Welcome to Amanda Davey Dyscalculia
Updated: Aug 15, 2019
Thank you for visiting my website and taking the time to read this blog post. I wanted to start by giving you an idea of who I am and what led me to develop this website.
During the course of my 24 years of teaching, I have developed a passion for helping children that struggle with maths. Seeing a student finally realise that fractions aren't as scary as they think or that long division IS possible brings me joy every time.
7 years ago I responded to an email shared by my headteacher at the time, which advertised government-funded dyslexia training for teachers. The aim was that there should be at least one dyslexia specialist in every school, although I'm not sure that ever came to fruition. Responding to that email changed the course of my career and has led to me to one of the most exciting and fulfilling times of my life.
After 18 months balancing a part-time teaching role, private tutoring and a Post Graduate Certificate of Education in Specific Learning Disorders, I qualified as a specialist teacher assessor of children with dyslexia. I moved away from class teaching to work as a Learning Support teacher in schools across Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, mainly on a one-to-one basis.
I supported both maths and literacy during my time in Learning Support, but I realised that I gained far more satisfaction from helping children succeed in maths. As I have always shared with my students, I also found maths challenging at school and will never forget being told in front of my whole Year 9 set that my scores were too low for me to continue in that class. I wasn't clever enough. The memory of that moment is still as vivid to me now as the shame was then.
Unbeknown to me, my parents went into the school and insisted that I be allowed to remain in that set. Thanks to many a late night sat up with my dad going through the syllabus, I was actually able to sit my exam a year early and even achieve an A grade! To this day, I have a yearning to explain to that teacher the effect she had on me and show her that she was wrong to doubt my potential.
Of course, without the support of my parents, and my dad's understanding of maths and ability to help it make sense for me, I would never have reached that potential. And I think that's what drives me in my work. I never want a child to feel that way again because they feel they can't do maths.
Which leads me back to the work I'm doing now. In early 2017 I embarked on a second Post Graduate Certificate with Edge Hill University (who run distance-learning courses accredited by the British Dyslexia Association). This time the focus was dyscalculia, a specific learning difficulty that a lot of people haven't heard of yet. To try to explain it in simple terms, some refer to it as a 'number blindness', a maths version of dyslexia. It certainly has parallels if you consider the necessity of teaching a set of basic skills during a successful intervention, as suggested by Mahesh Sharma, a leading expert in the field of maths learning problems (please see photo below).
However, it is important to understand that dyscalculia, although at one end of a spectrum of maths learning difficulties, is more than the struggles that most of us feel we have with maths (have you noticed how acceptable it is to say, "Ugh, I'm useless at maths and always was!", whereas very few people would speak so openly about reading or writing difficulties?). The dyscalculic person struggles to understand the concept of number, or the 'fiveness of five' as it is often referred to. I find a helpful analogy is to think of what you would do if someone asked you to collect 'kyoo' objects or gave you a calculation written using Japanese numerals:
As bad as this would feel to most of us, my friend Stephanie helped me to understand other ways in which it affects one's life - from finding time and money impossible to deal with, to the difficulty of memorising a PIN or even one's own date of birth. I will talk about dyscalculia in more detail in my next post, but I thought it would be worth giving you a sense of what having dyscalculia must be like.
As I write this I'm about to embark on the most exciting teaching role of my life - the chance to be a part of a team that will be opening the doors to the first alternative provision for children with specific learning disorders, such as dyslexia and dyscalculia, in the Thames Valley. I will be in charge of dyscalculia provision and simply cannot wait to get started.
Not only do I want to work with children, I want to be involved in helping other teachers in mainstream schools learn how to identify and help the child with dyscalculia. Research into, and understanding of, this learning difficulty is estimated to be 30 years behind dyslexia and there are thousands of children around the country that need informed interventions to develop their understanding of number.
This is my motivation for setting up the Amanda Davey Dyscalculia website. I'm hoping to take my expertise to schools around the South East of England and present twilight training sessions that I think will be of great benefit to both teachers and pupils alike. My workshops are well-researched, fun and informative! And you'll leave with a whole host of activity ideas, book recommendations and websites to visit.
So with that I shall leave you to spread the word! If you are involved with any schools that you think would be interested in finding out about my services, please pass on the website and email addresses. Or simply share this blog post. Thank you again for the interest you have shown.