Our SN area is not a substitute for expert advice. While many Mumsnetters have a specialist knowledge of special needs, if they post here they are posting as members, not experts. There are, however, lots of organisations that can help - some suggestions are listed here. If you've come across an organisation that you've found helpful, please tell us. Go to Special needs chat, Parents with disabilities, SN teens, SN legal, SN children, SN recommendations.

anyone starting up an Arrowsmith program in London

(27 Posts)
fbtoast Sun 24-Jun-12 15:25:09

Has anyone heard of the Arrowsmith programme that was highlighted in the Guardian last week? It's a Canadian programme that is supposed to help children with learning disabilities essentially to improve their brain function in the specific areas where they have deficits. If it works, it is exactly what my son needs, but unfortunately only schools in Canada and the US seem to run it.

Has anyone had any experience of it? Does it work? Are there any Arrowsmith schools in the UK? If not, would anyone be interested in getting together to try to set such a programme up over here?

(I'm new to Mumsnet by the way, sorry if I'm inadvertently breaking any etiquette rules for posting).

oakland Wed 04-Jul-12 15:11:00


evertheoptimist09 Sat 28-Jul-12 14:35:54

I am also interested in this programme. I contacted the Eaton Arrowsmith school to make further enquiries. Unfortunately, as Oakland said, only schools can implement it.
I am, however, determined that there must be a way. I would be interested to hear from any like-minded individuals and perhaps we can find a way forward.

ShuttleEye Sun 17-Feb-13 20:15:49

Did anyone get any further with this last year? I have a toddler (I know it is too early to tell yet by traditional methods, but I'm trusting my motherly instincts, not my paranoia) and I believe she may need a programme like this.

mumnteach Sat 09-Nov-13 22:14:23

I'm a specialist teacher for SpLd & have just discovered the existence of the Arrowsmith Programme, having been given the book "The Woman who changed her Brain". like other posters on here, i'm also disappointed that we can't access this fantastic system here - i can't even sign up to do the training in Canada, as i don't work in a large school.
anyone interested in investigating how we might remedy this situation?

akadewale Sat 29-Mar-14 23:44:50

Did anyone make any progress with this? Are there people on this site that will be interested in co-investing to get this into UK for their child's sake?

Would love to hear from you.

smitashah Sat 19-Apr-14 13:02:43

I too am very interested in the programme so would definitely be keen on working with similar minded people to bring the programme to uk. First step i guess would be to go along to one of Barbara's talks in september/october.

JaneK10 Fri 13-Mar-15 21:19:46

Hi All, I too read the article in The Guardian, then the book, then blagged my way into a Scottish education forum in which Barbara was speaking. I am convinced the Arrowsmith programme could help my daughter. I have tried home versions from what I have seen but would love for my daughter to go on the programme. I see from the website that they are running an Intensive 6 week summer programme www.arrowsmithschool.org/arrowsmithschool-toronto/summer-intensive.html on Symbol Relations. This is the exact area that I feel would benefit my daughter but trying to coordinate a trip to Canada for 6 weeks is difficult with the needs of the rest of the family and work. The thought has occured to me, would it be possible for enough of us to get together with similar needs to look into the possibility of funding someone to come to the UK for a 6 week intensive course?

smitashah Fri 13-Mar-15 22:48:45

ok, i would definitely be interested if we can get someone to come over. JaneK10 - how old is your daughter.

JaneK10 Sat 14-Mar-15 09:09:33

Great smitashah, Izzy is 15 and I would say Symbol Relations is her greatest weakness. I will email the school and check if this is a possibility and try to get an idea of potential costs. Where are you in the country? I am in North Yorkshire.

smitashah Sat 14-Mar-15 12:44:24

Jane - I am in London. I did not know there was a home programme. can you send me the link please

shelleyuk123 Mon 27-Apr-15 21:54:08

Hi. I'm new to the forum but wanted to weigh in on this thread. I live in Farnham Surrey. We moved from Toronto 5 years ago. My dyslexic son was one of the youngest students enrolled in Arrowsmith Toronto at the age of 6. He attended until he was 9. He now goes to a specialist school in Wiltshire.

First: the programme is excellent. Our son was at the main school in Toronto - not in a school simply delivering the programme. It was full-time brain exercises and he had some considerable breakthroughs.

