School Values and Mission
What makes us different?
Our Philosophy – A Unique Formula for Success
Shapwick’s motto 'The same roads by different steps' rings true in everything throughout the school. Shapwick provides specialist dyslexic teaching in classes with a 8:1 pupil to teacher ratio. The environment is built for children with dyslexia – where pupils feel the same as everyone else.
As a result pupils' self-esteem and confidence grows. They feel happy, fulfilled, confident and most importantly of all they are given the same opportunities as children who do not have dyslexia. Shapwick does not believe in specialist dyslexic units situated within a mainstream school where a child may feel different. If you have a poor working memory and weak phonological processing then you have those weaknesses in every lesson, activity and break, not just in a daily literacy lesson. Shapwick teachers understand the things that make a difference and their experience, results and feedback from parents, pupils and teachers demonstrates that Shapwick’s unique formula works.
The purpose of our school is to create an educational environment which repudiates dyslexia as a barrier to successful learning, so giving each pupil the confidence to realise his/her potential. In this context we aim to produce socially aware, socially acceptable and responsible young people who are fully prepared for further education, higher education or employment and thus take their place in society and have the skills to play a full role.
How Shapwick differs.
All Shapwick staff are highly skilled, experienced and well qualified in the field of special educational needs, so teaching is tailored to the needs of a dyslexic throughout the whole curriculum. The school environment is very small and close knit so pupils feel safe and secure and able to try new experiences.
The teaching approaches used by Shapwick differ greatly to mainstream schools. In the early 1980s Dr. Harry Chasty (a pioneer in Specific Learning Difficulties - SpLD) visited the school, his dictum was “If children can't learn the way you teach, can you teach the way they learn?” This was influential to Shapwick and inspired the teaching methods employed by the school. As a result all teachers are highly flexible and creative; and individualise the teaching approaches/styles used to ensure their pupils learn. Teaching is tailored so to be pupil-responsive.
A multi-sensory approach using auditory, visual and kinaesthetic methods are used across the whole Shapwick curriculum. Most mainstream teaching is done, almost in default mode, using either sight or hearing. However dyslexics may have difficulties with either visual or auditory memory, or both, despite having perfectly satisfactory hearing and sight. Vision may be affected by difficulties with tracking or visual processing. For example some dyslexics find it hard to follow a sequence of words on one line and may lose their place, others, for example, are amazed when they are told that there are gaps between the words, particularly in telephone directories! Research suggests that by involving more of the senses, especially touch and movement, gives the dyslexics brain more memories supporting the visual and auditory ones.
Self-esteem plays a huge part in a child’s success and being in a school where a child is suddenly not different, where he/she is not having to ‘compete’ against non-dyslexics who can ‘apparently’ work quickly and easily is hugely helpful in developing and maintaining that self-esteem and building self-confidence.
Many pupils leave Shapwick to go on to university, but whatever path they take Shapwick gives them the confidence to believe in themselves, understand that they have strengths and weaknesses like the rest of us and believe that anything is possible – their dyslexia will not hold them back.