“Dyscalculia is a specific and persistent difficulty in understanding numbers which can lead to a diverse range of difficulties with mathematics. It will be unexpected in relation to age, level of education and experience and occurs across all ages and abilities ” (Jarrett, P, 2019)
Weston College is a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Centre for Excellence and a Queen’s Anniversary Prize winner for our outstanding inclusive practice.
This means we have a wealth of knowledge and expertise which we're keen to share with employers.
At Weston College we have specialist practitioners in Dyscalculia available to conduct workplace assessments and offer advice and guidance to not only the employee but employer, so please don’t hesitate to get in contact with the team to request this support.
It is important to remember that there are positives to thinking differently. Although those with dyscalculia may experience some of the difficulties listed above they have great strengths in areas such as reasoning, problem solving, people skills and in visual and creative fields. Ensuring employees with learning difficulties are supported effectively will enable you to harness the true potential and diverse skill set within your workforce.
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Our specialist staff work closely with you to help you understand the needs and targets of apprentices. This will allow you to match appropriate job roles and enable them to work independently and autonomously.
What is Dyscalculia?
Research into Dyscalculia in comparison to Dyslexia is in its infancy, however it is predicted that 5% of the population are Dyscalculic with 25% of the population experiencing mathematical difficulties.
There is no single diagnostic assessment. A range of measures should be used to determine factors that affect an individual’s mathematical performance, however at Weston College we are able to offer a screening service using GL Assessment to any learner that thinks they are showing signs of Dyscalculia. The outcome of which will help determine if further assessments are required.
Mathematics difficulties are best thought of as a continuum. Dyscalculia sits at one end of the spectrum and will be distinguishable from other maths issues due to the severity of difficulties with number sense, including subitising, symbolic and non-symbolic magnitude comparison, and ordering. It can occur independently but often co-occurs with other specific learning difficulties such as mathematics anxiety and medical conditions.
An individual with dyscalculia/mathematical learning difficulties may experience:
• Difficulty when counting backwards
• Have a poor sense of number and estimation
• Have difficulty in remembering ‘basic’ facts, despite many hours of practice/rote learning
• Have no strategies to compensate for lack of recall, other than to use counting
• Have difficulty in understanding place value and the role of zero in the Arabic/Hindu number system
• Have no sense of whether any answers that are obtained are right or nearly right
• Be slower to perform calculations. (Therefore give fewer examples, rather than more time)
• Forget mathematical procedures, especially as they become more complex, for example ‘long’ division. Addition is often the default operation. The other operations are usually very poorly executed (or avoided altogether)
• Avoid tasks that are perceived as difficult and likely to result in a wrong answer
• Have weak mental arithmetic skills
• Have high levels of mathematics anxiety.
Supporting Employees in the Workplace
An employer is legally obliged to provide assistance under the Equality Act 2010 to an individual that suspects they have dyscalculia. They have a duty of care to ensure that employees with dyslexia are not treated unfavourably and are offered reasonable adjustments or support.
If a need for further screening is identified, Weston College are able to screen individuals using an online tool called GL Assessment, which will identify if they have any indicators of Dyslexia or Dyscalculia. Please contact email@example.com if you would like to request a screener for an employee. Depending on the outcome of the screener, a formal diagnostic assessment may be desired and a referral to a consultant can be made.
This can cost around £425. Employers often contribute to the cost of an assessment.
It is important that the assessment is carried out by either Specialist Teachers (AMBDA qualified) or Chartered, or Occupational Psychologists. If you are having a diagnostic assessment in order to claim for the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) then the assessor needs to have a current Assessment Practising Certificate (APC). The diagnostic report should include a thorough conclusion of assessment findings, as well as recommendations for supporting the individual at home/school/work.
If you have an employee that is Dyscalculic it is important to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace that will help reduce stress, increase morale and motivation, aiding reduced staff turnover and sickness leave.
Effective changes within the workplace don't have to be expensive or time-consuming. It is often small organisational changes that can help an individual get the very best from their employees and make a dramatic difference.
It is important to discuss and identify with the employee what adjustments would be beneficial. Things to consider may include:
• Link maths to relevant and practical contexts
• Use a scaffolding approach, breaking the task down into steps. With time for recap and consolidation
• Avoid putting the individual on the spot. Allow them time to think the task through and complete the necessary calculations
• Minimise the amount of information that has to be held in their mind at any one time
• Allow the individual to use visual and kinaesthetic resources to aid their understanding
• Provide prepared formats for recording information
• Encourage the routine: Estimate, Calculate, Check
• Ask questions using varied vocabulary to check understanding
• Encourage use of visual depictions to aid the completion of a task
• Ensure information is not presented too closely together to avoid confusion and frustration
• If relevant to task present lists of symbols, mathematical terminology for an individual to refer back to.
Although employers are bound by the Equality Act 2010 to treat employees fairly, some demonstrate that they are particularly positive about employing and retaining disabled people and they demonstrate this by placing a' disability confident’ symbol on their job adverts.
The disability confident symbol is a government initiative, which aims to encourage an employer to make specific commitments regarding the employment of disabled people. These commitments are:
• To interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for a job vacancy and to consider them on their abilities
• To discuss with disabled employees, at any time but at least once a year, what both parties can do to make sure disabled employees can develop and use their abilities
• To make every effort when employees become disabled to make sure they stay in employment
• To take action to ensure that all employees develop the appropriate level of disability awareness needed to make these commitments work
• To review these commitments each year and assess what has been achieved, plan ways to improve on them and let employees and Jobcentre Plus know about progress and future plans.
If an employer engages in this scheme, an individual with a disability is guaranteed an interview if they meet the minimum conditions for the job vacancy.
Please visit: https://disabilityconfident.campaign.gov.uk, to learn more about this scheme.
If you would like to learn more about different learning difficulties, Weston College offer a range of online CPD courses to further your knowledge and understanding. Courses on offer include:
• Awareness of Mental Health Certificate (level 2)
• Behaviour that Challenges (level 2)
• Specific Learning Difficulties (level 2)
• Understanding Autism (level 2)
• Working with Learners with Specific Learning Disabilities (level 2)
• Working with People with Mental Health Needs (level 2)
Alternatively, if you would like any bespoke training delivered in a specific area please don’t hesitate to contact the apprenticeship support team to discuss this further.