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Ds has a problem with spelling and I don't know how to help him

(45 Posts)
IvortheEngine Wed 02-Feb-05 16:42:06

Ds (11 years)was having help with his spelling last year. He was seeing the special needs teacher for about an hour once a week. This year he hasn't been going to see her. Ds told me yesterday that I needed to go and see the special needs teacher as she wanted to see me. I went at 3.30pm today. She said that nothing was wrong, she just needed to let me know that ds was being placed on the special needs register as this was required by the funding body. She asked me to sign a form saying that I'd been informed of this and said that I'd be given a letter to confirm this tomorrow. I asked what his problem was and she said that it was spelling. She showed me a test result of tests that he'd done back in Sept that showed he'd scored badly in spelling and in maths. I hadn't known anything of this test btw or the result (ie that he'd scored badly) until today. We had an open evening very recently and this wasn't mentioned at the evening. She went on to say that he wouldn't be coming to see her this school year as he was leaving (to go to secondary school). He'd be tested at the secondary school in July and if he showed that he needed help, he'd be given help, possibly by allowing him more time in the tests. I asked what the problem had been identified as and she said the fact that he's bi-lingual and him being a boy. He doesn't mix up his languages at home, I'm fluent in one and dh is fluent in both and he speaks both pretty well.

I'm sorry if this is badly written, but I'm a bit upset at all this. I think I'm a very hands on parent, as is dh, and we aren't strangers to the school, so they know us and surely know that we care and want the best for our children, so why weren't we informed? Why don't they plan to give him extra help this year? It seems that all they want from him is to have his name on a form so that they can get the funding to keep the sn teacher's post. Sorry, I'm about to go out, but I'll be back later. If anyone has any words of advice, I'd be very grateful. Sorry, I've changed my name as I don't want the school identified. I'll see dh when he comes home from work later and I think we'll make an appointment to see the teacher again, but I would like advice from anyone whose child has a problem with spelling (or dyslexia or discalclia (sp) or any experience at all in this field).

TIA

Gwenick Wed 02-Feb-05 16:44:58

Sorry can't really help on the things you've asked about - but it seems strange

a) that you weren't told about this test until recently!

b) That they should blame his bad spelling on being bi-lingual - I know many people who have been brought up bi-lingual (DH being one of them) and their spelling is all absolutely fine (in fact Englush is DH's '2nd' language and he can speak, read and write it - including the spelling - better than I can and I'm English and have only ever spoken English!

Hope someone with more experience of spelling can help

IvortheEngine Wed 02-Feb-05 17:17:46

Gwenick - Just a brief note as I have to make tea and take ds out afterwards. Thanks for your post. Re: a) The school is really bad for this and the parents know that they (at school) do not like to keep parents in the picture. It's not the first time and it won't be the last. b) Yes, I agree. I think they mean that as he speaks/reads/hears two languages, his exposure to the spelling is diluted by having two languages rather than one iykwim. Thanks again.

ks Wed 02-Feb-05 17:58:15

Message withdrawn

coppertop Wed 02-Feb-05 18:20:47

I agree with ks. This all sounds very suspicious. Either they think he has a problem or they don't. If they do think so then he should be put on the SN register and help should be given using the SN funding. If there's not enough of a problem for him to need help then he shouldn't be on the SN register at all. They can't take the funding and then do nothing with it for him.

I would make an official complaint to the Head and cc it to the governors. Tell them that if they don't deal with this then you will be taking the matter further.

janeybops Wed 02-Feb-05 18:50:05

Is he on the SN register so they can apply for extra time for him in the SATs? Just a thought as the deadline for these applications is usually February.

popsycal Wed 02-Feb-05 19:01:45

If you bump this up tomorrow morning, I will help if i can....

moondog Wed 02-Feb-05 19:07:25

Are you up to doing something on your own? If you are, I would strongly recommend a book called 'Why Children can't Read'. It is readable, logical and eminently practical with a very easy clear programme to follow.
Agree with that two language thing being a weak excuse. (Most of the world is bilingual ffs!)
Am I right in presuming that we are talking about Welsh/English given the name ?!

IvortheEngine Wed 02-Feb-05 19:51:45

Thank you all for your help.

