2020 Certificate Course for Teachers of Students with Specific Learning Difficulties

The SPELD NSW Certificate course is not an Australian Qualification Framework qualification.

This specially tailored SPELD NSW course has been designed for learning support and mainstream classroom teachers of students who have specific learning difficulties who wish to update and enhance their skills and knowledge and for teachers wishing to become a SPELD NSW tutor. The course provides up-to-date, research-based information concerning the acquisition of literacy and numeracy skills and students with specific learning difficulties.

The course will be run on 6 weekends beginning 16 May and concluding 20 September 2020.

Teachers Certificate Course 2020 Information and App. Form (PDF)


Course Outcomes

The purpose of this course is to provide the skills and knowledge to:

  1. Understand how students learn and how learning difficulties can impact a student’s learning
  2. Evaluate the research on literacy and numeracy acquisition
  3. Develop specific programs to meet the needs of students with learning difficulties in the areas of vocabulary, reading, spelling, fluency, comprehension, written expression and numeracy
  4. Monitor and assess student learning


Course Structure

The course includes lectures, small group practical teaching activities, quizzes and group discussion.

Plus Assignments and Prescribed Readings to be completed outside the course hours

  • tutors neededA case study based on a spelling program – assessment of a child’s spelling, three lesson plans and evaluations.
  • A 1,000-word research paper on reading.
  • Prescribed Readings.


Participants will receive:

  • Course Materials for each session
  • Research papers for prescribed readings
  • A wide range of teaching resources and activities
  • Morning tea and lunch each day


Target Audience

  • K-6 primary school teachers
  • Learning Support teachers
  • Secondary School literacy and support teachers
  • Literacy tutors



Completing Certificate Course for Teachers of Students with Specific Learning Difficulties will contribute 66 hours and 0 minutes of QTC Registered PD addressing 1.1.2, 1.2.2, 1.3.2, 1.5.2, 2.1.2, 2.5.2, 3.2.2, 4.1.2, 5.4.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.



Weekend Course Dates

16 & 17 May 2020 How Students Learn and Learning Difficulties

30 & 31 May 2020 Oral Language and Vocabulary

27 & 28 June 2020 Phonemic Awareness, Phonics and Reading

25&26 July 2020 Spelling, Morphology Written Expression

22 & 23 August 2020 Fluency and Comprehension Numeracy

19 & 20 September 2020 Assessment, planning and monitoring. Assistive Technology. Numeracy


  • 9.00 am – 3.30 pm Saturdays
  • 9.00 am – 3.30 pm Sundays



SPELD NSW offices – Level 1, 52 O’Connell Street, Parramatta.



$2,600 (incl. GST) Individual membership worth $70 is included.

5 student teacher places are available at the Teachers Certificate Course for students completing their initial teacher education or within the first 2 years of completing their initial teacher education. The cost of a student teacher place is $1,800 (including GST).


Norma Cowper Scholarship for Regional Travel

A scholarship to assist a Department of Education Teacher from a NSW Regional area to undertake the 2019 course. Scholarship will go towards costs of travel and accommodation for the six weekends of the course. It does not include the Registration Fee. If you are interested in applying for this scholarship please email Georgina Perry at


Application, Payment and Refund Policy

Once participants have completed the application form, and received an acceptance notification, a deposit of $500 is required to secure your position in the Teachers Certificate Course. Full payment of course fees must be received by 15 April 2020. (Payment plans are available on application.)

The deposit is fully refundable prior to 1 February 2020. From 1 February 2020, 50% of the deposit is refundable. From 15 April 2020, no refunds are available unless another student is identified to take your place. There will be a $50 administration fee charged for any cancellations.


Course Educators

Lin Meeks, PhD. M.A. (Spec. Ed), B.A., Grad. Dip. Ed.

Lin is the Convenor of the Certificate Course for Teachers of Students with Specific Learning Difficulties. Currently, Lin is a PhD candidate at Macquarie University, researching the preparation of primary and early childhood pre-service teachers to teach evidence-based early literacy skills. Lin will introduce the course with spelling assessment and present the spelling weekend.

