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Workshop Manual – Overview

What are DAI Workshops?

Workshops are designed to provide specialist tuition and support for children and young people with dyslexia and support and advice for their families.  Workshops are open to children and young people, between the ages of seven and eighteen, who have been assessed as dyslexic.  The Workshop is complementary to the work done in school, but also has a significantly different focus and ethos that at its core recognises the emotional and confidence aspects of dyslexia as well as the core literacy and related difficulties.  The Workshop aims to make learning a pleasant and satisfying experience.  Workshops run for two terms a year (of between10-14 weeks) on a once-per week basis for two hours per night.  Workshops are run on a not for profit basis. Membership of the National Association is the mandatory to allow attendance at a workshop.

In order for participants to get the maximum benefit from the Workshop they should commit to attending for the full term and cooperate fully with the programme and direction offered.

Workshops are financed through tuition fees and fundraising activities.  However, each Workshop, supported by staff in National Office,  is responsible for keeping their respective operations viable. This means in practice there have to be set limits on how many subsidised services can be offered each year, and funded places should be targeted to those in greatest need.

The Workshop is directed by the Workshop Coordinator.  Implementation of the educational programme shall be the responsibility of the Workshop Coordinator.  Parents’ Committee supports the day-to-day running of Workshops by carrying out tasks which support the tutoring activities e.g. organising library, refreshments, supervising break-time.

The aims of a Workshop are to:

  • provide educational services and facilities for children with dyslexia, wherever feasible.
  • increase awareness locally of specific learning difficulty/dyslexia as it affects both adults and children.
  • lobby locally for better service provision by the state, through representations to local politicians, councillors, school inspectors.
  • operate as a support system for people with dyslexia and their families locally.
  • promote information and education about dyslexia through talks, meetings and use of local media.
  • contribute to the development of policy and direction of the national organisation through representation on and contact with the National Executive Committee and on the educational front by contact with other Workshops and teachers.


National Network of Workshops

Previously the terminology of ‘Branches’ was used to describe the locally based services including the Workshop.  This term was discontinued in summer 2017 as it was felt to be more reflective of the now discontinued system of affiliation where the Parents at a local level were employers.  From January 2017 Workshops are directly managed from the National Office whilst still being supported by the local Parents’ Committee.



A Workshop is described as being a Dyslexia Association of Ireland Workshop, and as such the branding would be to describe a Workshop as “the Waterford Dyslexia Association of Ireland Workshop”.  Workshops must use the official DAI logo and Charity number on all communications and promotional material e.g. letterhead, brochures, posters and websites/social media.   It is important to have clear, consistent branding in all DAI Workshops. The DAI logo is available electronically from the national office.


Map of the Manual

This manual is set out in five sections:

  1. Overview (this section) Employment
  2. Employment
  3. Finance
  4. Educational Programme
  5. Parents

Links to relevant pages, forms or websites are included in the body of the text.  A web-based version of this guidance has been preferred to a hard copy as from summer 2017 to allow easier access to the relevant information, and quicker ability to update information as required.


Communication Between National Office and DAI Workshops

It is very important to keep in touch with the National Association.  This can be done through communication with the Head of Psychological and Educational Services and the BFA as required.


Each Workshop as a Website page that lists contact details, dates for forthcoming current term. And the Booking Form (bespoke) or explanation that it is full up. Payment methods/options are also outlined here.

All Workshops have a email address.  This is the primary method of communication and the Coordinator should have access to this email address.  Others may also have joint access to thtis account (e.g. a member of the Parents’ Committee) and the day to day practicalities of any joint accees should be worked out at local level (e.g. who is replying to emails etc).  The national office also have a list of phone numbers and individual Coordinators contact details which they may use to get in touch.  Staff in the nAtional Office aca  be contacted as per beow  contact details.

Donald Ewing

Head of Psychological and Educational Services

(01) 877 6001

085 7525 980


Donald is the person to contact with queries regarding all operation of Branches and Workshops, except for finance issues. Donald can be contacted at any time and often visits workshops to meet with Committee members, teaching staff and parents.  He is available for presentations and talks within the workshop or to a wider community audience (e.g. local libraries).


