Children with dyslexia - their experiences in specialised dyslexic and mainstream settings

  • Ann Casserly

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy



The purpose of this two phase longitudinal case study was to examine the experiences of children with dyslexia in a two year placement in specialised dyslexic settings (special reading classes/schools), their subsequent transition and experiences back in the mainstream classroom.


The predominant nature of this research was qualitative, adopting a longitudinal process underpinned by a case study approach. This comprised of two phases over a three-four year period with 10 specialised dyslexic setting teachers, 20 mainstream class teachers, 20 support teachers, 20 children and their parents as the principal participants. Data gathered from interview transcripts and field notes, questionnaires and document analysis were examined using ‘thematic’ and ‘content’ analysis.


Children enjoy the school environment of the specialised dyslexic setting and make significant progress, particularly in literacy and in socio-emotional terms. While specialised dyslexic and mainstream teachers acknowledge the identification and labelling of dyslexia in positive terms, children still believe that specialised dyslexic setting teachers are more dyslexia aware in their approaches. On return to mainstream, children continue to have difficulties with the curriculum and are conscious of their abilities relative to their peers. However, most children continue to make further reading progress. Overall, children have happier experiences on return to mainstream with increased levels of self-esteem.


Like other research, this study rejects distinctive SEN teaching strategies as there is no explicit learner-pedagogy relationship evident in specialised dyslexic settings. Instead, mainstream teachers must concentrate their efforts in adapting common teaching approaches and engage in active, environment based and differentiated learning and in addition increase their focus on the socio-emotional aspects in facilitating the learning of children with dyslexia.

Date of AwardDec 2009
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorJoy Alexander (Supervisor) & Ronald Smith (Supervisor)


  • dyslexia
  • specialised dyslexic settings
  • mainstream
  • socio-emotional factors
  • interactive teaching and learning approaches
  • transition

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