Dyslexia and private education

(20 Posts)
love2mum Wed 09-Apr-14 07:57:55

Hi, we have 3 children and are considering private education at secondary level. Funds are tight but we can probably do it if I go back to work full-time once the youngest starts school.

Our eldest has yet to be assessed but is showing all signs of being dyslexic or slightly developmentally delayed. He finds reading words that can be spelt easy, but words such as laugh he just can't read at all correctly. His writing is awful and he sometimes forgets which hand he writes with. Although he has no problem directing you home with right and left. There's dyslexia in the family.

My dilemma is, would we be better keeping the money and helping him in other ways. For example, deposit for buying his first home or setting up in his own business, whatever that may be. Or, would it be better to give him smaller class sizes and more individual attention give him a better start? Another dilemma is, finances may not stretch to educating all 3 privately. If we had to choose to educate just 2 of them privately, should we choose the younger two that could really benefit and enjoy private school and amount to something great, or should we choose the one that needs pushed the most? My fear is that if we don't privately educate the youngest for example, he may not achieve his ambitions.

Another option is that we move house. The area is lovely but everyone wants to live here so the primary school is overcrowded and there's no secondary school here. I've not heard good reports about the secondary school which is in another village a few miles away.

It would be interesting to hear from someone dyslexic or with a dyslexic child who experienced both educational systems. Thanks

Pagwatch Wed 09-Apr-14 08:00:02

It's going to depend entirely on the specific school.
Some are brilliant, some are shite.

Slipshodsibyl Wed 09-Apr-14 08:20:56

Yes, depends in the school but in addition, don't assume that difficulties at a young age will mean that your dyslexic child will not have a successful educational experience as he develops and/or learns coping strategies. The right teaching is every bit as, or more important.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Wed 09-Apr-14 08:22:39

The "as yet to be assessed" dyslexia is irrelevant in the decision whether to pay for secondary education or not. Most half way decent state and independent schools cope perfectly well with dyslexic children.

The problem is the number of wrong or inaccurate assumptions on which you are striving to base your decision.

Firstly there is no equation between paying for school and paying to ease later stages of life. The question is "do I want my child to go to this particular school because it would be the best school for him?"

Secondly, Why on earth would someone with (possible) dyslexia not be able to benefit and enjoy private school (or indeed any school? What if he turned out to be a great actor or musician or rower? Or simply enjoyed the company of like minded children at any particular school?

Thirdly, there is absolutely no guarantee of amounting to something great just because one has been to a private school. Your oldest child has as much chance of that as any other human being.

Fourthly, it might be better to investigate the local secondary before deciding how bad it is.

I think you need to ask yourself more stringent questions about what you want from education before going any further.

(I'm sorry for the lecture but....)

Offtotheraces Wed 09-Apr-14 09:46:49

My DD has dyslexia , quite slight but gets extra times in exams . Sending her privately has been a massive boost as I think she may have languished in a state school , at least those in our area. She is forecast to get A's in her GCSE's and is in the top English set , something that seemed un achievable when she struggled to read and was a late developer . Despite her having average reading for her age verbally she is exceptional - my point is just because you have dyslexia doesn't mean you can't achieve !!!

love2mum Wed 09-Apr-14 09:53:03

You all make very good points and that's something I'm going to have to think long and hard about.

Zerosomegamethingy the answer to the first point you make is, I don't know which would be the best school for him, but I do know that he'd drown in the secondary school that we are in the catchment for. The primary school have said as much. I have asked if he can repeat primary 7 but the answer was no.

Your second point, I think your right, we have a budding actor in the process but he hates school, whereas the other two can't wait. My four year old wants his homework photocopied so he can do it too. I just wonder if it's this school or any school. My thoughts stem from my schooling, my siblings and I were all privately educated but I really struggled to keep up with my peers and only realised I wasn't stupid when my parents eventually pulled me out and put me in a main stream school where the pace of learning was a bit slower and I was able to cope.