Mary Scully

Workshop Finance Administrator

(01) 877 6001

08x xxx xxxx


Mary is …


Key Planning Tools

The budget planner for each workshop is a key planning document and from summer 2017 will be brought in to allow transparent discussion about workshop finance issues.  This includes information about the workshop and how many tuors are employed, pupils attending and fee being charged.  It is intended to allow certainty that a workshop is financially viable and each DAI Workshop must operate within its own means on a termly basis. The imary income is Wrkshop fees, and some fundraising and this needs to coer the costs of teachers pay and Revenue rentm etty cash, bad debt provision, materials etc.


Booking Places in a DAI Workshop

Completed forms should be returned to the National Office and if required deposits must also be lodged to guarantee a place in a DAI Workshop (Workshops do different things when it comes to the amount of deposits).  The list of who has booked a place is maintained by Mary in the National Office and is regularly shared with the Workshop Coordinator (via the email address).  If the Coordinator or a Parents’ Committee member receives a booking form at local level then they should pass this on to the national Office (Mary Scully) who will update the list accordingly.  If anyone joins mid-term, or leaves mid-term for legitimate reasons then the Workshop personnel must inform Mary Scully so she can adjust payment details, if required, in a timeous fashion.


Signing In and Out Procedure

All Workshops should be operating a sign in and sign out procedure for children, tutors/staff, and volunteer parents.  A template for this is available here.  A rota of volunteer parents should be organised so that at each Workshop there are at least 2 parents assigned to sign in/sign out duties.          


Parents should sign in when they drop off their child, and sign out when they collect their child when the workshop is over.  This is for the protection of all concerned and to ensure that children are not left unaccompanied at any stage, Workshop staff are not repsonsble for children on the premises outside the hours of the Workshop.  All Workshops must operate this system for everyone’s protection.



Data Protection and Confidentiality

All Workshops and National Office treat sensitive and confidential information in line with the best practice and legislative requirements of relevant Data Protection Guidance, in line with DAI’s Policy on Data Protection.

Quality Assurance and Complaints

The DAI is committed to ensure that the services provided through its nationwide network of Workshops is of the best quality are run in ways that ensure the most effective and highest impact and outcomes for pupils and their famiies.  We conduct a twice yearly seurvey of all parents and pupils (where deemed appropriate by parents) and analyse, share and use this information to continousoly improve our services.

If there are any queries or complaints then these should at the first instance be directed to the local Workshop Corrinstaor.  If issues remain unrelsolved then either the parent of Coordnatr can contact Donadl Ewng HOPES.  We are committed to resolving any issues and to ensure that all pupils can get the best out of the Workshops.


Support and Development

DAI Workshops are overseen by Donald Ewing (HOPES) and HOPES line manages all the Workshop Coordinators, who inteurn manage the Tutors (and Assistant Coordinators where applicable).  Donald is in regular touch with Workshops and aims to visit each Workshop once a term although this is sometimes  not possible to do every term as it is required to plan these vsists (26 Workshops) over a very concentrated period of time each Autumn and Spring terms.  Donald can be contacted at any time to discuss any Workshop related issue.

DAI has historically runs at least two development days annually Workshops where personnel from all over the country are invited to Dublin for a day of development or training activities.   Given the distances and times involved for some Workshops it is envisaged that this may be done on a more geographic cluster basis, or more virtual sessions, with potential use of webinars or video recorded information sessions.


Due to the geographical spread of Workshops throughout the country, inter-Workshop communication and co-operation can be very valuable. Experienced Workshop personnel are an invaluable source of information and advice at local level, both for new and existing Workshops.  Workshops are also encouraged to liaise with local Workshops around fundraising and may decide to join together for joint fundraising ventures and then split the proceeds. Contact details for all Workshops are available on the DAI website.



Establishing A New Workshop

Any parents wishing to establish a Workshop in their area should firstly notify Donald Ewing, Head of Psychological and Educational Services.    Establishing a Workshop can be a difficult task and requires a substantial amount of time (usually 6 months), effort and fundraising (a minimum of €100 per student to create an appropriate reserve).


It is important to firstly establish if people in your area feel there is a need to provide support and services for children with dyslexia.  It can be helpful to make contact with existing DAI Branches in your region who are great sources of information and advice.