Sally Howell, PhD

Sally has been involved in the education of children with special needs both as a teacher and special education consultant for over 30 years. This has involved working in public, independent and Catholic schools as well as at a senior level in the NSW Department of Education. Sally has worked in a community-based disability organisation and as a special education lecturer at Macquarie University Special Education Centre. Recently she has provided advice to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) on the Literacy and Numeracy Learning Progressions and to the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) regarding curriculum and assessment. She has expertise in assessment and programming for children with difficulties in learning, particularly in the areas of reading and numeracy and extensive experience working collaboratively with parents and is currently the Principal of Macquarie University Special Education Centre School (MUSEC).  Sally will co-present the Reading Weekend with Robyn Armstrong.”


Robyn Armstrong, M Spec. Ed

Robyn has worked in the area of learning difficulties for over thirty years. This work has involved roles at a school, regional and state level. She has been a school counsellor with an interest in learning difficulties, a primary level support teacher and an Assistant Principal Learning Assistance. Robyn has been involved in initiatives that have provided support for students with significant reading difficulties, including Co-ordinator of the Special Education Support Centre in the Metropolitan West Region. She has been involved in the development and implementation of professional learning courses in the area of learning difficulties for teachers and support teachers. Robyn has always been committed to using research based programs and strategies to support students with difficulties in learning to read.   Co-presenting with Sally Howell (Reading).


Sally Robinson-Kooi B.Ed. (TESOL), Diploma of Teaching (Primary)

Sally is currently a Doctoral candidate at Edith Cowan University where she is conducting research on explicit instruction in components of literacy. She is an independent literacy and TESOL consultant providing NESA accredited professional development to teachers in primary schools.  She has worked with diverse socio-economic groups and NESB cultures in Australia and overseas and is trained in working with indigenous communities. In Victoria and NSW she taught both mainstream and EAL/D students in primary schools. At Macquarie University, she taught units on professional development, early literacy and ESL on the program for undergraduate primary teachers. Sally has published in Practically Primary on Grammar and Text Types. Sally will be presenting a half day on EAL/D, LDS or both and a half day on Grammar in Texts.

Toni Hopper,  PhD MACE, Dip Ed  MEd

Toni has over 30 years teaching experience. Toni has taught in Undergraduate courses in Education at both UTS and Wollongong University in Special education courses. For the last 9 years she has been a part time lecturer at Macquarie University where she has taught across a number of Units offered in postgraduate special education courses. She has been a reviewer for submissions to several peer reviewed journals and has written several of the MUSEC Briefings.    Toni is an independent educational advisor with a busy practice working with a wide range of students their parents and schools concerning students with special educational needs. Toni is a member of Australian College of Education and The Australian Association of Special Education and a Life member of SPELD NSW.   Toni has a special interest in numeracy and literacy and education for those working with children with special education needs.  Toni will be presenting Day 1 of the Maths weekend.


Samantha Hornery  PhD

Samantha is a primary and special education teacher who has worked in school and community settings teaching, developing, and managing educational programs for students with learning difficulties for over 20 years. She has extensive experience in the development and implementation of professional learning opportunities for teachers and health professionals. Samantha completed her PhD evaluating Learning Links’ Reading for Life Program and won the NSW Institute for Educational Research Outstanding Thesis in 2012. She appeared as an educational advisor in the ABC documentary, Kids on Speed? Supporting children with ADHD and their families. Recent professional learning presentations include “Maths and Learning Difficulties” (June 2016, Learning Difficulties Coalition NSW Inc), “Working as part of a team to meet the needs of students with learning difficulties” (October 2016, The Professional Association for Learning Support Inc), in addition to ongoing teaching professional learning at Learning Links.  Samantha will be presenting Written Expression and Day 2 of the Numeracy weekend.


Allison Greenland, PhD, Masters in Education

Allison Greenland is the founder and teacher at Leap into Literacy: Reading, Writing, & Creativity! She has completed a PhD in Curriculum and Teaching and holds a Masters’ degree in Education. Her research has focused specifically on reading comprehension strategies for children and successful learning techniques for students of all abilities. Allison has twelve years’ experience as a Primary teacher and most recently as a Gifted and Talented teacher for both primary and secondary students, and also spent several years teaching creative writing classes to adults. She has many years of experience working with students who have learning difficulties in both the mainstream classroom and through private tutoring. She loves sharing her passion for literacy not only with teachers but with children, including her own two with a third on the way!


Guest Speakers

Wendy Coggins – B. App. SC (Sp. Path), MSPA, CPSP

Wendy is a Certified Practising Speech Language Pathologist with over 35 years’ experience specialising in the communication and literacy problems of primary school students. Wendy has worked in over 30 schools providing student, group and class interventions as well as presenting a range of in-service programmes to state and independent schools.


