What is our mission?
Pico Educational Systems Ltd. came into being 25 years ago and is made up of a group of determined and committed individuals with a variety of background skills and experience. They combined to effect a change for the better for those adults and young people who have struggled for a number of years with learning difficulties.
The company was formed to create and enable dyslexia screening products to be brought into the public arena. Our mission has been to provide a much needed service at costs that are so reasonable that nobody is left in a situation of ‘not being able to afford to find out if they are dyslexic’.
Our focus remains to continue to find more ways in which we can improve, extend the scope of our tests and make them as easy to use and as accessible as possible.
The products we have available today are:
“Thank you for the test which I completed 2 weeks ago. It has helped me come to understand my difficulties which I have discussed at work and has made a huge difference. My confidence is now beginning to grow but I am confident it will grow more quickly now.”
What special markers have there been on our journey?
When first created in 1997, Pico’s computer-based dyslexia assessment was quite an innovative concept (ref The Studyscan Suite). This was the first computerised dyslexia test for adults to ever be produced and doubtless somewhat ahead of its time.
It arose out of solid academic and clinical expertise via a senior research fellowship at Kingston University, part of the government funded project on widening participation in Higher Education and a Phd successfully completed by our lead dyslexia consultant at Leicester University.
The early development work for the test was overseen by a group of eminent dyslexia specialists – including the chief educational psychologist of Surrey, the Director of Studies of Dyslexia Action, the author of the mainstream publication Adult Dyslexia, as well as several other consultant psychologists and statisticians (see PhD thesis for details).
Not many people had a personal computer; let alone access to mobile devices and social media. It was no wonder that the idea of online testing was treated with a degree of scepticism.
However, these early barriers did not totally derail us, because we knew that the level of need (10% of the population) would never be met via the existing system of one-to-one assessments carried out by not enough educational psychologists at costs which would automatically exclude whole swathes of the population.
This national situation necessarily and unfortunately gave rise to a lot of unhelpful ‘misinformation’ such as describing dyslexia as a ‘middle class’ condition and this incurred the indignation of individual academics who to this day are convinced that it is just used as an excuse for poor performance in certain sections of society. Those who did not have access to enough funds, to private tutors, small class sizes, educational psychologists and the rest, were the ones to suffer the greatest losses.
As we know from studies carried out in young offenders institutions many of their intake (over 40% see ref on QuickScan FAQs) have dyslexia and associated learning difficulties. Other adults have spent decades doing jobs that were inappropriate for their actual abilities because they never got access to testing, recognition and support.
Today, at least, people are not turned away from a university degree because of their dyslexia and many professions are actively seeking the talents and specific qualities that belong to adults with unique creative skills who also happen to be dyslexic.
Finally the situation was largely reversed. Working on-line became the norm and it is the pen and paper test that could be considered somewhat incomplete in its scope, when testing relevant skills for current day requirements.
In Summer 2017 a tweet from an adult dyslexic, who acts as a dyslexic representative for the public sector, asked “Is it fair to have to pay to be dyslexic? Many adults cannot afford the £500+ required to get a full assessment and therefore remain undiagnosed and ‘suffer in silence’.”
So we could see that there started to be a recognition that with an easy to access online test adults could get skills updates for study requirements, exam concessions and provide employers with a basis for individual training and in-work support. This is certainly true now in many areas of public life and work.
However, there still is a requirement for a full diagnostic assessment for things such as gaining access to student disability funding at university. One success for students at university was the new rule brought in recently that an assessment report can be used as proof of dyslexia – one that has been carried out at any time – not just within the preceding 2 year slot, as was the case previously.
Our belief is that online tests are very cost effective. If someone has not been assessed officially, or perhaps cannot afford to pay for a one-to-one assessment, there should be other options for them. If someone completes one or several reputable online tests that show clear indications of dyslexia, then it is safe to say that the outcome is assured.