I think my parents wasted money sending me to private school, but when I look at my siblings achievements I can't help but feel they wouldn't have got where they are without it. One of them has a job with huge responsibility and the other has their own business. But I agree, my dilemma is more to the point, how do you decide who will benefit more, or if you can't give to all three, do you give to none?

love2mum Wed 09-Apr-14 09:59:38

Offtotheraces that's quite something in results and gives me hope. Thank you for posting. When the school raised their concerns with me, I said we'd get him extra help, tutoring or private school. They laughed and said children like him leave at 16, they don't hang around for exams. I suppose they said that when they thought it was ADD or Autism but he was tested for both and found to have neither.

happygardening Wed 09-Apr-14 10:07:48

My eldest DS has "moderate dyslexia" although he can read very well, his processing puts him in the bottom 2% of the population, his working memory is significantly below average but his IQ in the top 5%. He has been repeatedly failed in the both independent at state sectors more so I would say in the former but there's not much in it. My head hurts from banging it endlessly against a wall stuffed with ignorant couldn't care less teachers at so called "outstanding" schools. Like many dyslexics (who don't present with reading difficulties) he is completely misunderstood which has at times affected his mental health and he significantly under performs across the board.
As money is tight frankly I wouldn't waste it on independent ed. unless you're talking about a mainstream independent school which is crested approved in the teaching of dyslexics, and these will usually charge you for extra help on top of the fees often £35+ per session! Or a specialist dyslexic school which are unbelievably expensive and your DS would have to have severe dyslexia to really need and be happy at one, in which case hopefully he would be statemented and thus maybe receive proper support in the state sector. If you can avoid working full time yourself then it helps because you will have time and energy (you're going to need it) to monitor how your DS is getting on, get on the case of his current teachers morning noon and night and fight on his behalf and take him to tutors etc. my DS has had a tutor for math since yr 2.
The good news is that dyslexics often compensate for deficiencies in one area and are often creative articulate and insightful individuals, who if they've not been completely turned off education by 16, do better once they get into the 6 th form one often learnto cope with and adapt to their dyslexia, two are juggling less subjects and three the have actually chosen the subjects that interest them and this is when their often prodigious memories come into their own.

meditrina Wed 09-Apr-14 10:16:27

How old is he? You mention P7, but as some way in the future.

How is he being taught to read? Does his current school have an effective strategy for a phonics approach, and have you spoken to his teachers about the correspondences he does not 'get'?

You need to look carefully at what private schools are within reach and establish their reputation for dealing with dyslexia. But you do not have an assessment yet, so this is the time for finding out options rather than making decisions. Staying out, perhaps with OT and reading tutor could be much cheaper than private school fees, and once properly supported confidence levels can rocket so opinion on how he would fit at secondary may also change considerably.

AmberTheCat Wed 09-Apr-14 12:17:58

Did his current school really say 'children like him leave at 16, they don't hang around for exams'? Goodness.

I'd second the view that you need to have a good look round the available options before even thinking of making a decision. Some private schools are great for dyslexic children, others aren't. Most state schools should have good provision, but obviously there will be some variation there too.

And if his current school can really come out with statements like the one above, I'd be cautious about accepting their opinion that your local catchment secondary isn't the right place for him. You need to have a look at it yourself and see what you think.

love2mum Wed 09-Apr-14 18:40:41

He's 7, a December birthday so p3. He was slightly speech delayed at nursery, but also shy so made his speech look like a far bigger problem than it was. We took him to a private speech therapist who had him speaking to his age level in a few weeks. She thought though as a December birthday she would ask if he could be deferred, which we were delighted about. She completed all the forms but the school said no. She also asked if she could sit in at nursery to see how he performed in that situation and the school said no.

He's been at a tutor since the start of P2 for reading and writing. His reading has really come on leaps and bounds but he's still behind his peers. He just can't seem to remember when to use a capital letter, mixes up j & i, writes letters back to front, writes 9 instead of 6. Also his writing is far bigger than his peers and forgets to leave a space between words.

At the moment, reading everyone's opinions, I think our best option is to see if any secondary state schools have a good reputation for helping with dyslexia and then move into the catchment area.

averyyoungkitten Wed 09-Apr-14 18:59:03

There is something called CResTED ( not sure of the spelling). Its an organisation which has a list of schools who specialise in Dyslexia. I know this because I used to work in one.

Agree with you nee to find the right school, wherever that is.

