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to wonder why some primary teachers know very little about dyslexia?

(50 Posts)
pleasekeepcalmandcarryon Tue 26-Jul-11 14:00:15

All the secondary schools I have visited seem very clued up about SpLD and provide decent support but imo it is a bit late in the day to leave dx and support until high school.

My DS has only just been diagnosed (privately not through school) at end of yr 5 and speaking to other parents I have discovered we are not the only ones. I also know children from other primary schools who have only been diagnosed in yr5/6 after parents have pushed or gone private (usually the latter).

The teachers at my son's school admit they don't know much about it. I am surprised at this as I would have thought it would be part of teacher training-I'm sure upwards of 10% of the population are dyslexic so it's not as though it is rare.

If dyslexia is recognised and understood it's not difficult to make adjustments/use technology and learning programmes such as toe by toe. Instead it seems that a lot of kids are still left to flounder in bottom groups without the right support unless stubborn and pushy proactive parents like myself try and get to the bottom of what is going on.

Most dyslexic children show classic signs (difficulty with timestables, can't tell time, spelling problems, poor handwriting) which to me stand out a mile particularly when the child (and all the ones I know are) is verbally articulate.

I don't understand why, when a fair amount of emphasis is put on testing for and supporting SpLD at secondary, there seems so little at primary level. Most of the damage to self esteem, self belief has probably happened by the time they are ten. I remember the dyslexic kids who were failed when I was at primary and not a lot seems to have changed in 30yrs. sad

I would be interested to hear POV of primary teachers as to whether this is normal across the country. Despite dyslexia being given a higher profile through celebs like Kara Tointon and this years Apprentice winner recognition still seems woeful.

Renaissance227 Tue 26-Jul-11 14:54:03

I agree with a lot of your points here but I don't think you can say this is the case for "all" primary schools and these children are certainly not all left to "flounder in bottom groups without the right support". In primary schools, as far as I am aware, the children are not put into groups by ability, this happens in secondary schools. Plus there are a great many of schools who have good knowledge of this and most schools have a good teaching assistant provision with at least one in every class to assist children with this (and other) problem(s).
Just because your DS has a school, which is not very clued up does not really prove that the entire country is like this.
By the way, on many teacher training courses (especially primary) dyslexia IS part of the training, just not always a major focus, as there are lots of problems/needs pupils can have along with this.

addictedtofrazzles Tue 26-Jul-11 14:59:52

I don't think YABU but I think it is worth baring in mind that Primary teachers are "jack's of all trades" as such. Certainly in my teacher training (only one year!), I chose to write a paper on Dyslexia because, like you say, it is under diagnosed and mis-understood. But I was never 'taught' about dyslexia, I had to teach myself, as such.

I then went into the independent sector where the Head was not interested in paying for staff courses (in the four years I was there I never had one training day...). However, any concerns I had about children were passed onto the SN dept and addressed with parents - you would be surprised how many parents refuse to acknowledge that their children are struggling...!

Anyway, I write in haste and hope that makes sense!

SuzysZoo Tue 26-Jul-11 15:02:04

A teacher (at another state school) told me that you will never even get a state school primary school teacher to discuss dyslexia because children don't get funding until secondary level..... I don't know how true this is mind you.....

itisnearlysummer Tue 26-Jul-11 15:53:36

My teacher training included no training on dyslexia. In fact it only had 1 lecture on SEN. No research, no essay, no more.

I had a child with autism in a class and was given a booklet published by the DfES called "supporting children on the autistic spectrum". The rest I had to research myself and work out by trial and error. I didn't go on any related training courses.

There was no training. I will have known less than the parents, yet they came to me as the 'expert' because I was the teacher.

itisnearlysummer Tue 26-Jul-11 15:55:14

Don't always assume that the teacher knows everything! They do their best, in the main, they genuinely care, but they don't know everything.

PonceyMcPonce Tue 26-Jul-11 15:58:29

I think it can be easier to spot when a child is older because the difference between ability and performance becomes more noticeable.

Of course by that time, self esteem can be very low and behavioural problems can be established

noblegiraffe Tue 26-Jul-11 16:07:25

I'm a secondary school teacher and I've had bugger all training in dyslexia.

manicbmc Tue 26-Jul-11 16:36:24

I am our primary's dyslexia support. We screen children who are displaying difficulties from around year 1/2. If they are dyslexic then the lucky little cherubs get to come to me for some small group or 1:1 work.

If your primary isn't offering these kinds of assessment (ours is done through the LEA) then they are failing their intake. Most teachers will not have any specific training in dyslexia though should be able to spot when something is wrong. It's really not that difficult.

manicbmc Tue 26-Jul-11 16:37:45

And children do get extra funding if they have a diagnosis of dyslexia that warrants being at school action plus.

EuphemiaMcGonagall Tue 26-Jul-11 17:07:04

Primary teachers are expected to cure society's ills know about so many things these days, we end up jacks of all trades and master of few.

