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Dyslexia, private schools, sharp elbows... Is this true?

(105 Posts)
ZeroSomeGameThingy Fri 01-Aug-14 08:35:45

Radio 4's Today programme has been talking about whether private school pupils with dyslexia are more likely to get extra time in exams.

This is entirely counter to everything I've read here - where its generally argued that only state schools do this properly.

soddinghormones Fri 01-Aug-14 09:33:55

Ds1 goes to a private school and has a statement (not for dyslexia but has v slow handwriting and processing difficulties but v high IQ)

He's always had 25% extra time plus use of laptop in exams, both internal and public - his school have been fantastically supportive

Don't think it's got anything to do with sharp elbows though - the senco applied for extra time in the same way as the senco for ds2 who's at a state school and has dyspraxia. We had to get a supporting letter from ds1's consultant but there was no quibbling about it at all

Clavinova Fri 01-Aug-14 09:35:11

If you go on to read the news report it says, " There have been concerns that private schools may be better at identifying children who might benefit" - er, isn't this just pointing out the failings of state education? I know a number of dc who have been pulled out of state education (half way through primary) simply because they were failing - the private schools identified their dyslexia and offered support.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Fri 01-Aug-14 09:41:38

Yes Clavinova - but I worry that all the repeated MN advice, that state schools cope better with children with dyslexia, may not be accurate. Or the situation may be more complex than has been apparent.

I was also surprised to learn that parents do not have to agitate for or pay for expensive assessments before being able to access the extra exam time.

LIZS Fri 01-Aug-14 09:45:33

I heard this, and sighed heavily . The hoops you have to jump through to qualify are very strict, whatever school they attend. The whole tone suggested it was giving independent school pupils an unfair advantage and they were somehow playing the system. There could be an argument that because private school pupils generally sit more formal exams earlier, ie. entrance tests at 11 the need could be identified sooner but even then any examinations adjustments can only be applied for on the basis of evidence - assessments, Ed Psych report, demonstrable need etc - within the last 3 years. Any school and any pupil can review the JCQ criteria and see whether it might apply. ds lost his qualification for extra time because it was felt the evidence simply wasn't robust enough.

Hakluyt Fri 01-Aug-14 09:48:01

"This is entirely counter to everything I've read here - where its generally argued that only state schools do this properly."

I don't think it is. I think it is argued that some private schools do it badly. So do some state schools, obviously, but at least with the state system you have an infrastructure in place. And some recourse if it all goes horribly wrong. And the right to demand- even if you don't get. With privwt schools all the power is in the hands of the school.

neolara Fri 01-Aug-14 09:57:02

Yes. Of course it's true.

I worked briefly as a private educational psychologist. A parent from one local private school got in touch with me. She wanted me to assess her child for specific learning difficulties because he / she had only got 10 As for GCSE instead of 10 A*s. She had been told by the private school that if she got a dyslexia assessment her child would be given a free computer at university. This is a very successful private school with experienced staff. I don't believe they would have told the parent this unless it was, in their experience, largely true. I declined the work. After working in the state section and seeing how excruciatingly difficult it is for children with very, very significant needs to get any kind financial support, I felt it was just wrong and I didn't want to have anything to do with it.

ElephantsNeverForgive Fri 01-Aug-14 10:01:34

I agree, I don't think either private or state schools overall are any better or worse at ensuring pupils get extra time, it's individual schools that are more or less good.

The difference is the MN demographic (especially on education threads) is such that we are far more likely to hear about the bad private ones.

I'm experience state schools are great about extra time once your in the system, it's getting your DCs difficulties recognised to start with that are the problem.

RabbitOfNegativeEuphoria Fri 01-Aug-14 12:29:39

I believe it is true. I have seen posts from MNetters with DCs in private schools without even diagnoses who have had significant dispensations in public exams. My DC - who has a diagnoses and who has significant issues - got far less accommodation in her GCSEs. Money talks.

LIZS Fri 01-Aug-14 12:38:31

ds is at an independent school btw. I wonder if these stats they are talking about , which apparently won't be available for another year hmm, will actually only reflect extra time or include all the other access arrangements like laptops, scribes etc. dc's year group only had a handful of pupils with any access arrangements for GCSE varying from sight issues to dyslexia.

One of the arguments I heard discussed was that, almost by definition, parents of those at independent schools are proportionately more engaged with their dc's education and upfront at discussing and pursuing their dc's needs, although I think that is equally true of those using forums such as MN.

MumTryingHerBest Fri 01-Aug-14 15:38:54

One point I would question is whether it is the status of the school i.e. state vs private or it is more to do with class sizes. I would imagine that with a class of 15 to teach, the teacher would spend more one-on-one time with each child thus presenting far more opportunity for them to establish a patter etc. that would indicate an underlying problem.

neolara A parent from one local private school got in touch with me. She wanted me to assess her child for specific learning difficulties because he / she had only got 10 As for GCSE instead of 10 A*s. She had been told by the private school that if she got a dyslexia assessment her child would be given a free computer at university. Interesting that the school did not suggest the assessment prior to them doing their GCSE's. Perhaps the suggestion came in way of an explanation as to why the DC did not get the much promised A*s?