However, what started to emerge for us is that he was developing a curiosity to learn different things: history, geography etc. That in itself was a breakthrough. But for us it meant it was time for him to move on from dedicating all of his time to 'fixing' his brain. His difficulties were broad and severe so while 3 years is all some kids need in the programme,he would have had a long road ahead.

I think the best delivery would be half Arrowsmith Programme/half other curriculum(many schools do that but we weren't in a position to access them at the time).

I would be interested in the 6-week programme in Symbol Relations and happy to be a liaison with the school.

smitashah Mon 27-Apr-15 22:17:03

Shelley, how do we take this forwards. any suggestions welcome although my son is much older (adult) but if it helps why not. i am sure i can find many people to do the programme but they would not be able to travel to Canada for sure.

shelleyuk123 Mon 27-Apr-15 22:45:03

My son is now 15 so getting older, and the programme does have success with adults. It's never to late really.
I'll follow up with Arrowsmith and see what the feasibility is of having a programme delivered here. I'll keep you posted.

smitashah Tue 28-Apr-15 07:20:12

shelley,perhaps we can communicate directly rather than through mumsnet. my email is smita.shah2@sky.com. as we are all so far away from each other, this is something we will have to think about - a central location if it all goes ahead.

i tried to communicate with arrowsmith about programmes but all they keep directing me to is their literature. is there a particular person i need to speak to - even if it is about going there with my son and he participates in canada.

movingtoUK2014 Sun 19-Jul-15 04:43:41


I am currently in Toronto and my son is completing the 6 week summer intensive. We are two weeks into the course and my middle son (10) who has dyslexia just read a chapter from an age appropriate book and he whizzed through it like he has never been able to do before. I am still in shock. He is able to read but not at this level and never so easily. I am so excited to see how he improves in the next 4 weeks but I am devastated that I cannot give him more than this taster 6 weeks especially as I am already seeing results. And this is just one area of Arrowsmiths work called "symbol relations". There are another 14 or so areas which they also address in the full time course.
Barbara has told me that she is coming to London in October and I have told her I will come to her talk. I am just trying to work out a way to get this amazing program into the UK so that my son can benefit like kids do in Canada, the States etc. This is the crux of the problem it is up to the parents to somehow convince the school to take on the program which is an incredible ask. I know there have been successes in Australia, Malaysia and the US and of course Canada but so far not one in the UK. I will liaise with my sons school when I return and share my experience with them. There is not doubt in my mind that this course is revolutionary. But obviously the road is long........and I have no clout whatsoever....we have just moved to the UK from Australia as the UK system is so much more accomodating for a dyslexic student.
Anyway if anyone wants to talk about it or has ideas or wants to start a Bring an Arrowsmith School to the UK group please contact me.

smitashah Sun 19-Jul-15 07:06:33

hi, i definitely would be interested in helping to bring the programme to uk although havent had first hand experience likeyourself movingtouk2014. a group to start this would be good. please email me on smita.shah2@sky.com

movingtoUK2014 Sun 19-Jul-15 12:20:18

Hi smitashah

The key issue is that Barbara will not open a designated Arrowsmith school to teach this program she will only lease the Arrowsmith program to a fully established school. Once this is done a selected group of teachers working for that school will visit Canada and complete a course to become specialist Arrowsmith teachers. In parent discussions with the school I have asked if they could open a flag ship Arrowsmith school in the UK say in London, like the one in Toronto but Barbara is adamant that she does not want to do it that way. All her experience with the program have lead her to the strict stance of only letting schools that have been opened for longer than 5 years and have a student body of more than 100 students being considered. It is so frustrating because its so hard to prove to the schools the validity of the program when hardly anyone knows about it or has had first hand experience of the course. If only they would open one up temporarily say for 5-10 years and then once the system has proven itself and there are a number of school set up then the flag ship could be closed. The dissemination of the course will be sped up by this route and so many children will get to benefit from it. I am going to try and talk about this again but I dont think I am going to have much impact as all the parents of children doing the course feel exactly the way I do. Having children with learning difficulties is difficult enough without having to advocate school to implement a new completely unorthodox program!! Neuroplasticity is such a radical concept to mainstream education boards. The majority of the schools that have taken up the program are faith based private schools (catholic, christian and jewish) or specialist private schools. The government/free/state school system in the countries that have been successful in implementing a program are very resistant to the program.

