In current education systems, a person’s unique learning style can easily be overlooked or go unrecognised during his or her educational experience. Footnotes brings an alternative way of learning and communicating to the estimated two thirds of the population who prefer to think in visual ways. This can be as part of a learning strategy in a mainstream setting, or even on it’s own. Footnotes meets a need that is so often not met, and as a result it is often found to be effective in the most surprising of contexts. It has a range of applications: from helping your child at home, to managing difficult assignments, to assisting struggling students in a classroom or seminar setting, to whole staff training.


The Footnotes strategies are ideal for learners of all ages who would benefit from an alternative approach to traditional classroom ‘linear-lexical’ teaching methods. Learners from pre-school to university often see dramatic breakthroughs in their communication and learning skills, as they develop their visual strategies as an aid to understanding and internalising verbal and written cues, as well as presenting in all forms of communication. This breakthrough is often dramatically fast, releasing people to manage their own thinking and behaviour. The resulting confidence allows natural abilities to be properly discovered, and the student to participate fully in his or her learning environment.

Footnotes is delivered both in unstructured and timetabled learning situations. It can be effectively incorporated alongside prescribed curriculum structures without any extra workload to the host teacher/tutor. The use of Footnotes strategies within a whole class situation is a proven vehicle for releasing and harnessing an individual’s awareness of their unique balance of visual, audio and kinaesthetic characteristics. It’s often during this complimentary use that many individuals — as well as those supporting them — first find out what their specific balance might be. Learners often show abilities and comprehension previously hidden or locked in by an inability to cope in the usual learning environment. Footnotes has been shown to be a powerful tool for unlocking all kinds of barriers to learning within the ‘normal’ group setting of the classroom. The introduction of peer-mentored programmes has proven to greatly accelerate the absorption of Footnotes into whole institutions, with a high percentage of the community embracing the programme in varied ways as raised aspirations and new-found confidence set a new pace.


New Footnotes applications for the learning environment are being developed on a regular basis. These are some of our most popular ones:

Reading and writing
There’s more than one way to read a book, and many ways of working towards and with the written word.

Study skills and lectures
Ensure an appropriate focus at any given time during your study; get the balance between capturing what you’re hearing and thinking, whilst keeping hold of the bigger picture. There are grids for note taking, listening to lectures, managing the stages of conceptual planning, critical analysis; all the work is visibly contained in a way which allows the big picture to be kept in view.

Innovation and Design
Collate and prioritise plans without losing sight of the seed of your idea. Benefit from seeing the whole scope of a dream project whilst holding on to the marvellous and mundane components.

Revision and decoding questions
Map your learning journey, use strategies for memory storage and recall, and ensure success by knowing that you understand the questions before you answer.

Essays and presentations
Keep a birds eye view of the whole topic throughout the preparation process, whilst ensuring your ability to edit and re-sequence right up to the last minute.

For visual thinkers, writing long essays and dissertations can be difficult. We believe the answer is to think and plan in holistic pictorial terms and then translate into linear terms. The Footnotes programme allows pictures to say the thoughts and ideas, and also plan the sequence of organising and translating into spoken or written final presentation. Using the grid, 8,000 and 20,000 word assignments are frequently planned out entirely in pictures. This process might seem to require more time than a conventionally planned essay, but time and time again we have been told that in fact the whole project process works out to be much shorter, and often students remark on the very positive feedback from their tutors. 

Organisation and time management
Find the joy of multitasking; manage your time rather than it managing you, and then meet your deadline without undue stress.

Pastoral care
There is a large overlap between the education and pastoral care support that Footnotes offers. Please visit our ‘Counsellors and Pastoral Carers’ section for more information about using Footnotes in emotional support and post-trauma recovery.

Behaviour management
Footnotes offers helpful strategies where education and behaviour management support meet. Please visit our ‘Behaviour Management’ section for more information about using Footnotes as a tool to help facilitate positive behavioural change and management. These are a selection of some of the grid modules available ..

To find out about the modules that cover these topics, and many others, visit our grids page.


Training is available from all perspectives of learning, from students, to higher education course leaders, teachers, parents, support workers and policy makers. It can take place in an auditorium or in your living room, via conferences, lectures, workshops, family sessions, or one-to-one online tutorials. You can find out more about what it means to be a visual multilayered thinker, learn in depth about specific Footnotes strategies that take your fancy, or even qualify as a facilitator of Footnotes, enabling you to work as an instructor in a variety of settings. These strategies are highly relevant to education but can also be applied in many other fields as well.

To find out more about the various training options we offer, ranging from one-off sessions to a longer programme of support, visit this page.


If you would like to refer anyone for individual Footnotes support or intervention, visit this page.


Oliver West, creator and founder of Footnotes, offers visual multilayered thinking (VMT) awareness support, Footnotes consultation and bespoke training with you or your organisation. This could be in areas such as policy making, curriculum creation and management support, assessment strategies, and learning environment development.

For more information visit this page or get in touch to book a consultation.

Public Speaking & Motivational Awareness

You can also invite Oliver to speak at any event that you are organising. From conferences, to plenary and breakout presentations and even school assemblies.

For more information visit this page or get in touch to book Oliver.


“Yesterday was an eye-opener into the lives of children who are struggling. We don’t give them tools to better themselves. They must follow our guidelines – but they need special guidelines that we often don’t give them. I’m just sorry that this has come so late for some!”

“I am a primary school teacher and have continually searched for ways to help those children who struggle with basic reading and writing skills, particularly when it is clear to me that so many have so much more potential than they are able to realize in a standard classroom setting.”

“Your book was like a ray of light, focusing as it does as on our linear approach to teaching being an obstacle rather than an aid to many children’s learning.”

“Just to let you know that one of my pupils has taken to your footnotes like a duck to water!! He was worried as he’d heard that his history group were going to have to write up what they knew about ‘1066 and all that’. In his case he knew a tremendous amount, down to who had bows and arrows and who had swords and who had the advantage of being higher up and so on. So all this information poured out of him, verbally of course, then I folded the paper and he just drew it all, filling every square and laughing as he did it. He is now writing it up, one or two squares at a time. So, a very big thank you for the excellent idea and the inspiring Saturday morning you spent with us in Exeter, it’s making such a difference already.”

“Quite an eye-opener! I really enjoyed the workshop. Will definitely implement it in my school.”

“I think this method will help us a lot. The creative aspects that are attached to it seriously gives hope to complement the writing and teaching ability of the learners.”

“I have found myself wishing when watching my pupils using the Spelling Grid, that the Footnotes ideas and methods had been available to me when I had been at University. Being dyslexic myself and finding writing extremely difficult, it would have been great to be able to use something that helped me to better organise my thoughts… The children I work with now appear both excited and happier to see their accomplishments by using the Spelling Grid. They tell me that they enjoy the process.

“Shed some tears of empathy and connection, when reading your book.  You have really inspired me to believe that by acknowledging and tapping into my different learning style, I can achieve at University level, although some of my prof’s are doubtful…….which just makes me even more determined.”

“Thanks 4 visiting! Since I learned of the grid, I’ve done more on my PhD in a week than in 3 years previously!”

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