LIZS Fri 01-Aug-14 15:49:29

Agree , an A may not have been a reflection of that child's true potential. Coursework, CA's and other practical options went some way towards levelling the field for some SEN candidates for whom lengthy written papers would be a problem.

Independent school pupils are often not eligible for LA funded schemes for equipment such as laptops, support and have to organise private Ed Psychs . Not forgetting that not all parents using the independent sector run around in new Mercs , having several foreign holidays a year.

Hakluyt Fri 01-Aug-14 15:54:32

"One of the arguments I heard discussed was that, almost by definition, parents of those at independent schools are proportionately more engaged with their dc's education and upfront at discussing and pursuing their dc's needs,"

Proportionally more engaged than whom?

LIZS Fri 01-Aug-14 16:03:00

than those with children at state secondaries, I guess implying that not all parents invest the same amount of time and energy into supporting their children's education or making a choice of secondary school (perhaps defaulting to most local, where they/friends went etc). A snobbish sweeping statement of course, but then it was R4.

mrz Fri 01-Aug-14 16:22:44

Yes I know it's the DM but it was reported in other newspapers (I just can't find them) www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2595648/Yes-dyslexia-wrecks-lives-But-experts-say-money-spinner-quack-therapists-schools-parents-children-falling-prey-dyslexia-deception.html

Missunreasonable Fri 01-Aug-14 16:31:53

There are some private schools who specialise in dyslexia, given that these schools have a couple of hundred pupils who all have dyslexia or some other processing or learning difficulty which would allow for additional exam time and private schools as a whole only make up 7% of school children it isn't difficult to work out why the statistics say what they do.

For example: my town has a dyslexia specialist private school which has around 300 pupils. If every one of those pupils gets additional time in exams (which they are entitled to have) then the towns figures will show that a disproportionate number of private school children are receiving allowances for dyslexia in exams.
It's just statistics and they don't tell the full story,

ZeroSomeGameThingy Fri 01-Aug-14 16:37:39

Ahh...

eatyourveg Fri 01-Aug-14 22:17:45

dc's independent test the whole year group when they start Y10

My state fe college screens the entire cohort when they start and follows up all those who may need further testing

Don't understand why they say a state school would be less likely to test - our college has thousands of students and we do it very successfully. The AEN department is very on the ball.

IDK Fri 01-Aug-14 22:35:31

Our state school failed DS. He got a place there by an academic entrance exam but underperformed thereafter. None of the teachers spotted his problem; they thought that he was a PITA, not a struggling pupil. It was MN, sight unseen but going on my descriptions, that diagnosed him. He was later professionally assessed as being on the 5th centile - how could they miss that!shock
Some schools might have bucked up their ideas now that the league tables look at Value Added but in the old days when it was measured on A*-C grades no one (apart from the pupil) cared as long as it was more than a D grade.

mrz Sat 02-Aug-14 08:38:37

How did he pass the academic entrance exam? The school would see a contradiction ... a child who successfully passed the exam yet performed poorly in class.

I'm being told be those who professionally assess that children must be below the 1st centile to be considered for statutory assessment and even then it must be in multiple areas ... it's very much a lottery which tips in favour of those who can afford to pay. Sadly the system is open to exploitation.

Hakluyt Sat 02-Aug-14 09:16:13

"than those with children at state secondaries"

Ah, yes. I keep on forgetting that us state school parents spend out lives slouched on the sofa watching Jeremy Kyle while our children throw chairs in their state schools......

LIZS Sat 02-Aug-14 09:24:37

but you still have to recognise that some do !

mrz Sat 02-Aug-14 09:29:40

I don't think it has anything to do with engagement more to do with ability to pay.

CecilyP Sat 02-Aug-14 09:34:50

I don't think LIZS was saying, or even implying, that at all, Hak. It is just more likely that parents who are as invested in education enough to pay are more likely to look for, and pay for, a diagnosis if their seemingly bright children are performing more averagely at school.

With regard to the OP, I do remember a few years ago, a post of the TES website from a teacher in an expensive and prestigious girls' school who said that 50% of her year 10s and 11s had a diagnosis of dyslexia and had special arrangements.

LIZS Sat 02-Aug-14 09:45:31

I was expressing the argument of the interview I had heard , not my own btw. Last year JCQ changed the criteria so it is much harder to successfully gain extra time. It is very specific now and schools such as quoted may well be finding it much tougher. One of the issues could well be access to an Ed Psych or individual suitably qualified to assess. Some SENCOs may be able to do so but often you need an external Ed Psych. Being able to fund this privately could well be a factor .

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