On my PGDE we had one session on dyslexia, where some woman read off slides of 100+ words all about the legislation surrounding SEN. hmm

Feenie Tue 26-Jul-11 17:26:10

If your primary isn't offering these kinds of assessment (ours is done through the LEA) then they are failing their intake.

Some LEAs won't even recognise dyslexia, manicbmc.

We offer intensive 1:1 until children have caught up - and in most cases overtaken their peers.

manicbmc Tue 26-Jul-11 18:13:30

But they are failing them. It's like not recognising that someone is blind or deaf!

Feenie Tue 26-Jul-11 18:20:51

Indeed, it's a national scandal. But that's why it's often down to individual schools, like my own. Our LEA give no support - they don't recognise dyslexia, and the children weren't far enough behind. hmm

pleasekeepcalmandcarryon Tue 26-Jul-11 18:28:42

Thank you for your replies, as I suspected it seems to be luck of the draw as to whether you are in a school/LEA that gives it priority.

manicbmc-my son has been on action plus for sometime and I am not aware of funding attached to it, if there is I would like to know what it is spent on because it hasn't been him!

I wasn't having a go at primary teachers in my OP, most I have met are lovely, dedicated people. It's more the lack of training and early intervention at primary level generally. I think this is a central government/funding issue actually.

Obviously if I had known my DS would be dyslexic I would have sought a school with a dyslexic teacher on staff but it is sad that children's outcomes are based purely on the chance of being in the right school at the right time.

TheFlyingOnion Tue 26-Jul-11 18:45:31

FWIW I think teacher training is total crap... Barely anything on sen, dyslexia, autism, gifted and talented, a couple of sessions on child protection... I found it a total waste of time and learned everything "on the job".

Feenie Tue 26-Jul-11 18:46:56

I second that!

Hassled Tue 26-Jul-11 18:52:27

Dyslexia is notoriously difficult to diagnose before a certain age (7?8?) because it's so hard to tell what's a "normal" issue with, say, reversing letters and what's not. I mean you have to wait and see which children are going to grow out of these problems and which aren't. There isn't a "norm" until quite late.

I can't find the thread, but years ago on MN I asked about the amount of SEN training that teachers get when they're doing a PGSE or whatever (this was in relation to my DSs' Dyspraxia). And I was really alarmed by how little training people were saying they'd had - the realisation that you could get an NQT in a class with maybe a day or so of SEN training.

EuphemiaMcGonagall Tue 26-Jul-11 18:52:50

Hear, hear!

I learned more in my induction year than as a student: the uni expected the schools to show us how to teach and the schools expected us to have been taught how by the uni ... nightmare!

manicbmc Tue 26-Jul-11 18:53:39

It may be different in your LEA but here action plus means funding for 45 minutes of 1:1 time - though kids rarely get that. It's usually in groups to allow some on school action to also access extra help.

Hulababy Tue 26-Jul-11 19:01:13

I did no dyslexia training as part of my teaching degree. I did very little on specific SENs at all tbh.

pleasekeepcalmandcarryon Tue 26-Jul-11 21:29:09

manic- he has been in a reading group in the past so that's probably where it has been used. Problem is he hated the group and was bored by it, he complained the work was too easy.

I think this is why specific dyslexia knowledge and help is needed- a ten year old boy will not have the interest or motivation to read Biff and Chip even if his reading age is quite low.

I think it is rather shocking that little or no SEN training is covered in initial teacher training. A bit of knowledge and awareness could save a lot of kids and parents distress (would probably help the teachers too).

LRDTheFeministDragon Tue 26-Jul-11 21:55:37

It's hardly the teachers' fault if they're not well trained.

'Most dyslexic children show classic signs (difficulty with timestables, can't tell time, spelling problems, poor handwriting) which to me stand out a mile particularly when the child (and all the ones I know are) is verbally articulate.'

Really? Don't believe it.

corriefan Tue 26-Jul-11 21:58:14

I had no lectures about SEN in my PGCE. SEN training is often down to the SENCO doing a training session. In a single class there can be a huge range in ability so it can take a while to spot that a child's literacy and memory are below what you'd expect from them based on their oral work.

Once initial concerns are raised, the process leading to diagnosis is thorough and lengthy, possibly starting with catch up reading sessions or extra phonics which address the problem without needing an official dx.
Also, parents know their own kids better than teachers who have up to 30 to think about, so of course they might pick things up sooner, I don't see why that's such a bad thing!

pleasekeepcalmandcarryon Tue 26-Jul-11 22:04:54

Of course it's not the teachers fault it does seem however that there is a gap in initial teacher training regarding SpLD, be it dyslexia, dyspraxia, asd etc..

Many dyslexic children are verbally articulate, it's expressing themselves in written way that is often difficult. Problems with timestables/telling the time are common problems. Not sure why you don't believe this? confused

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