Lunches and Lectures

Events – Winter Term 2008

Thursday 24th. January 2008 – Parent Representatives’ Lunch

Oak Hill Staff were pleased to welcome five parent representatives from local International Schools to an informal lunch. Two parents from Campus des Nations, two from Collège du Léman, and one from La Châtaigneraie attended and, after a tour of the school, enjoyed a delicious lunch. Oak Hill staff and our visiting parents were joined by Paul Nichols, our Regional Schools Attuned Director, and also the deputy head of a school for students with learning difficulties in Oxford, U.K. During lunch, there was a lively exchange of information and much discussion about the difficulties parents face in getting the provision they need for their children with learning difficulties. Many thanks to Jayne and Lilian for preparing a sumptuous lunch.


31st. January 2008‘Developmental Dyspraxia: Identification and Intervention’

A lecture by Dr. Madeleine Portwood

Dr. Portwood is a Senior Educational Psychologist for Durham County Council, an Honourary Fellow of Durham University and an Educational Director of the Dyspraxia Foundation.

Sue, Jayne and Chris attended this interesting lecture which covered a discussion of the neurological principles underlying dyspraxia and its comorbidity with Dyslexia, ADHD and Austistic Spectrum Disorders. She outlined the development of the brain and the possible causes of immaturity. Of particular interest was discussion regarding the effects of nutrition on behaviour and learning. Dr. Portwood described the cognitive profile and motor skills screening associated with dyspraxia and the success of intervention programmes.

One of the most interesting aspects of the evening was the debate about nutritional supplements, especially those containing the key long-chain fatty acids, EPA, DHA and GLA, as found in fish and plant oils. It would seem that one of the crucial factors in the latest research, is the importance of taking EPA and DHA in the correct ratio.

Another interesting point made by Dr. Portwood, was the gender difference in brain development, which possibly puts boys at a disadvantage when learning to read in a mainstream school situation. Being, in general, later than girls to make shifts to right-hemisphere brain functioning may mean that boys miss out on grasping phonological awareness, that is normally taught in the first two years of school.

Final message from Dr. Portwood -

‘A child’s success depends upon his feeling of well-being.’


26th February 2008 – OPEN HOUSE

The staff were delighted to welcome nineteen visitors for the second Open House at Oak Hill School. Our guests included parents, Primary and Secondary class teachers, Learning Support staff, an Educational Psychologist and a Speech and Language Therapist. Representatives from a Parent Teacher Association and the Association Dyslexie Suisse-Romande (aDsr) were also present.

Our guests were treated to three demonstration lessons of reading, written language and maths provided by two groups of students and our staff. The children thoroughly enjoyed showing off their skills and providing their fascinated audience with insights into the techniques employed at Oak Hill, which makes them such successful learners.

After the students had left to return to their Home Schools, Oak Hill teachers gave a short presentation to the assembled group. This covered the history of Oak Hill School, the research base and a brief overview of the methodology used. A lively question and answer session followed.


Dear Parents,

We Oak Hill teachers often get asked,
“What do you do in the afternoons?”
Well, no, we don’t actually put our feet up and have a snooze! Just for your info., here are a few of the things that we have been up to in the last couple of weeks.

Jayne, as Home School Coordinator has been out and about, visiting Home Schools and talking to class teachers, learning support staff and Principals. She has visited Campus des Nations, La Grande Boissière and Haut-Lac. We were delighted to welcome Karen Hooper from La Châtaigneraie here one afternoon and had a long and informative chat with her. In addition Marcia Banks, Deputy Principal from La Grande Boissière Primary Section spent the morning with us, observing her students and deepening her understanding of our methodology.

We are very pleased (and relieved) to announce that our new Objectives Programme is now up and running, after our worthy technician Boris from Oak Foundation spent a lot of time and energy tracking down licenses for the correct, updated operating system. So we have been busy, beavering away at entering the updated objectives for the last half year for all our students. If you notice that our eyes are rather square and we are tinged a gentle shade of green, you will understand why! We will have the Objectives ready for you before the Spring Break.

Our Open House, on 26th February, was an excellent event. Your children did a splendid job of demonstrating their skills and showing our visitors ‘how it should be done’! We missed our LGB boys, who were on a skating trip with their class, but let’s face it , which would you rather do? See below for a short report on Open House.

Last Monday, Oak Hill hosted the staff meeting of Geneva English School. With their new Headmaster, Mr Gareth Davies, eleven members of their teaching staff were treated to tea and biscuits and a demonstration of the reading, writing and maths lessons. They were very impressed with our programme and we look forward to working together to support more of their students in the future.

Under the leadership of its new Principal, M. Alain Delaune, the Collège du Léman is a school which is developing closer ties with Oak Hill. During this week and next we will be receiving three visits from them, with a total of seven teachers observing our lessons and discovering the beauty of Hill Center Methodology! As one of them remarked this morning “It’s just so efficient!”


3rd March 2008 – Dr. Duncan Milne on ‘Teaching the Brain to Read’

Our intrepid teachers have also been burning the midnight oil a little. They braved the rain to attend this fascinating lecture at Webster University.

Dr Duncan Milne, an Educational Neuropsychologist, is the author of ‘Teaching the Brain to Read’, a teacher-friendly version of his PhD in Education and Psychology. Much of Duncan’s research involved advanced brain-imaging techniques including fMRI and EEG. At the same time, Duncan worked with under-privileged children at the University of Auckland Reading Centre. He is passionate about dyslexia, both from a research and an intervention perspective. Duncan is also a director of BESA, Smart Kids, and a speaker for NASEN.

Based on ‘cutting-edge’ research, this lecture explored ‘what the brain must learn to read effectively’. In this lecture Dr. Milne discussed

* the neural circuitry behind reading acquisition; and

* the potential causes of disruption(s) within the reading system.

The first part focussed on how modules are connected together to create the reading system. Emphasis was given to teaching methods and the benefits of balanced literacy. The second part considered how the ‘phonological model’ can describe poor reading at the behavioural level, while a ‘neurological model’ can explain the various heterogeneous typologies observed clinically.


12th March 2008

Farewell and Thanksalexptt.jpg Today we had a special celebration to mark, not only the end of the Winter Term, but also to say our farewells to Alex who is leaving Oak Hill to become, once again, a full-time student at Campus des Nations. Alex began working with Oak Hill staff in 2005 when he took part in RAP (the Reading Achievement Programme). In October 2006, he was one of our first four students. It gives us great pleasure to see Alex graduate from our programme as an avid reader with a confident, ‘can-do’ approach to school, and to life.

The Oak Hill staff would like to thank Alex’s parents for their unfailing support, and belief in the work we do. We count ourselves fortunate in having had such warm-hearted parents, as Lisa and Chris, when we started this new venture – and we will miss them.

We hope the Hodson family will come and visit us often!