Ds was seeing the sn teacher previously (Year 5) and in some (but I can't remember which) previous years, too. In the past, children have been going to see the sn teacher for months before parents have come to learn of it, and on several occasions it has come to light by the child mentioning it or by one of the other children in the class mentioning it to their parent who then mentioned it to the parent in question. That was a few years ago and it hasn't improved much as you can see. As ds said that he was no longer seeing the sn teacher, I thought that he was now up to speed.

I think I'm at a disadvantage as I went to a private school from the age of 7 years and it was very different. We had tests regularly and every term there would be a full report with lots of detail in it. We had homework each night and it was easy to see exactly what work was being done in school. At my children's school, homework is given on a sheet and is written in an exercise book, so you only get to see their work at the parents' evening which is (I think) twice a year. I accept this as normal for a state school as I don't know how to compare it, except to my own education which was very different.

I don't speak the language that they are taught in, so I'm disadvantaged there, too. I can just about follow the teacher's comment at the bottom of the page. You can ask to borrow their work to take home and look at but it rarely happens as you don't want to look odd by asking unless there is a good reason for needing to see it.

That's just a bit more background.

ks - I recognise your name, but I don't think we've "met". I think I've not realised the extent of ds' problem before now.

Yes, ks and coppertop, that's what I thought about the funding, too. I signed the form as she asked. I will have a copy of the form given to me tomorrow, I think.

ks - I don't know about IEP. I think School Action may have been written on this form but I'll know tomorrow. They don't hold regular meetings with parents whose children are on the sn register, to the best of my knowledge and experience. There is no action plan as far as I know. As I've understood it, when ds has been with the sn teacher, they just go over the 20 words that he's getting as spelling words that weekend. That's it. It means that he then finds it easy to learn them on the weekend and then scores well in the test on Monday. Oh, I feel quite down about this, now. Probably this is done very differently elsewhere.

Interesting point about the governors, coppertop. I can't say more as I don't want to be identified as the bi-lingual thing is a bit of a giveaway. I'll just say that I know the governors well. As a result, I have some confidence that we will be listened to when we both go for a meeting. Dh is used to this sort of thing in his work and knows how to go about getting things resolved.

janeybops - I don't know, but I will find out.

popsycal - Thanks for your offer of help.

Thanks again everyone. It's really appreciated.

IvortheEngine Wed 02-Feb-05 19:56:25

moondog - Yes, you do "know" me from another thread. I'm using a new name so that the school isn't able to be identified. I'll ask for that book at the library. Thanks for the recommendation.

roisin Wed 02-Feb-05 20:23:30

IvortheEngine - I agree with others here that it does sound rather odd. At our school all children who are getting 'extra help' in small groups or individually with literacy are immediately put on the first level of the sn register (and parents duly informed), simply as a matter of procedure.

Although it's clearly helpful for the paperwork to be up-to-date before the transfer to secondary school (and SATs if that's an issue too) I do think it's quite unreasonable for them to say; "he is having serious difficulties, but we're not going to do anything about it atm".

I just read your latest post, and just wanted to say, don't be afraid of being seen as 'odd' or a 'pushy parent'; in the end if your child benefits, it's worth it!

We were not happy with a number of issues with ds2's class/teacher last term. For ages we hesitated, because we knew she would think we were being pushy. But in the end we bit the bullet and arranged a proper appointment with her (and made it clear we didn't want just 5 minutes). We asked to see his work, expressed our concerns, and just put a few points across. In our case this has been tremendously positive experience, and ds2 has undoubtedly benefited. (Of course there are still some outstanding issues and always will be.) She will always view me as "pushy", but I can live with that!

moondog Wed 02-Feb-05 20:38:32

Sorry Ivor if I've been indiscreet.
Really really recommend the book, and have lots of professional and personal reasons for doing so. (My turn to be mysterious!)
The way you've been treated is completely out of order.