I was failed by the state system, and labelled stupid at primary. My parents found the money to send me private. I was diagnosed as mildly dyslexic, and got support at school (basically a tutor group of 2/3 dyslexic kids, who got additional support and coping strategies) I got a scholarship to sixth form, and now have a BSc and an MSc.

No-one sees anything I hand write. All typing goes through a spell check (even if that means cutting and pasting out of an application that won't spell check looking at you work e-mail into word, correcting, and pasting back again). Most people don't realise.

love2mum Thu 10-Apr-14 08:16:54

Thanks everyone for your advice. Think it's going to take some thorough research and saving! Going to look up CRESTED now.

HappyAsEyeAm Wed 16-Apr-14 10:35:36

OP, On the CrRestEd website, you can search by county to see which schools are local to you. Then, whether they teach boys and/or girls, and how many pupils they have. And then clock on teh link to the individual schools' websites for more details.

I have looked on there before as my DS is only 6, but showing signs of dyslexia. It is too early to tell, of course, as he may grow out of what could be a developmental delay. But I know that is he does have severe dyslexia, or even moderate dyslexia which is presenting him with too many problems, there is a specialist dyslexia school within about half an hour's drive from my home. It is comforting to have this in the back of my mind.

FatFrumpyFilly Wed 16-Apr-14 10:49:23

Agree with HappyGardening, good and bad in both sectors and my child was failed in both.

Firstly check that your child is dyslexic. Pay for an independent report if necessary. If he's dyslexic he will be entitled for support whichever sector of education you choose, however you will get this support for free in the state school and may have to pay a small fortune in extra fees in the independent school. When you then look at schools ask them how manly pupils they have on the SEN register. If the school is cagey with their answer then don't choose it. Also do not presume private is better. I've come across excellent state and private teachers and one or two horrendous ones who refused to acknowledge my child's dyslexia. Like HappyGardening this affected their self esteem and has caused them terrible mental health issues over the years. I also have a child who received outstanding help from the schools they attended. Because of my eldest's poor experiences I purposely made sure my youngest child's schools embraced SEN and didn't just say they did.

MariaJenny Wed 16-Apr-14 17:17:57

My oldest has mild dyslexia. I think it depends how bad your child's is.
She was at a school in Herts (Haberdashers) from 4. Very bright, got in a year early, but stayed in the age 6 class for another year so ended up in the right year group. Learned to read at 6 (her younger sister was reading at 3). The school were great. The then head of lower school even gave her extra spelling help and int he seniors she did pretty well as by then handwriting etc is irrelevant and the quality of your ideas and work matters a lot (she's now a City lawyer). I definitely felt paying fees was worth it (her father and I both worked full time always).

My daughter spell checks everything, thinks in a better and different way from many others and has worked around her mild dyslexia. She did not need much extra help but had a bit of extra time in some exams which was deserved and needed.

I also know very dyslexic people who did well in private schools with very good provision. One I know went to a boarding school which was for dyslexics and he ended up at Cambridge.

LittleBird66 Mon 21-Apr-14 18:50:56

Last year I came Across the Oliver West Footnotes Programme at a Youth Work conference. It immediately caught my attention on several level-He is chronically dyslexic and was badly failed by the UK Education system, but as a result of his struggles, has produced Footnotes, which is a set visual learning strategies. I have a dyslexic son, and work with Teenagers too, and have been trialling it with both ! I would recommend you check out his website www.OliverWestFootnotes.com, and also his book-In Search of Words is an enlightening read-it's been exciting to find something new which is actually very simple, and works. He also offers online sSkype tutorials-much cheaper than school fees too!

OwlMother Mon 21-Apr-14 19:19:48

Are you in Scotland op? I only ask because of the ages and talk of December deferral. If this is the case the school are not allowed to refuse deferral, what they can refuse is funding for the extra year of nursery.
Again, apologies if I'm wrong, but if you are in Scotland, there are several private schools that deal with dyslexia brilliantly, I'm sure this is the case in the rest of the uk. The school will probably see this as a great USP so it's worth asking about it.

Nennypops Mon 21-Apr-14 21:23:58

I think he needs an assessment, because some of what you say about DS sounds a bit like dyspraxia as well as dyslexia.

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