Walter Howe, Disclaimer – Director of Psychological Assessments Australia (PAA)

Walter is a Sydney based Educational and Developmental Psychologist. He worked as a secondary teacher and school counsellor in NSW before becoming involved in test publishing in 1988. He has managed Australian standardisation studies for the WISC III, the Woodcock Johnson III; the new Woodcock Johnson IV Tests of Cognitive Abilities; Tests of Achievement and Tests of Oral Language (WJIV) and the York Assessment of Reading for Comprehension (YARC). PAA distributes a wide variety of assessment products, including the WJ IV and the YARC. He is a member of the Australian Psychological Society, the American Psychological Association and the National Association of School Psychologists (USA). He is a regular presenter at professional conferences on topics ranging from dyslexia to emotional intelligence.


Ian Luscombe

Experience and an acute sensitivity to the needs of students with emotional and behavioural issues and of the needs of the adults who work with them. Ian has been in Special Education for over 28 years and for the last 14 years was Principal of Redbank School, Westmead, NSW. Redbank is the only joint Department of Health and Department of Education facility in NSW for the treatment of children (preschool to Yr. 6) and adolescents (Yrs. 7 to 12) with emotional, psychiatric and / or behavioural disorders.  Ian co-established at the beginning of 2009 a class for emotionally disturbed pre-schoolers. This initiative, the second of its type in Australia, received media attention across Australia and overseas and is seen as an exemplar of a preventative mental health program

Teachers Certificate Course 2020 Information and App. Form (PDF)


Teachers Certificate Course 2016

Over many years I’ve completed many hours of Professional Development and I can without hesitation say that the recent SPELD NSW course I completed was by the far the best I’ve ever attended. I looked forward to each weekend and always came away with new ideas, resources, contacts and an excitement to implement change.  The speakers were all highly experienced and credentialed, always providing practical and essential training to further successful intervention. 

It was great to form friendships with other teachers from various sectors all whom shared a passion to assist the struggling student.

The assignments tasks were relevant and enabled clarification of learning needs and additionally, in depth evaluation of teaching methodologies and process.

It is my pleasure to highly recommend this course.”

Lyn Maxwell, 2014 T.C.C. Graduate
Trinity Anglican College, Albury/Wodonga.


“Certificate Course for Teachers of Children with Specific Learning Difficulties was without doubt the most practical and inspiring professional development program I have undertaken.  Experts in their various fields shared the latest research and best practice models to enhance the learning outcomes of our students. Meeting over six weekends with a group of highly motivated people was also a plus.  Everyone benefited from each other’s skills and experiences. 

I would highly recommend this course for new and ‘old’ teachers alike.”

Nadine Cooke, 2015 T.C.C. Graduate
Danebank Anglican School for Girls, Hurstville.


“Over the years I have learnt many techniques, from Professional Development and wonderful mentoring Learning Support Teachers and Classroom teachers, but now from doing this course the DIFFERENCE IS NOW I UNDERSTAND WHY AND HOW.”   

Pip Cloros, Teachers’ Aide, 2015 Graduate
Knox Grammar


“I recently completed the SPELD NSW Certificate course for teachers of students with specific learning difficulties. The course was wonderful it included hands on activities, resources, recommended readings and research, highly skilled and passionate teachers/instructors.

I added many ideas and strategies to my classroom in 2016 and noticed a dramatic improvement in all my students not just those with specific learning needs. If you are passionate about helping every student in your class I highly recommend this course..”

Deborah Peters, 2016 T.C.C. Graduate
Teacher at NSW Department of Education and Communities.


“I strongly recommend this course to all teachers at all levels of experience. Provided me with the skills to confidently make changes to my teaching methods in order to better meet the needs of my students.”

Clare Karlis, 2017 T.C.C. Graduate
Special Needs Teacher – St Therese Primary School


“SPELD NSW’s Certificate Course for teachers with specific learning difficulties is beneficial for all teachers. So many elements of the course are not covered in pre-service teacher training and are vital to ensure teachers can equip our future learners with the skills to function successfully in the complex world.”

Janine Timillero, 2018 Graduate  
High School Teacher


“Thank you SPELD NSW and all those involved for coordinating such an extraordinary course. We have all come a long way on this journey and I know that I am now a better educator because of my time in the TCC. I truly can’t recommend this course highly enough!”

Cassie Dixon, 2019 Graduate  

Teachers Certificate Course 2020 Information and App. Form (PDF)