We created QuickScreen as we felt passionate about offering a professional dyslexia screening tool to anyone who wished to find out if they have positive dyslexia symptoms. It’s an online test for dyslexia that is accessible from anywhere in the world and the only requirement is to have a working knowledge of spoken and written English.
“The test procedures are proving to be a valid method for the identification of adults with learning difficulties both of a dyslexic and more general nature. They enable group and individual assessments to be efficiently carried out in terms of cost and time allocations. The individual profiles obtained assist with subsequent consultations in the design of appropriate strategies to cope better with difficulties of a personal, intellectual or educational kind.”
County Educational Psychologist
Introducing the Pico Team
Michael’s background is in Banking where he held a number of Executive roles specialising in Product Development, Training and Team Development. He takes pride in the ‘Team Concept’ actively encouraging staff to expand their abilities to the full.
He had such a belief in the value of QS dyslexia products that he made a substantial investment in the Pico Company, as the Managing Director, knowing that this was undoubtedly a really good tool for all organisations concerned with the educational wellbeing of their members.
Dr. Dorota Walker
Dorota devised the QS products, having been awarded her PhD entitled ‘Dyslexia in Higher Education’ at Leicester University for the original work she did to produce these test procedures. She is our Lead Dyslexia Consultant and a Director for Pico Educational Systems Ltd.
Dorota has several decades of experience in a wide variety of posts, ranging from teaching and assessment to lecturing and running teacher training courses and presenting papers at local, national and international conferences (see more on our research page).
More recently she has participated in public sector training courses on dyslexia and wellbeing. She is always happy to offer her support to adults with dyslexia and their employers.
Rae’s background in corporate administration and marketing gives new meaning to the term “multi-skilling”!
She runs Pico’s help and enquiries line and as such is often the first port of call for both current and potential clients, providing detailed product information and program support.
Rae also manages our extensive client database and keeps track of licensing details and renewal information.
With a background in broadcast and corporate television, Steve helped to produce the original Quickscan questionnaire and developed many of the technical aspects.
He has now brought the original programme release up to date with QuickScan OnLine and added keyboard and audio support to meet accessibility requirements.
In his role of Technical Support, Steve provides continuing IT back up and has produced several bespoke modifications to resolve specific application issues for clients.
We are proud to be silver corporate members of the British Dyslexia Association and they have our continuous support, with our participation in two of the dyslexia awareness events and we hope to do more whenever we can.
There have been many organisations that have supported our vision and offered us practical support with research and feedback, or just the opportunity to do assessment work. In chronological order – Kingston University ( where is all started), Surrey University (extensive student trials), Leicester University (host for the PhD), Guildford University (statistical expertise) , University of Ulster (research trial), West Kent College ( research and support), East London Uni, Southbank Uni and Croydon college where our consultants gained clinical experience from carrying out assessments, Cardiff University (Study support staff who worked with us on the first beta version of the test and offered us a control group for the research project).
Our Extended Team
It would not have been possible to create the QuickScreen Dyslexia Test without the support of some specific businesses and organisations that have been working with us for a number of years.
We would like to thank Simon Mumford and the team at Bio-Medical Computing who took on this, at times, daunting and challenging task, to create the QuickScreen test in collaboration with Pico Education. It took nearly 3 years to complete and is an on-going exercise as we carry out research trials and continue to make regular updates and improvements. They have been a pleasure to work with and are highly professional. They told us that they would persist until we are happy with the results. We consider ourselves very fortunate to be working with them.
Pico Education would also like to thank Emma Pearce and her team at Pearce Marketing who have worked with us from the beginning of this project. They have assisted us with our website development, customer feedback, marketing planning and continue to help us with various marketing activities. They are a wonderful team!
We are really pleased with the reports that Select Statistical Services provided on their initial analysis of our QuickScreen dyslexia test results, as well as their regular statistical updates and studies which help us to adhere to rigorous and independent scrutiny of our products. (See our Research section)