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National Learning Network Highlights Importance of Learning Assessments

07 September 2012

Research* has found that up to 10 per cent of the population has a specific learning difficulty, which may include dyslexia, dyspraxia, Asperger's syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These learning difficulties can present challenges that can impact upon a person’s reading, spelling, handwriting, study skills, organisational abilities and more. A learning assessment can help people to identify these changes and provide solutions to deal with these, which can greatly enhance students’ educational experiences.

According to National Learning Network’s Learning and Assessment Service, a key element of academic success is student and teacher understanding of how individuals learn best and how to use that to their advantage. National Learning Network, part of the Rehab Group, provides high-quality training to people with disabilities and others who are distant from the labour market. Each year more than 5,000 people avail of its specialist supports from 50 centres across Ireland, with more than 90 per cent of students progressing to jobs, further education or training. Continuous professional development, educational assessment and disability support services are also provided to over 8,000 beneficiaries annually.

Suzanne McCarthy, educational psychologist with National Learning Network says, “With one in ten people experiencing a specific learning difficulty, many school pupils and students have had some negative experiences in their education as a result. Identification of learning difficulties has come on significantly in recent years, so that more and more people can address their learning and working techniques and seek access to supports that they may need.

“People have different learning styles, and can be visual learners, auditory learners, kinaesthetic learners or a mix of all of these. Visual learners learn best by seeing information in many colours and formats. Images, pictures, diagrams, charts, mind maps and videos are an integral part of the learning process for visual learners. Auditory learners learn best by hearing information and use listening and speaking to maximise their learning, e.g. through music, mnemonics, debates and discussions. Kinaesthetic learners learn best while keeping active and undertaking movement – active strategies include playing games, demonstrations, creating mind maps, drawing images and moving while reading.

“At National Learning Network we help people to identify their learning difficulties as well as strengths and weaknesses through simple tools. Knowing more about how you learn or study can be a real help in preparing for exams and everyday learning. Ensuring an individual is learning in the best possible way for them will reduce their risk of being ‘left behind’ and will help to boost self-esteem.”

National Learning Network’s multi-disciplinary team of educational psychologists, clinical psychologists, occupational therapists and other trained professionals conduct learning assessments and provide practical solutions, advice and strategies enabling individuals to address difficulties. Consultations can also be provided to parents and teachers following a student’s assessment.

National Learning Network’s Learning and Assessment Service provides assessments and support for children (aged 5 years and upwards), adolescents and adults with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia and dyspraxia (also known as developmental co-ordination disorder or DCD). Staff members also provide functional strategies and support for other associated specific processing/learning difficulties, such as Asperger's syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

To find out more, contact Denise Richardson at 01 885 1386, email or log onto


*McCarthy, S. “An Investigation into the level of awareness and understanding of Specific Learning Difficulties among education professionals from pre-school level to third level education.” A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Higher Diploma in Professional Psychology (Educational), Psychological Society of Ireland, June 2006