Cellfield Reading Matters UK

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Cellfield Reading Matters UK

Tackling all kinds of educational issues was part of the day-to-day routine for Fiona Macdiarmid in her career as a teacher and primary school head in Glasgow.

Each day, a bustling school environment brought many different challenges, but Fiona loved being involved and, even more, loved helping children to enjoy their school days, no matter what. Today, Fiona is still working with children – and adults as well – and still helping them to improve their lives but in far quieter surroundings, and in a more specialised manner through a company she set up in 2009 to deliver a unique approach to overcome dyslexia and related issues. That company is Cellfield Reading Matters UK with its headquarters in Scion House at Stirling University Innovation Park.

Fiona has trained licensees in Edinburgh, Manchester, South Yorkshire, Southampton and Essex but demand for the licence to deliver the computerbased programme at the heart of Cellfield’s services is increasing with a new centre now open in Bromsgrove with further inquiries coming in from London.

“Learning to read and write is one of the most difficult things we do,” said Fiona. “In our digital led modern world, where so much of how we communicate is written, being able to read and process language has never been more important. “Yet many people struggle because they suffer from dyslexia or similar language processing issues. It can be hugely debilitating so that’s why we believe the work we’re doing here at Cellfield is changing people’s lives in a big way.”

The symptoms of dyslexia are varied but it is typically defined as having significant difficulties with reading, writing and spelling. Cellfield is now in a position to help even more children – and adults – overcome dyslexia and similar processing difficulties in weeks rather than years.

Fiona and her team in Stirling offer the Cellfield treatment programme that is focused on the science of brain plasticity. She is also available to support the other licensees in the UK. Since 2009, it has helped over 200 families in Scotland.  It was pioneered in Australia and is provided by university-trained professionals who work with children aged eight-plus as well as adults. This involves, after initial assessments, ten, one-hour daily sessions followed up by Phase 2 of Cellfield, which involves the client in reading silently and aloud every day for ten weeks.

“In many ways you could say the process is a bit like learning to ride a bike,” said Fiona. “A child is, naturally, cautious to start with as they are wobbly and need a lot of conscious effort to stay on the bike. But when the pieces fall into place, everything becomes smoother with a lot less conscious effort. With reading, it has to be taught and mastered gradually. The children we see learn to build up from simple tasks like learning letters and sounds before higher level tasks such as comprehension are tackled.”

Cellfield evaluates clients in order to measure progress and also to validate the effectiveness of the programme. Clients have reported many positive outcomes from undertaking the Cellfield programme – increased selfbelief, confidence and concentration, amongst others. By assessing clients before and after the 10 days at Cellfield (and again at least six months later) Fiona and her team are able to measure gains in a client’s reading age.

“It is a brilliant feeling when someone makes progress and suddenly ‘gets it’,” said Fiona. “It’s also wonderful and moving when children, their parents and adult clients, feed back someone’s progress or achievements. It can be very emotional but proves that what Cellfield offers works, and works very well.”

Such testimonies were heard at the recent International Cellfield Conference in Stirling, the first time it had been held in the UK and with Cellfield’s inventor, Dimitri Caplygin making his first visit to Scotland.

“What we do is humbling on so many levels,” said Fiona, who also established the Kip McGrath Education Centre in 2002, where more than 250 students a week are tutored in Maths and English.  “With the Cellfield programme, we are involved in a delicate, precise and sometimes difficult business, where there’s only one single aim, which is to help people overcome reading difficulties. And that’s all we focus on.”

Visit their website for more information www.cellfield.co.uk

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