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How far 'behind' do you have to be with spelling / writing to trigger help?

(28 Posts)
firstchoice Mon 24-Feb-14 21:09:15

Hi
thinking of moving to English education system.
have child age 9.7 who has been assessed as 7.6 for spelling / writing but no help to be given despite fact reg scores 1/10 for spelling tests with inevitable damage to self esteem and teasing from other kids.

before I make a drastic move can I ask - what is 'average' for help offered in such situations, please?

ps can give eg of writing if helpful. did start another thread asking re 'levels' and had some kind replies but now realise that it is apparently not okay to ask re levels???

mrz Mon 24-Feb-14 21:26:58

I'm afraid like levels there isn't a simple answer

lougle Mon 24-Feb-14 21:50:21

Hi firstchoice, nobody will be able to give you a definitive answer, because there really isn't one.

A child who is working from a low starting point but making steady progress, is likely to be seen to be 'doing well'.

Scoring 1/10 for spelling tests is obviously stressful for your child. The question I'd ask is whether your child is secure in the 'easier' spellings and just not at the level that is being tested, or whether they really can't spell even the most basic of words? Is the child consistent with spelling errors, or does he/she spell the same word in different ways throughout their work? Does the spelling he/she uses make sense? e.g. speshul, livd, thred, etc., or is it really hard to work out why they used the letters they did?

That sort of thing will tell you more about your child than the fact that they have a spelling/writing age of 7.6.

BCBG Mon 24-Feb-14 21:53:39

Don't know anything about 'levels' and don't know what system you are currently in, but I would say that in the English system a child of nearly ten with under performing spelling skills/writing skills but who is achieving averagely or well in other areas would probably prompt the teacher to consider checking for dyslexia.

firstchoice Mon 24-Feb-14 22:04:55

Ok, thanks.

couple of examples of recent work are:

'On staturdy I went to my swiming lesons it was borng. wen I got back from the lesans I plad minecraft. I bilt a rode mad out of blak and wite wool. You can get wite wool by kiling a sheep, shering a sheep and by crafthing it from 9 bits of sthing. you can get blak wool by: crafting it from bone meel you can croft bone meel from one bone. you can get bones from a scelingtan.) and cactos grn.'

another example is:

'well mysereas boy (stil unknon) robd bob 2 times 1st he rodb a £10000000 the 2nd time he rodb a hen that lay goldom egs. the 3rd time he did nto scsed in steling the hare because the hare shawtid marster marster sumwon is tring to sterling me! why that it we think bob said that th'

the writing will slope over three lines on lined paper. there are no paragraphs, often no capital letters or full stops. frequently starts 2 inches away from left hand margin and keeps writing the word off the edge of the page. Letters transposed and endless rubbing out. sometimes only three words per line.

( I did use these egs in a recent thread asking about grading so apologies if I am repeating myself)

wheresthebeach Mon 24-Feb-14 22:15:38

At DD school they tested her for dyslexia when she had a spelling age of 7 when she was 7 yr 4 months!

lougle Mon 24-Feb-14 22:36:40

I'm of no value to you because I'm not a teacher, but can I just say that I loved 'scelingtan' and 'cactos'!

columngollum Mon 24-Feb-14 23:07:35

I'm of no value to you because I'm not a teacher

That's about the most incorrect statement I've ever read. When it comes to spelling we're all in the same boat, teachers, non-teachers, young and old, I'm afraid.

lougle Mon 24-Feb-14 23:08:55

I meant that I think the OP is looking for an answer that a teacher may give about what sort of action would be taken in her situation. I'm not a teacher so my answer will not give her what she wants.

columngollum Mon 24-Feb-14 23:09:36

With reading we can all have our pet theories and argue about them till hell freezes over. But when it comes to spelling, you can either spell accommodation or you can't.

columngollum Mon 24-Feb-14 23:10:31

The teachers don't know any better than we do. If they did we'd all be great spellers!

firstchoice Mon 24-Feb-14 23:17:38

Yes, I am trying to decide if it is worth re-locating to access more help than we can receive where we live now (none).

It seems like pot luck?

columngollum Mon 24-Feb-14 23:19:17

There's a website called apples and pears that you can try. I've heard good things about it.

wheresthebeach Tue 25-Feb-14 00:31:44

We did apples and pears. Made a huge difference.

mrz Tue 25-Feb-14 07:06:32

It is "pot luck" I'm afraid firstchoice I would hope most schools would have support in place but the quality of that support can vary from school to school so really it would be a case of looking at schools you are interested in and asking how they would help your daughter.
Apples and Pears is an excellent synthetic phonics spelling programme but from the sample of work you posted I would suggest there are a number of areas to work on not just spelling.
good luck

NaffOrf Tue 25-Feb-14 07:18:21

I'd be more concerned at the idea you have to kill a sheep before you can shear it...

TheRoadLessTravelled Tue 25-Feb-14 07:38:41

In general you get lots of help in uk schools. My school runs billions of interventions. For absolutely everything. My kids have been in handwriting interventions, writing interventions and spelling interventions.

However, the help may or may not be effective....

I'm really sure he would either get extra help with his writing or he'd be working on a table with others at the same level. So instead of extra help it'd be part of every lesson.

Less likely to get extra help specifically with spelling - although certainly possible he would. But, as others have said, a) you can do that at home with apples and pears and b) that's not his biggest problem and c) they may do something if you ask.

You don't say where you live, but I do think, for all their faults, uk schools are very good at differentiating and supporting children who are at different stages. Plus everything over here is about building confidence and being positive.

