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Additional English help - Miskin

(12 Posts)
LadyWellian Thu 08-Sep-11 18:08:11

DD has just started secondary, not really had any proper lessons yet (first day of normal timetable is tomorrow) but looking at her planner she has one session called 'English - Miskin'. I asked her what this was and she said it was for extra help with English. I googled Miskin and found out it is the name of a dyslexia guru.

DD has never been diagnosed with dyslexia - she reads quite well though she doesn't seem to enjoy it much, but she does have some dyslexic character traits - poor presentation of work, catastrophic personal organisation etc. I did ask her teacher (same one for Y5 and Y6) a couple of times if she could be assessed but the teacher didn't feel it was a priority.

In her Y6 SATS she did pretty well - can't find the results right now but her teacher assessment was 5B reading/4B writing, and IIRC the SATS results were slightly better (4A writing maybe).

I'm not at all upset by this Miskin class and neither is she, but it seems amazing that the new school could have picked up on an additional need just from the CATS tests they did last term when her old school never thought there was a problem at all.

Can anyone tell me what 'English - Miskin' in a secondary context is likely to entail?

maverick Thu 08-Sep-11 19:48:52

Ruth Miskin is not a dyslexia guru. She is a past head teacher, a leading synthetic phonics programme writer (google Read Write Inc.) and trainer. She could be seen as a dyslexia prevention guru smile
The RWI programme has various linked programmes under the same banner -there's a secondary intervention one called Fresh Start, which is excellent, but also one for English comprehension.


maizieD Thu 08-Sep-11 20:36:30

I work in a Secondary school using the Ruth Miskin 'Fresh Start' programme. It is by way of a 'booster' programme which builds on the phonic knowledge that pupils already have and filling in any 'gaps'.

I'm afraid that KS2 SATs results for 'reading' are not always particularly reliable. For instance, I tested two pupils today who have a L4 for reading, yet they could read very little beyond simple one syllable words. Multi-syllable words were quite a problem for them. I could say more about some primary practice, but I won't biscuit And, the 'reading' paper does not test phonic skills at all, just comprehension.

If the RM programme is run properly she should be slotted in at the level at which she starts having problems. I quite often start pupils right near the end of the programme just to consolidate their multi-syllable word reading skills.

I wouldn't worry about 'dyslexia'. A good 90% of my pupils just suffer from inadequate phonics teaching. Once they get the idea they are fine!

You say she reads quite well but doesn't seem to enjoy it much. That is often a clear pointer to a child not being secure with the phonic knowledge they need for working out unfamiliar words. They avoid reading because they struggle and feel inadequate.

Maverick is right, Ruth Miskin is definitiely not a 'dyslexia guru'. She is a very committed lady with a desire to have all children reading to the best of their ability.

Am just going to echo what Maverick and Maize have said and agree completely that Ruth Miskin's programmes can realy help children who haven't set secured full phonic knowledge. However, I do wonder what precisely the school intend to achieve with just one lesson a week. It works best to do it little and often ime.

really - apologies for lost l.

LadyWellian Thu 08-Sep-11 23:16:54

Thanks, guys. I was probably just reading the summaries on the Google search without sufficient care.

I'll be interested to find out on Tuesday what DD thinks of it and the kinds of things they are doing.

If any of you are still around,can you explain how the school will have picked up the need based on the CATS test, which DD said only entailed writing lines in boxes?

maizieD Fri 09-Sep-11 00:03:02

I googles CAT test and this was the first result. There were loads more.

We used to do them but abandoned them years ago (before I started working at the school). I don't know why they were abandoned...

LadyWellian Fri 09-Sep-11 00:19:35

Thanks a lot for that Maizie, it was very interesting. Someone told me CATS stood for 'curriculum assessment tests' and I just believed them - I'm new to this secondary school lark grin

So I guess it seems likely there was a discrepancy between the VR and the NVR. I'm very glad she'll be getting extra help if she needs it.

startail Fri 09-Sep-11 00:37:20

I wish someone had done this with my dyslexic DD, two years ago.
She had a scribe for her SATs because her spelling was so dreadful she couldn't produce intelligible answers.
However, she got such a good mark on the reading SAT that she got 5 for literacy overall.
Her reading out load is horribly inaccurate, but she's a clever girl and can, somehow, extract meaning from the dreadful muddle she seems to be in. She was always much happier discussing what her books were about than reading themgrin
Her phobic knowledge is dreadful, she still struggles to sound words out and takes wild stabs at spellings.
Does any one know if it's possible to do this scheme at home. Her school just don't have the resources to give to DCs who manage pretty wellsad

maizieD Fri 09-Sep-11 09:44:47


The Fresh Start programme is published by the Oxford University Press (OUP).

It basically consists of 34 'workbooks' (modules) which progress from extremely simple to complex. The workbooks can be bought singly, the whole lot would cost about £70, but you would need to know how to use them and the Handbook costs almost the same again! There is also the problem of knowing where to start in the programme - the 'placement test' is in that expensive Handbook. It is important not to start too 'low' as children find it very demeaning to be 'taught' what they already know and resist accordingly!

I would suggest that you have a look at Debbie Hepplewhite's Phonics International. This is an excellent (cheaper) programme and Debbie offers masses of (free) information on how to use it.

You could also look at 'That Reading Thing' which is a programme designed for older learners (post 16)

There are a number of other programmes which could be used at home but they all follow basically the same principles.

maizieD Fri 09-Sep-11 09:50:19

^She had a scribe for her SATs because her spelling was so dreadful she couldn't produce intelligible answers.
However, she got such a good mark on the reading SAT that she got 5 for literacy overall.^

This is where primaries can be very dodgy, particularly with bright pupils who they have failed to teach to read!
I worked with a child who had a 3a for his English at KS2. Not a sparkling level, but very remarkable in view of the fact that he could barely read or write a single word!

AgnesP Fri 16-Sep-11 11:49:55

I often think that it's this reliance on phonics and decoding ability that causes so many problems. My DD, like many, preferred to have the stories read to her when she was being bogged down with phonics and didn't make the connection between the decoding and the meaning of the story. If yours is stronger on reading than writing then I'd suggest giving her as many interesting and varied stories to read as possible; the more she reads, the more comfortable she'll get with spelling. I do think some children are having to find a way around the phonics system and almost teach themselves to read.

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