, that "cloak" over the intelligence of these talented dyslexic adults will be removed so that they can reach their potential.

As a student said, when she found out she was dyslexic:"It's like finding out you've only got one leg and thinking 'Good, that's why I can't walk!'"

We like the good!!

Leap Adult Eucation Service - DYSLEXIA POLICY

Our policy is to ensure the following services.

Specialist Tutor Training & Monitoring

- A dyslexia awareness session for all tutors as part of the Initial Teaching Certificate (City and Guilds 9281/02) and the full teaching Certificate (City and Guilds 7306/9285);
-In depth training in assessing and teaching adult dyslexic students (OCR Certificate);
-Further in-service training and discussion groups, updating on recent research and teaching techniques;
-Regular monitoring to ensure multisensory teaching techniques are being used correctly.

Student Assessment and Guidance

-Initial screening - Fawcett & Nicolson Dyslexia Adult Screening test (DAST);
-Diagnostic assessment - general intellectual abilities, detailed reading, spelling and number skills analyses; cognitive skills, eg verbal memory, phonological awareness, speed of processing, visual perception, learning styles and needs.
-Guidance, information and counselling;
-Dissemination of current research into dyslexia.

The Curriculum

-Multisensory, structured, cumulative, negotiated, flexible and explained.
-Tailored to individual strengths and weaknesses.
-Regularly monitored, evaluated and discussed.

Disseminating Ideas

In Industry, colleges, universities, careers services, dyslexia organisations;
-Awareness raising with managers, trainers lecturers, support staff;
-Assessment and guidance
-Individual 1-1 multisensory teaching;
-Learning support groups.

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