IvortheEngine Thu 03-Feb-05 10:22:57

roisin - Thanks for your post. I saw the sn teacher again this morning and made an appointment for early next week for dh and I to see her. I've asked for the test results for the Sept/Oct test that each child does every year for both my children for the last 3 years. The sn teacher said that we can see ds' tests themselves from the last occasion. I should have these before the weekend. I hope that these will show us if a pattern exists. Some good news I learned, ds didn't just do spellings with the sn teacher, it is phonics, crosswords, etc. I asked him this morning. I checked this morning and he has been seeing the sn teacher for several years. Also, I spoke to a friend and heard some bad news about other children at the school who have been diagnosed late on as having a learning difficulty despite the parents asking appropriate questions for months or years.

ks - The form says "(Name of County) LEA. Parent Partnership Service. Dear Parent/Guardian, Your child (name) has been identified as having special education needs and, as such, appropriate provision is being made for him/her at:-
Early Years Action (tick if appropriate)
Early Years Action Plus (tick if appropraite)
School Action (ticked by sn teacher)
School Action Plus (tick if appropriate)
You are welcome to contact me for further information.
However, in line with the SEN Code of Practice for (Name of Country) proposals, I wish to inform you that you are entitled to advice and support from the Parent Partnership Service. The designated officer for this service is:-
Name and address
Telephone number

Signed sn teacher (School SENCO) Date
Signed IvortheEngine (Parent) Date "

I'll see what I can find out about this service.

moondog - Don't worry, it's okay.

Thank you again, everyone, for your advice.

popsycal Thu 03-Feb-05 10:24:11

Ivor - I have to rush off and do something now but will come back to this thread
(I am a year 6 teacher with 8 years experience and a specialism in literacy) - may be able to offer some suggestions....

IvortheEngine Thu 03-Feb-05 10:29:54

popsycal - Thanks.

popsycal Thu 03-Feb-05 10:32:58

Bump the thread up this evening around 7ish or after if I haven't returned by then

IvortheEngine Thu 03-Feb-05 11:40:52

Okay.

IvortheEngine Thu 03-Feb-05 17:23:58

This is the info from ds' last 3 tests:-

Sept 2002
His age:- 8 years 10 months
Reading age, Welsh: 9 yrs 5+ mths
Reading age, English: 8 yrs 1 mth
Maths age: 8 yrs 9 mths
Spelling age: 6 yrs 8 mths

Sept 2003
His age:- 9 yrs 10 mths
Reading age, Welsh: 11 yrs 11 mths
Reading age, English: 8 yrs 6 mths
Spelling age: 7 yrs 3 mths

Sept 2004
His age:- 10 yrs 10 mths
Reading age, Welsh: 14 yrs 5 mths
Reading age, English: 11 yrs 6 mths
Spelling age: 8 yrs 7 mths
Maths score: 12 out of a possible 45
New type of English test: 10 yrs 8 mths

Single word spelling test Sept 2004. On the left the word he wrote. On the right, the word I think he was trying to write:-

andventsure = adventure
stoped = stopped
alltogether = altogether
brij = bridge
infomasion = information
dangerus = dangerous
insted = instead
bonsing = bouncing?
complaned = complained
diconary = dictionary
partys = parties
disgoverd = discovered
havs = havs
serch = search
thisty = thirsty
dameging = damaging
planing = planning?
laghing = laughing
enviroment = environment
tomatos = tomatoes
inveison = invasion
soronded = surrounded?
favorat = favourite
celobracions = celebrations
quitly = quietly
poisones = poisonous
majison = ?
charictor = character
resbonstible = responsible
marvoles = marvellous
sercomfrence = circumference

He correctly spelt:
dream, chair, sticking, because, night, watch, writing, replied, glasses, knew, treasure, respectful, disused, churches, entertained, paragraphs, worried, misunderstanding, automatic.

You can see on the sheet where he corrected his words during the test as he could see that they didn't look right. Eleven have been visibly corrected. Seven of these were then correct.

This is the info from dd's last 3 tests:-

Sept 2002
Her age:- 7 years 7 months
Reading age, Welsh: 9 yrs 5 mths
Reading age, English: 8 yrs 3 mths
Maths age: 8 yrs

Sept 2003
Her age:- 8 yrs 7 mths
Reading age, Welsh: 9 yrs 5 mths
Reading age, English: 10 yrs 1 mth
Maths age: 8 yrs 9 mths
Spelling age: 7 yrs 1 mth

Sept 2004
Her age:- 9 yrs 7 mths
Reading age, Welsh: 14 yrs 5 mths (same as ds - not an error - I have the test papers here)
Reading age, English: 11 yrs 6 mths (ditto)
Spelling age: 9 yrs 3 mths

Any advice welcomed.

