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My name is Nicola Chinnery and I started working within the education system in 2003, in a large Primary school. During my time there as a Teaching Assistant, I was able to observe a working classroom and was always astounded by how diverse the students’ needs were, and how they reacted to a given teaching strategy. This led me to understand how a specific learning difficulty often requires specific teaching strategies. In addition, I also became interested in the effects that low self esteem and a lack of confidence have on a child’s learning ability. From this interest, I ran a small group session to ‘help students improve self esteem’ which was highly successful. The children attending enjoyed the opportunity to analyse why they often feel the way they do.
It was during this time I attended courses on ‘Autistic Spectrum Disorder in the Classroom’ and ‘Elklan Teaching Initiatives in Speech and Language’. Wishing to work solely within Specific Learning Difficulties, I joined the team at the Wickhambrook Centre for Specific Learning Differences, an expanding flagship centre which, having been established a year earlier, was designed to cater for the needs of pupils with SpLD such as Dyslexia. Students from around Suffolk attended the Centre for two days a week and their ‘home’ school for the other three days. It was here that I really began to take interest in Dyslexia and I decided this was the area I wished to work in. I enjoyed three years at the Centre, gaining more experience from students in Key Stages 2 and 3 with Dyslexia and co-occurring difficulties.
Wishing to expand my knowledge, in 2010 I was advised to take the Hornsby Course in Dyslexia. During this time, I spoke to Jane Dupree and, on completion of the course in 2011, I joined her as a Tutor at the Dyslexia and Literacy Support Centre in Glemsford. I then expanded my training with Dyslexia Action’s online course in ‘Developing Mathematics’.