They don't care about things like spelling ages. Because they don't believe all children are the same. They do care about levels and will do absolutely everything they can to get your DS to a 4b in writing by the end of y6 (aged 11)

And a 4b is significantly better than where he is now....

lougle Tue 25-Feb-14 09:36:25

"uk schools are very good at differentiating and supporting children who are at different stages"

I'm not sure it's as simple as this. I think schools are good at differentiating work to suit the level of the child. I think they support children 'where they are'. I think they try to move them on.

I think the really big issue, is that they don't (all) have the time/expertise to work out why the child is where they are, and whether they would be where they are if they had a different method of teaching.

Using the example of my DD2:

She's year 2, August born. Several staff at her school have told me they think she's 'really quite bright'. Yet, she is in the lowest group for maths. She can't count money (despite teaching at home and school). She isn't secure in her number bonds to ten (she knows them forwards, backwards, inside out, but doesn't realise that 'the number bond of 4 is 6' means that '4+6=10'). Can't use number bonds to inform her other maths work. Can't count in 10's to 100 (can reel off '10-20-30-40-50....' but when asked to break it down says '10 add 10 is 20; 20 add 20 is 30; 30 add 30 is 40...')

She's in a middling group for literacy, but if working independently: Doesn't use capital letters at the beginning of a sentence. Uses capital letters part way through sentences (in non-capitalised words). Doesn't consistently use full stops. Doesn't spell well (at all). Doesn't stay on a line. Doesn't use a consistent size of writing. Doesn't write in full sentences.

She has taken from September til now to settle in her Y2 class. She'd become so disconnected that she couldn't write a title from the white board.

However, she is 'bright'. Truly she is. Questions she asks can be quite profound ('why is there no gravity in space if there's gravity on Earth?' 'can you show me a picture of what's inside a frog, because the skin is in the way and I can't see?').

Now I think she has SN, have told the school, they agree (off the record!) but when we talk about her learning in maths (I think she needs a much more explicit teaching method in general, which is why she isn't learning. I also think she needs a much more visual method, eg. numicon, which the school has but DD has never used) they say:

'Oh well there will be other children of her ability.

They are choosing to see her as low ability rather than low attaining.

This happens a lot, from what I can see. If a teacher teaches and the child doesn't learn, the teacher forms the view that the child is of low ability.

I believe that sometimes a child doesn't need to be taught easier versions in the same way, but needs to be taught differently.

firstchoice Tue 25-Feb-14 09:42:44

thanks for the tip re apples and pears. will have a look!

I have found a school and am tempted to send a similar post to the HT with some samples of childs work I have photocopied from the writing jotter to ask if she feels that progress is needed and support would be offered? Would that make me look like a loon though??? I see that to ask about support before a child joins a school is a bit hmm but I don't want to disrupt children unless I know that better support would be offered, iyswim?

mrz and TheRoadLessTravelled - you have both suggested that spelling isn't the only / the biggest potential issue - I would be really grateful if you could say some more about this? I am not asking for a 'diagnosis online' and I certainly wont be offended as I wonder if there is 'more to it' too but where I live there is blank denial about all and any 'issues' (for all children around here) and I am only a parent, so I just don't know what 'red flags' to be mindful of seeing, iyswim? Can you say what you think might also be of concern?

my main concern is the lack of confidence. my child is sitting in a class with children between 1 and 2 years younger, is bottom of the spelling test list every week, is slowest at writing, is UPSET by it, and they 'don't see an issue - child will be fine by High School'. What if child ISNT? and what happens to confidence meantime?

firstchoice Tue 25-Feb-14 10:41:19

Cross post, lougle...
Your post is really helpful - thank you.x

YES! I agree - that's the issue with my child - high ability (took a series of visual IQ tests) but low attainment. Consequent frustration and low self esteem. School we are at, sadly, simply 'not bovvered' and local LEA the same. The High School does have good rep but we are still 3.5 years away from that. Partly it is being masked because child sitting 1 year below. If in 'proper year group' which child would be put into if we moved to England, then I think the 'issues' would be more obvious? Needs to be school that will HELP though otherwise self esteem issues will get worse...

mrz Tue 25-Feb-14 17:10:56

You've highlighted some of the obvious issues -

Ability to write on a line
Basic punctuation
Sentence structure
Letter formation /handwriting

firstchoice Wed 26-Feb-14 10:07:18

thanks, mrz.

would you expect a 'good' school to be able to help with this though?

if he is dyslexic (in handwriting at least) then is there anything they can do, at nearly 10?

wol1968 Wed 26-Feb-14 10:52:35

Your son's writing standards look just like my son's - he's just turned 10 and I'm worried about possible undiagnosed dyslexia. Provision in UK schools varies enormously and I don't reckon much on what my DS is getting at his (Ofsted good-to-outstanding) school. I think he's probably not low-attaining enough to trigger a diagnosis, and certainly not a free LA assessment, but at the same time his problems with writing are affecting his confidence in his ability to learn. It's really bothering me.

firstchoice Wed 26-Feb-14 11:28:59

Hi Wol
thanks for this. I might pm you, if that's ok?

that's the problem with my son - his thirst for learning is unmet by his (poor) school and his confidence in his abilities just keeps reducing. He describes himself as 'stupid' which is heartbreaking (and wrong!).

mrz Wed 26-Feb-14 19:10:49

I would expect a "good" school to always do their best to support all pupils and with hard work from your son and his teacher for him to improve.
What has his present school do up to now?

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