P.S. I'd say "Sorry for the long post" but it doesn't really cover it, does it?

ks Thu 03-Feb-05 18:08:55

Message withdrawn

popsycal Thu 03-Feb-05 18:20:42

oh tohanks for those facts and figures...
will come back after 7....as promised!

IvortheEngine Thu 03-Feb-05 18:56:16

ks - Thanks for your post. No, I just thought that he'd been having a small problem with spelling and that he was now fine. It seems to me that at the school they're not keen on testing a child for dyslexia but I'll speak to dh and we can ask for him to be tested when we see the sn teacher next week. Must dash, sorry. Thanks again.

popsycal Thu 03-Feb-05 19:40:49

OK!!!

Sorry if this post is disjointed....and it may come in several posts if I forget something.

The first thing is the special needs things.
There are several levels on the special needs register. 'Information only' is the lowest level and parents don't need to be informed - sounds like this is what was happening last year - bit of extra help in a small group - catered for within the realms of normal teaching and learning. School action is the next level up. Children are usually transferred to this level when a little more input is needed. By law, schools must inform you and they tend to cover their backs by getting your signature (which they seem to have here). here is a little bit of information about 'school action' level . An Individual Education Plan (IEP) will also be prepared - all this is really is a list of targets which are reviewed regularly with you and DS and the school. It is just formalised a little bit. I wouldn't worry to much about it - in my opinion, it is a positive step and things can be kept track of and specific and measurable targets can be set - and hopefully DS will experience some success and gain some confidence! Please ask if you want to know anything more specific about this bit!

Off to check your thread again to pick up on the other bits

popsycal Thu 03-Feb-05 19:50:35

Next episode

Looking at his spellings, it really doesn't seem too bad!! I have seen much much much worse from middle set year six children.

The main areas with the spellings you have given as examples are:

Spelling rule knowledge:
* doubling consonants before adding endings
* plural rules
* tion/cian/sion endings
* and then 'non stressed vowel sounds in polysyllabic words' (gosh that is a mouthful!)

The first 2 things are very easy to sort out. Can help you out with that in a moment and that is where I would start as it is this basics.

It really does not look to me like dyslexia. he clearly 'hears' the sounds and uses phonetic skills to decode the words - but he doesn't have sufficient possibilities for writing the sounds. So, for eg, thirsty as thisty - doesn't realise 'ir' make the er sound.

In recent years, I have seen lots of children with these sorts of difficulties yet who are very good readers (as is your DS) and to some extent I blame the literacy hour. It came in around 7 years ago - roughly when your DS started school??? And it changed the way teachers had to teach English. However, support on spelling did not come from the 'authorities' until about 3 or 4 years down the line. Probably at a crucial point in your DS spelling learning. Some teachers are still trying to get to grips with how the literacy strategy wants them to teach spelling!

Anyway - I am now going to post a link for you. It is to a publication which is meant to support teachers with the teaching of spelling in the literacy strategy. I think it is one of the few publications in recent years that is of any use (IMHO). It goes through spelling rules, blends, etc, and gives examples and ideas of how these can be implemented in the classroom (or at home with your DS).......

Off to find the link....

popsycal Thu 03-Feb-05 19:53:09

here you go - it is the three downloads.....
The first gives the 'lessons' and the other 2 are support materials. It begins with adding endings.....if you want, I can break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks - please ask as it will take no time to do (currently on maternity leave!)

Other things you can do to helpp DS....off to find the links

popsycal Thu 03-Feb-05 19:58:15

bit of spelling fun here

Also, there is a cd which we use called Wordshark and a programme called Toe by Toe (though for dyslexics which I don't think your DS is....) Will find them for you in a minuute.

One more thing - please don't worry about the SATS. Spelling counts for 7 marks out of 100 and is ONLY marked on the spelling test - the written tests are NOT marked for spelling.

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