Challenging perceptions of dyslexic children and how to support them

Teachers, support staff, SENCOs and parents are being urged to do more to help dyslexic children in school, in a new campaign launched by Made by Dyslexia and supported by Zinc Network.

As a mother of a dyslexic child, the shocking reality that at least 80% of dyslexic pupils in the UK leave formal education without being recognised or diagnosed is heart-breaking. I have seen first-hand the difference it can make when a dyslexic child is supported to learn in a way that amplifies their strengths and recognises the challenges they face.

It’s estimated that 10-20% of the global population is dyslexic, yet in the UK 74% of teachers admit to not feeling equipped to identify and support dyslexic pupils. That means the majority of dyslexic children aren’t given the opportunity to meet their potential and are paying a heavy price when it comes to their emotional and mental wellbeing.

Made by Dyslexia have set an ambitious challenge to train EVERY teacher in the world to SPOT, SUPPORT and EMPOWER dyslexic learners. Our goal was to create a campaign to challenge perceptions of dyslexia and drive educatorsand parents to complete Made by Dyslexia’s free 2-hour online awareness course (which is powered by the Microsoft Educator Centre).

A lack of understanding

Zinc Network conducted in-depth research with educatorsand parents/carers to better understand their attitudes and behaviour in relation to dyslexia. We found that most educators have a limited understanding of dyslexia and a lack of confidence in their ability to recognise it and change their teaching practice to have an impact. There was enthusiasm for doing things differently, but this wasn’t backed up by tangible knowledge and skills. Educators weren’t motivated to act now, often underplaying the issue and/or shifting blame to others they felt were better qualified.

Most parents and carers told us they’d had to “battle the education system” and had encountered negative attitudes towards dyslexia along the way. They had invested significant time getting to grips with dyslexia and seeking out strategies and interventions to support their children; though they didn’t always know whose advise to trust and lacked expertise and confidence on the issue.

Practical barriers were in place for both groups – few triggers to complete training, a perceived lack of time or resources, and a lack of understanding about how impactful, easily implementable, universally effective strategies and intervention could be. All our communications were designed to overcome/minimise these barriers.

See, Think, Do, Care

Following this research, our creative team developed a campaign idea around the ‘Round Pegs, Square Holes’ analogy – communicating that pushing dyslexic children (round pegs) to learn through traditional teaching methods (square holes) is futile, leaving dyslexic children frustrated, low in self-esteem and unable to fulfil their potential.

We created campaign microsites, a campaign film and supporting assets which highlighted this message and positioned Made by Dyslexia’s online awareness course as an easy and attractive solution. Working with Made by Dyslexia – and supported by Facebook and Google – we implemented a nuanced digital strategy structured around a four-step user journey (‘See, Think, Do, Care’).

See:Content that raises awareness of the issue at hand and offers a solution, digitally targeted at educators and parents via Facebook, Instagram and YouTube (platforms that they use extensively).

Think: Further content that increases interest in the issue (by providing new, relevant information) and re-empathises the solution – achieved through re-targeting viewers from the ‘See’ phase, as well as paid search adverts on Google.

Do:Content that increases the target audience’s knowledge and inspires them to make positive changes to their teaching practice/parenting, promotingcompletion of Made by Dyslexia’s online awareness course.

Care:Content that stimulates advocacy; encouraging course completers to engage their colleagues/peers and encourage them to take the training via social badging, tagged social media posts, online reviews etc.

This user journey creates a continuous loop, where users are made aware of the issue, offered a solution, and then urged to encouraged others to complete the journey themselves. By encouraging more educators and parents to complete their training, we can help Made by Dyslexia achieve their goal of making sure every teacher can spot, support, and empower dyslexic children within the next five years.

Find out more on the Connect the Spots campaign page.