Roles and Partnership Working

It is helpful to understand the roles practitioners have within the collaborative process of identifying dyslexia. 


Classroom Teacher

Support for all learners begins within the classroom and is provided by the classroom teacher who holds the main responsibility for nurturing, educating and meeting the needs of all pupils in their class. The teacher also ensures early identification of pupils’ additional support needs, plans, delivers and reviews curriculum programmes.

Role of the Support for Learning Teacher (SfL Teacher)

The Support for Learning teacher works in partnership with parents and appropriate practitioners to meet the additional support needs of children and young people within their local authority’s staged intervention process. They assist class teachers and school management to ensure that children who have additional needs have those needs identified and met within Curriculum for Excellence.

Support should be delivered through the five well established roles of the Support for Learning teacher:

1. Consultancy / consultation

Consultancy can take place in many forms: from simply giving advice to working collaboratively with individuals or departments. Effective learning and teaching strategies may be discussed and developed and suitable resources identified and made available.

It is important to discuss and reach conclusions on issues such as meeting the needs of learners with a variety of different needs, not just concerning literacy, but also behavioural issues. This has implications for classroom management, motivation etc.

2. Planning, learning and teaching: including co-operative teaching with class teachers

SfL teachers may teach alongside class teachers in the classroom. Clear aims should be set out beforehand and subsequently reviewed. This helps provide direct support to, and monitoring of, the progress of all pupils in class, as well as developing classroom strategies with the subject teacher and assisting in recording and assessment.

Sometimes it is helpful for pupils, individually or in small groups, to work out of class with a member of SfL staff. This can aid the ongoing process of dynamic assessment and establish what is likely to work best. Blocks of support may be given to larger groups of pupils to focus on development of specific skills. Though this works in primary schools, it is particularly important in secondary schools in preparing learners for important exams and applying for further and higher education. SfL will be involved in planning and delivering specialised/focused programmes.

3. Identification and Assessment

Working with colleagues to ensure the early identification of pupils’ additional support needs, SfL will be involved with observations, formative and summative assessments, screening and dissemination/feedback to parents/carers/staff/multi agency colleagues.

The SfL teacher/department holds information on individual pupils and is involved in further ongoing assessment and support when this is appropriate. The SfL teacher has some delegated responsibilities for ensuring that information on individual pupils is appropriately disseminated both in school and to external agencies and parents.

4. Partnership with specialist services

Partnership working to ensure a holistic approach is taken in gathering information and placing the child/young person at the centre is very important. Support teachers will be in regular contact with colleagues in schools/educational services and multi-agency colleagues e.g. health, social work and voluntary organisations.

5. Contributing to professional development

The SfL teacher/department contributes to staff development in a variety of ways through:

  • Sharing of insight, experience and resources
  • Presentation of in-service sessions, e.g. twilight sessions
  • Offering guidance on accessible resources/materials, curriculum, equipment and approaches
  • Sharing effective strategies, disseminating information from courses attended
  • Disseminating information to staff on local authority procedures, legislation and guidelines

These 5 roles are all complementary, and none should be carried out in isolation.

Role of the Educational Psychologist

The role of the Educational Psychologist within local authority schools is to offer advice and intervention to young people, parents, schools and the Education Service. The identification of dyslexia within the school setting is not required to be carried out by an Educational Psychologist. However they may provide consultation on the assessment, identification and educational planning for pupils with dyslexia.

This may include working:

  • With individual pupils and the staff who support them in contributing to the assessment process and giving advice on learning approaches.
  • With staff in reviewing assessment methods and evidence of dyslexic difficulties, as well as providing staff development and training.
  • At school level in validating Assessment Arrangements, as per Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) guidance.
  • With parent groups, voluntary organisations, and other bodies in ensuring shared understanding of up to date developments in approaches to literacy, numeracy and other matters relating to dyslexia.
  • At authority level and nationally in contributing to and ensuring that there is appropriate and effective policy and guidance, including research and development.

Education Authorities

Education authorities are required to identify and support the additional support needs of each child or young person for whose school education they are responsible.  They should:

  • provide transparent information and guidelines to staff and the public on their processes to support additional needs
  • provide appropriate professional development opportunities
  • ensure that the entitlements of Curriculum for Excellence are available and that the legal frameworks are followed.

Role of Occupational Therapist

For some children with dyslexia, their difficulties overlap into social and practical skills. Where these difficulties affect the child’s everyday life, the role of the Occupational Therapist is to work with parents/carers, teachers and others to assess the difficulties the child is having with these skills.  They will then work to enable the child or young person to be as physically, psychologically and socially independent as possible.

Referrals for Occupational Therapy Services can come from a variety of sources and this varies across the country. All referrers must ensure the referral is made with the parents’ consent.

Role of Physiotherapist

For some children with dyslexia, their difficulties overlap with physical movement problems. Physiotherapists work with children and young people with movement disorders, their parents/carers, teachers and others. The aim of the Physiotherapist is to help the child or young person reach their full potential through providing physical intervention, advice and support.

Referrals to Physiotherapy can come from a variety of sources and this varies across the country. All referrers must ensure the referral is made with the parents’ consent.

Partnership Working

There is a clear consensus that joint planning at the earliest possible stage is most helpful in meeting children’s and young people’s needs. Early and good communication between education staff, allied health professionals and parents is more likely to lead to coordinated and appropriate planning, support and monitoring for each individual child.

Learning targets are more likely to be reinforced at home if parents have also been centrally involved in planning. Planning is considered to be most effective when the young person’s views are taken into account.

Further information can be found at: