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A thematic approach to identifying the theory-practice gap in relation to dyslexia: The learning support workers’ voice

Preen, Rachel Louise (2012) A thematic approach to identifying the theory-practice gap in relation to dyslexia: The learning support workers’ voice. University of Gloucestershire.

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Abstract

It is thought there information guides are primary resources for learning support workers (LSWs) to understand their role and practice within England’s education system (ES) today (Lowman & Mathie, 1993). Addressing the gap in literature highlighting the importance of the LSWs voice, this study offers LSWs the opportunity to express their opinions on currently available information guides, with particular focus on dyslexia, considered the most prevalent special educational need (SEN) in England’s ES. This paper hopes to inform the day-to-day practice of LSWs through offering recommendations for the construction of an information resource successfully presenting a core knowledgebase of dyslexia and effective interventions. Adopting a critical realist position, a qualitative approach was taken, using one-to-one semi-structured, tape-recorded, interviews, with three learning support staff (LSS) from a primary school in the South West of England. Thematic analysis (TA) constructed five themes, three of which were judged as key to the focal topic; ‘Dyslexia as a Condition’, ‘Power Reflects LSW’s Capabilities’ and ‘Dyslexia Information Availability and Adequacy’. The analysis felt there was a lack of understanding, or at least security, in the LSS’ knowledgebase of dyslexia. These interpretations are not thought to be a sole consequence of current information guides inadequacies, but an indirect consequence of multiple wider issues impinging upon these guides. Overall, this paper recommends the design of a new information guide meeting the requirements alluded to in this paper, combined with further research within this area, ought to transform LSW’s job-satisfaction, encouraging them to engage in further understanding of dyslexia.

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