Specific Learning Difficulties


These pupils may have significant difficulties in reading, writing or spelling which are not typical of their general level of performance across other areas of the curriculum. They may demonstrate good ability orally but experience difficulty in gaining literacy skills. There may be associated difficulties in phonological processing, short term memory, sequencing number skills, motor function and organisational skills.


  • Low attainment in one or more subject areas, particularly where this can be traced to difficulty in some aspect of literacy and/or numeracy i.e. spelling, handwriting, number, manipulative skills.
  • Indication that the low attainment is not global.
  • Difficulty with fine or gross motor skills.
  • Signs of frustration and/or low self-esteem and in some cases evidence that the level of difficulty is leading to disengagement from learning, non-attendance and/or behavioural problems.
  • Inability to overcome weaknesses despite carefully planned intervention, differentiated work and limited success in the use of alternative approaches.
  • Difficulty with language skills, such as following instructions.
  • Poorly presented and/or unfinished work.
  • Poor recall, sequencing, organisational, memory and problem-solving skills.
  • Confusion with similar letters and words, either written or spoken.
  • Confusion with direction and time.

General Strategies

  • Use ICT as an aid i.e. spell masters, computer spelling programmes, speech facility as a support, tape recorders.
  • Illustrated dictionaries or word lists.
  • Highlight key words in text/display, colour back to topic-specific key words.
  • Use alternative ways to record information e.g. mind maps, symbols, graphs, timelines etc.
  • Colour-coded exercise books.
  • Colour filters.
  • Time at beginning and end of classes for pupil to organise themselves and time to write down homework.
  • Use of a ‘buddy’ system.
  • Teach spelling rules.
  • Use of mnemonics.