I will post more about the school as more information becomes available and I will also post about my sons development over the next 6 weeks.

smitashah Sun 19-Jul-15 18:59:43

please private message me as i may have some ideas and links to schools that may be interested in implementing.

achy123 Wed 22-Jul-15 10:44:59

Very interested in this too.

Bluefoot Wed 22-Jul-15 12:08:50

Also watching with interest.

movingtoUK2014 Sat 01-Aug-15 00:23:20

Hi all

We are up to end of week 4 and things are going along well. I am not seeing as much change as I hoped but I feel I am seeing some progress and the boys are happy. I actually have two boys in the program an 11 year old dyslexic and a 7 year old son with social difficulties. At the time of posting I had not had any real progress with my youngest son and he was an add on to the course just to keep his school happy as I pulled him out two and half weeks before term ended and I figured he is here so will give it a go.

As I mentioned earlier have seen progress with 11 yo son. Improved reading and comprehension and also increased verbal vocabulary. He is still doing his daily kumon and he says that it feels easier to do. Basically though things have plateaued a little bit but I feel that he is comprehending things better. But this could be me looking for changes. I think the key time will be when he is back at school and how he copes in the classroom.

The 7 yo has had some progress now as well. He is a socially awkward child who has trouble with interpersonal skills. There has been talk maybe Aspergers but nothing has been concrete. With him I have found that he is talking to me more about emotional issues and he is showing compassion and empathy to a level I have not seen in him before. But of course this again could be me looking for evidence. He is the youngest in the class which has made engagement a bit difficult. The best age seems to be around 10 and up. Again it will be interesting what the teachers say once he is back in school. One variable though is that we have just recently moved to UK so my boys have only been in their school for one and 1/2 terms.

Various parents are pretty much like me wondering if we are imagining progress etc. However two have enrolled for the full time course as a result of the course so I assume they are happy with the results. Google the 6 week summer intensive and you will see that it only involves one aspect (symbol relations) of the 19 categories that Arrowsmith deals with. So this course is just a taster of what is possible and apparently when you are studying all aspects that are required according to the childs personal profile the progress is amazing.

As we have just relocated to UK it is impossible for us to do so again, so this is it for my boys. But I will be talking to schools in our area to see if any of them are interested in taking on Arrowsmith. But I know it is a long road that will take time and if a school does take it up it probably wont be in my boys school life.

Will keep posting regarding the progress of my boys and what their schools have to say. Also if any of the other parents who are on the course contact me with their successes or lack thereof I will share that as well.

movingtoUK2014 Mon 03-Aug-15 23:14:29

Hi All

I just thought I would give you a run down of the course as I have focused more on my children in my posts.

The Summer Intensive Program targets the Symbol Relations cognitive function that processes and understands ideas. This is a very important cognitive function that is responsible for processing concepts, understanding and quickly grasping what we read and hear, gaining insight, logical reasoning, seeing connections between ideas, cause and effect processing, and mathematical reasoning. This cognitive function plays out in academic learning as well as in understanding our world. Individuals at all levels of functioning in this area can benefit from this program. Our experience has been that through targeting this cognitive function, we see positive changes in the individual’s ability to understand the world around them.

Please go to the Arrowsmith School Toronto website and it will give you a comprehensive introduction to symbol relations and the other 18 cognitive functions.

The exercise that the children do to target and expand this cognitive function is reading a clock. They start with one hand and generally move on to up to 10 hands. Most children I have been told will get to 4 hands. The adults who are taking the class and there are 12 or so people may get further than this.

The intensive runs along the lines that the children do 4 x 45 minutes sessions per day 5 days a week. One day is equivalent to a weeks worth of exercises. In total the children are then completing almost one year of cognitive work in that area when holidays are included. The adults complete 6 sessions a day and therefore complete the equivalent of years work.