When there is a certain amount of awareness locally, a public meeting should be arranged by the ad hoc Parents’ Committee.  Publicity can be arranged by contacting a local paper or radio station, and other traditional (posters, fliers) and social media (Facebook etc) methods.  Often a brief talk about dyslexia and then a question and answer session can form the basis for establishing if there is sufficient demand and interest in a local Workshop. HOPES or another member of the National Office team can be invited attend the meeting to assist. Ensure than an attendance list is kept.


In addition on the night of the public meeting a pre-enrolment waiting list should be established based on those parents who are saying they would commit to sending there chid(ren).  Others wh were not in attendace on the night of the pblci meetig but who had expressed interest should also be cntactd.   The size of this list will give an idea on the level f dmand.  Please note that to establish a new workshop there needs to be a minimum of twenty five children expressing interest in attending.


Parents should be aware that being placed on this waiting list does not guarantee a place in the Workshop and that this decision is made by the Workshop Coordinator on the receipt of Booking Form and deposits.


If there is suitbale level of demand he next step would be to investigate suitable premises. A local school/college is often the best option, as there will be suitable accommodation and parking.  Aim to pay a nominal rent, as it is best to establish a business relationship with the school’s management, as free stuff can become awkward if issues arise that need to be addressed – as they no doubt will.




It is mandatory that Workshop Tutors working in the Workshop have completed the DAI Dyslexia Primary for Primary School Teachers Course.   DAI runs approximately five of these each year both in Dublin and around the country.  These courses are 15 hours in length and are delivered over three consecutive Saturdays.  You may wish to request a DAI course is planned locally in order to provide a bank of suitably trained tutors.




Fundraising needs to be high on the list of priorities, and if a group is hoping to open a Workshop, it will be a priority.  An amount of some €2,500 to €3,000 would need to be on hand before it is realistic to think of starting a Workshop. Some of this fund will go towards providing teaching equipment for the Workshop. Insurance cover can be arranged which will facilitate the holding of fundraising events.  Fundraising and grant applications are made easier by being part of a recognised national body – our registered charity number is CHY No. 10044.  See DAI’s Fundraising Policy



Closing a Workshop

Should the Workshop decide to cease operations it is imperative the WC contacts HOPES immediately to update on any changes that may occur, whether there is a change of Branch Officers or problems occurring within the Branch/Workshop, so that support can be offered to address any difficult issues in a timely manner.


There are many issues to be addressed at closure especially around financial procedures, discharging outstanding debts, informing Revenue that the Branch is ceasing to operate as an employer, dealing with the Branch records and data held, etc.  It is critical that these issues are all addressed appropriately, with the guidance of the key National Office staff.


Materials acquired during the operation of the Workshop remain the property of DAI..  After all debts have been discharged by the Branch, any remaining assets, whether in cash or materials, shall be given to the National Association to be used in securing the aims and objectives of the Association.


Health and Safety

The primary consideration of the DAI and all Branch and Workshop personnel is the safety and well-being of students, tutors, staff, volunteers and visitors.  The physical safety of all parties must be ensured through vigilance and proper procedures.   As most of our Workshops are held on school premises, there should not be a problem meeting health and safety requirements.   Ensuring health and safety is a common sense activity.  If there is any obvious risk in a classroom or corridor (for example, schoolbags left lying around, or – an extreme example – exposed electrical wires) then immediate action should be taken to deal with the danger.  It is not necessary to call in outside specialists to do safety checks unless there is a specific area of concern.   The focus for Worskhops will be to ensure that safety is maintained while the Workshop is in operation.


It is also important to ensure that the Workshops are conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect.  Students must show courtesy and consideration to tutors and fellow students.  Teachers should be aware of any attitudes or actions within the class setting which might result in verbal or physical aggression between students, as bullying can occur in almost any setting.  If a tutor becomes aware of any situation within the Workshop which could affect the physical or emotional well-being of a student, or students, the matter should be reported to the Workshop Coordinator or other relevant authority immediately.  The same standards of care in relation to child protection which apply in mainstream schools should be observed in DAI Workshops.



Reporting Accidents

In the event of an accident happening to a child or adult on Workshop/Branch premises the insurance company should be notified immediately, whether or not a claim is being made by the affected party.  The CEO should also be notified, as should the Board of Management of the premises.  A sample Accident Report Form is in included in this Manual.  This should be completed as soon as possible after the accident. A copy should be kept on file by the Workshop/Branch, and copies should be sent to the CEO at national office and to our insurance company.


