What do you do if your son’s school doesn’t think he has dyslexia? This happened to our anonymous guest writer from Newport Parent Network, and here’s their story
My son has dyslexia. He was diagnosed at 14 years of age through a private assessment. We began to have concerns when he was in junior school. He often found it difficult to spell simple words and his handwriting was bad despite us and the school working to improve it. There were other issues which we were not aware of at the time but have become more obvious since his diagnosis.
His school was unconcerned. When we raised the issue, their response was that he needed to read more. The main barrier to getting support seemed to be that our son was intelligent. He couldn’t possibly have dyslexia because he was one of the year’s highest achievers. This seemed to be the message throughout school. He was achieving above the level that would enable his school to have a concern. He was repeatedly getting above average grades and in group discussions often described as being one of the most productive.
“… we wanted to give him the opportunity to reach his full potential.”
In secondary school this pattern continued, although as he got older his work levels started to slip. He was still getting high grades but only slightly above average. There were comments along the lines of him seeming lazy with his work. When asked to do 1-2 pages he would do 1 despite there being a feeling he could do far more. His handwriting was still an issue too and often it was almost ineligible.
This is what prompted us to get a diagnosis. We wanted to ensure that, if there was an issue, that we could try and support it before he began his GCSEs. The school seemed content to allow him to get good grades but for us, we wanted to give him the opportunity to reach his full potential.
When we had the assessment results it showed that he was above average in intelligence. He was also above average or average in other aspects of the tests but the consultant explained that the results did not balance out. His high level of intelligence should have resulted in other aspects being high as well.
“We took the results to the school. They seemed reluctant at first.”
It showed that he had issues with memory, retaining too much information, processing skills. These were all areas we had been unaware of. We just had put down to him being difficult throughout his childhood. The consultant was happy to give the diagnosis of dyslexia. This was because the results showed that despite him being intelligent he was still struggling in these other areas. This meant that without support he would not be able to reach his full potential.
We took the results to the school. They seemed reluctant at first. Partially because they thought we would want them to provide additional support and resources, which would need to be paid for through the school’s budget. I feel that they were also reluctant because they had repeatedly told us he couldn’t have dyslexia because he was in set 1 for English.
“Almost every teacher reported that the quality and quantity of his work had improved dramatically…”
But we did meet. We purchased him a laptop to complete his school work on, a recommendation of the consultant. The school were uncertain this would help but they agreed to trial it as long as he took responsibility for the laptop. He also had to print off work that needed to be handed in.
At the next parents evening, almost every teacher reported that the quality and quantity of his work had improved dramatically since he had begun using the laptop. The teachers seemed keen to make sure they were supporting him correctly and eager to help in whatever way they could.
My concern as I write this is that there may be a number of children who are struggling with their work but are being missed because they are still able to get the grades they need. The criteria for success is grades A-C in GCSEs. Schools seem content to support their pupils to achieve at this level wherever possible.
“There are a hidden number of pupils who will never reach their full potential because the system is not set up to identify them…”
Pupils who are falling short of this often receive support in an attempt to increase their grades to fall as close to this as possible. Or they are put on other courses which are more vocational in order to succeed in a different way.
However, there are a hidden number of pupils who will never reach their full potential. This is because the system is not set up to identify them or support them due to them reaching a level deemed to be good enough. My argument is that good enough is not good enough. All pupils should be encouraged to work towards their full capacity.
For some this will be A*. For other this will be a C or a D. They may need to study vocationally, so that they can develop a different way of working. As long as all pupils are encouraged to work as hard as they are able to, then each person has achieved the same degree of success.
So once again I would like to say “Good Enough, is not Good Enough!”
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