The intensive nature of the course is great as it enabled me to bring my sons over during the holidays but it is also very demanding and requires a high level of engagement in something that is very repetitive and at times monotonous. The children must achieve high accuracy and high speed at their given level before they are allowed up a level. My 10 year son has mostly maintained engagement as he knows why he is here, the trip was planned for him and he was asked if he would like to go and do it. Subsequently he wants to get the most out of it. My 7 year old son does not really get it and thinks he is here because he did badly in clocks at school. His engagement therefore is not as high as his brothers and this is also exacerbated by his different approach to learning. However his deficit in this area was definitely not as pronounced as his brothers so it will be interesting to see how they score when it is over. The course is supposed to deliver an "average" score if there has been full engagement. For privacy reasons I will not be revealing my children's previous or post scores. The school does not promise that all children will benefit from the Arrowsmith Program but they do endeavour to accept children whose profile fits the type of person who will be most likely to benefit and improve from attending the course.

The course is being held at the Toronto Arrowsmith School as well as in Vancouver at the Eaton-Arrowsmith School. The Toronto course is $3000.00 per student and runs for 6 consecutive weeks from 9-3 (except for one public holiday) whilst the Vancouver one is $4800 per student and runs for 3 weeks, then has a week break then commences for another 3 weeks and the classes are from 9-3.30

movingtoUK2014 Fri 14-Aug-15 02:49:19

Hi again

The Arrowsmith School’s inaugural Summer Intensive Program officially finishes tomorrow. Jason the principal has said "These past six weeks have been quite remarkable and rewarding and we have your anecdotal observations and the students’ test results to prove it. In fact, upon reviewing the testing data, Barbara Arrowsmith Young wrote to me and said, “We can officially declare the Summer Intensive Program a success.”

According to almost all the parents and children who have completed the course we have indeed seen significant changes in our children. Only one parent has felt that she has not seen a great deal of change. I have seen quite profound changes in my 11 yo dyslexic boy. He is more engaged in the world around him, the conversations that are being had, the movies he has seen, the museums he has visited. His conversations are more sophisticated, far less stilted and less riddled with grammatical errors. He is listening more every day and I can hear him self correcting a great deal more than usual. While there has been so many positive change it has resulted in my normally very sunny, easy going, and dreamy child becoming at times a very grumpy, demanding and bossy person. On one occasion this week he had a complete melt down for over an hour and he comprehensively articulated every injustice that he had experienced since grad prep (reception)!! He then analysed these feeling in quite a philosophical manner once he had calmed down. I have been advised that this is a common occurence as he is making connections and comprehending his reality in a way that he was previously unable to do.

I dont know if his reading has improved any further as he does not want to read and as he is so exhausted from the course I have not pushed things. He is though reading his comics far more comprehensively than before. He has been doing his kumon (3 pages a day) and his accuracy and speed has definitely improved.

My 7 year old has not advanced as much conversationally as his brother, but he is definitely talking more and is happier, at times calmer. He is showing a renewed interest in all things but on a more simple level than his brother. He talks about his feeling sometimes and can articulate what is going on in his head much better than ever before. He is smiling more and participating in group activities to level that he has never done before. He knows his left and right automatically and he can definitely tell the time!! Its funny in some ways my happy child has become more bossy and grumpy and my grumpy child is having more "moments" of happiness.

Of course it has been a roller coaster for me as discovering that things are really changing for my 11 year old son and that this course really does make a difference places me in such a difficult position because there are NO Arrowsmith schools in England!! Hopefully lots of parents and teachers will be able to attend when Barbara Arrowsmith makes presentations in London in October in order to gather some momentum so that hopefully one day children in the UK will be able to access this amazing program.

The dates of these two events are as follows:

Monday October 5th, 2015
A Personal Journey Into the World of the Brain: Shaping The Mind – Function and Plasticity
Location: University College London, Royal Free Hospital
Time: 3:00-5:00pm
Registration for this event is not yet open

Saturday October 10th, 2015
TES Special Education Needs London
A Personal Journey Into The World Of The Brain
Location: Business Design Center London, 52 Upper Street
Time: 11:00am-12:00pm
Registrations are available on line for this event

Will probably update again in another month when and if I have more information to share.

silbow3 Sat 05-Sep-15 10:00:31

Thank you MovingtoUK2014 for sharing your experience and those important dates. I have a 6 year old in a special needs school so i shall be mentioning this program and dates to the school.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now