First Aid

Each Workshop should have a basic first aid box available on the premises, for minor first aid.  Workshops do not need to have someone qualified in first aid present during Workshop hours.  We have been informed in a telephone conversation with the Health and Safety Authority that schools are considered low risk working environments, and as such do not require the mandatory presence of qualified first aiders.  However, if a qualified occupational first aider is available (e.g. a Committee member, parent, volunteer or Workshop teacher) it would be important that they are known and that all staff and volunteers know who to contact for first aid treatment, should the need arise.


Critical Incidents

From time to time a member of the Workshop community may be touched by some tragic life experience.  Such an experience touches the lives of all in the community.  Children in particular may be bewildered and shocked and have little experience or coping skills to draw on.  While other groups to which our Workshop participants belong may be dealing with the incident it may happen that questions and issues will emerge in the more informal atmosphere of the Workshop.  It is important that we have a procedure that will support all involved to deal with the situation appropriately.  See this link for more information




See the DAI Lobbying Policy (20151128) for more information.




Charities Legislation

The purpose of the Charities Act is to reform the law relating to charities in order to ensure accountability and to protect against abuse of charitable status and fraud. It is also designed to enhance public trust and confidence in charities and increase transparency in the sector. The Bill provides for a regulatory framework for charities.


Key aspects which the Act provides for include:


  • a definition of ”charitable purpose” for the first time in primary legislation
  • the creation of a new Regulatory Authority to secure compliance by charities with their legal obligations and also to encourage better administration of charities
  • a Register of Charities in which all charities operating in the State must register
  • the submission of annual activity reports by charities to the new Authority
  • updating the law relating to fund-raising, particularly in relation to collections by way of direct debits and similar non-cash methods
  • the creation of a Charity Appeals Tribunal
  • the provision of consultative panels to assist the Authority in its work and to ensure effective consultation with stakeholders


The Charities Regulator, there is a lot of information that they are likely to require. For a National Association such as the Dyslexia Association which also has many Branches nationwide, the National Office will need to collect data from all of the Branches each year, so we can submit an overall account of the activities of the whole association.


The kind of information that the Charities Regulator is likely to require is:


  • Copies of Memorandum and Articles of Association, Bye-laws, etc.
  • Information about our area of operation, i.e. locations nationwide
  • Bank details for charitable funds, i.e. details of accounts at National and Branch level
  • What activities will be carried out to reach organisational objectives
  • How our organisation, both nationally and at Branch level, raises funds
  • The amount of funds raised in recent years, again both at National and Branch level
  • Plans for funding specific activities
  • Details of risk assessments and checks/safeguards for organisations working with vulnerable people, i.e. Health and Safety, Child Protection Policy, Garda Vetting, safe recruitment and selection procedures, etc.
  • Details of the National Association’s and Branches gross income for the last financial year.
  • A copy of the financial accounts for the last year. DAI will have to collate the financial reports from all of the Branches. This is why the accounting year for Branches/Workshops must be from January to December, and all Branches should present accounts using the Excel template provided with re-affiliation documentation.


When the Charities Regulator is in place (expected in 2014), and when we know exactly what will be required, we will be in contact with all Branches. The information required by the new Charities Regulator is not much more than Branches are currently asked to provide to the National Association each year as part of the re-affiliation procedure. The whole purpose of this legislation is greater accountability and to ensure best practice and proper procedures. Therefore, it is to the benefit of all genuine charities such as DAI, and will only increase our good reputation.


In exceptional circumstances, if Branches are not operating to DAI guidelines and not complying with relevant legislation, then they may be dis-affiliated, for the protection of the Association and all the other Branches who operate according to DAI’s best practice guidelines.  All possible efforts will be made by the National Association to assist Branches in complying with any requirements laid down by the Charities Regulator.  If Branches/Workshops have any difficulty, please do contact the National Association immediately for advice and support.


Accountability for funds raised will be a major issue for the Charities Regulator. In the light of this, DAI has developed Guidelines on Fundraising which must be followed by all Branches (see Appendix 5.8).



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DAI activities are part-funded by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Scheme to Support National Organisations 2016-2019 administered by Pobal), the Special Education Section of the Department of Education and Skills, SOLAS and KWETB.