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Poor handwriting and help with exams

(26 Posts)
IDK Fri 28-Sep-12 10:54:43

Can anybody offer advice
DS is quite bright (of course he is, he's a MN child!) He is in G&T and was on the school's Oxbridge watchlist. His GCSEs were OK but not amazing. His AS results are again OK but not amazing. He is now in Year 13 doing subjects that involve lots of essays.

DS has appalling handwriting and I would like some extra help in exams for him. I have tried raising it with the SENCO who is being very unhelpful and says that he is too old to take action on now. She is implying that there is not a real problem because if there was then it would have been mentioned earlier. She says that help is not available for pupils falling below their potential it is only available for those falling below the average. It seems that we are being penalised for soldiering on and not kicking up a stink before now. I wish that I had ignored DS befre when he said shh mum. don't make a fuss. don't be embarassing

She says that it is easy to get permission to use a computer but that is not a good solution for two reasons. DS has poor dexterity so mastering a keyboard is not much easier than mastering a pen. Also he will not have enough time to practice to get up to a decent wpm before exams.

She has fobbed us off by suggesting that we speak to our GP to get a medical report. Does anyone know how long this process takes? Any other helpful hints?

MadameDefarge Fri 28-Sep-12 14:42:45

this could be due to dyspraxia or dysgraphia. both conditions should get extra time in exam. gp can refer for ot assessment. perhaps best not to rely on school at this stage. my dn got assessed privately at this age and this was accepted as reason for extra time. ds has dyspraxia and gets xtra time at 12.

creamteas Fri 28-Sep-12 14:58:36

The school are fobbing you off probably because of the cost. It is not cheap, so I would go back to them and press for an assessment of his writing.

If he is thinking of going to uni, he will most likely be able to use the assessment to be allowed special arrangements in exams etc. (Usually a post 16 report is needed. So if you can't get the school to pay, it might be worth investing in an private Ed Psychologist report.

IDK Sun 30-Sep-12 17:09:34


DogsCock Sun 30-Sep-12 20:16:55

Get him an appointment at a private ed psych. He can get extra time, a scribe or keyboard exams on their recommendations.

IDK Sun 30-Sep-12 22:41:36

I don't understand: why will a psychologist be qualified to report on a physical problem confused
How do I go about finding one?
Are the school and the exam board bound by their findings?

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Sun 30-Sep-12 22:49:36

DS has dysgraphia but is very bright. Luckily our SENCo organised for him to have extra time and for his work to be transcribed for exams. Like your DS, we were advised against using a laptop because DS cannot recall where the letters are on the keyboard so has to scan the whole keyboard for each letter. It is perfectly possible to be high functioning and qualify for extra help.

23balloons Sun 30-Sep-12 22:53:45

You don't have to use an Ed Psych, you can also use a registered SpLD Teacher. I believe you can search for one in your area PATOSS. I work in HE & the reports are accepted for DSA and extra time. I also had my 11 yr old assessed privately and discovered he was dyslexic, his school still didn't believe me but I made them apply for extra time for his SATS and he was granted it with the report.
I would get him assessed privately if I were you, as far as I know assessments are not available on the NHS so the school would have to pay and it doesn't sound like they want to. We discover many students who get to Uni are dyslexic and it has never been picked up all through their school days.

23balloons Sun 30-Sep-12 23:00:27

I am not sure I gave the right link but the assessors we use are members of PATOSS. You could probably also find somebody through Dyslexia Action

IDK Sun 30-Sep-12 23:09:30

Thanks for the links 23 but I am not sure that they fit the bill. He doesn't have dyslexia or a learning difficulty AFAIK. It is more of a physical problem like dyspraxia.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Sun 30-Sep-12 23:14:50

Dyspraxia comes under the catergory of 'learning disability' or 'special needs'. You can have a high IQ and a learning disabilty/difficulty.

Copthallresident Sun 30-Sep-12 23:46:44

Specific Learning Differences like Dyslexia and Dyspraxia manifest themselves physically as well as in terms of learning difficulties, there is a spectrum of problems (and strengths). This is an overview Both my Dyslexic daughters have problems with fine motor control and one of the things a Psych Ed will test is writing speed, in both DDs' cases it is where in the spectrum of difficulties they score worst.

hellhasnofury is quite right, SLDs affect 10% of the population regardless of IQ but DCs of high IQ will often find strategies to cope and so may not get picked up until problems manifest themselves when they are faced with working at a higher level or a sensitive teacher spots that there is unrealised potential. I would have thought someone on the Oxbridge watchlist not getting amazing GCSEs might be a sign that he is not achieving his potential. Sadly some schools do seem to take the view that if a pupil's achievement is above average they are not a priority for support.

As you say it may actually be just a physical problem but I would have thought it might be wise to eliminate the possibility it is an SLD. I suspect that would be a GPs advice if there isn't some reason such as injury, or particular tenderness and pain to help with a physical diagnosis. As creamteas says once you have an EdPsychs report it opens the door to the support he will need at uni, where they are generally much better at supporting bright DCs with SLDs than many schools IME.

Tinuviel Mon 01-Oct-12 12:10:02

I would have thought that you need to be referred via your GP to Occupational Therapy for a dyspraxia diagnosis. Our OT did a great report, which we have been told should get DS1 extra time in exams. This was via NHS. DS1 does have other issues but the OT seemed fairly sure that her report should get him the extra time anyway.

DogsCock Mon 01-Oct-12 12:54:20

OP - I was told about ds awful handwriting before his GCSE's. The school recommended he see an Ed Psych . We paid privately. He sent his report off to the examining board with his recommendation of extra time. Then the school let me know that he had got it. It was all done and dusted very quickly (possibly 3 weeks start to finish).

Betelguese Wed 10-Oct-12 19:47:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

IDK Wed 10-Oct-12 22:49:49

Insist to GP that DS must be referred.

<hollow laugh> The GP was useless. He more or less said "the SENCO thinks there isn't a problem so, without even seeing DS, I'm going to go along with that and not do anything. It's not a GP's role, it's the schools role so go back to them. I don't know anyone to refer you to anyway"

Thanks to the above info on PATOSS, I have found an assessor and have an appointment booked.

camptownraces Wed 10-Oct-12 22:56:51

"DS has appalling handwriting"

Does this mean it's illegible? if so his school should assess his handwriting with a recognised test. It takes 30 minutes.

I hope his school has someone on the staff capable of administering such a test.

Plenty of people have messy handwriting which is difficult to read. Lots have slow handwriting which is often down to the way they grip the pen. It doesn't have to be a specific learning difficulty however fascinating that may be.

At this stage of Year 13, there is still time for this to be dealt with. However, if none of his teachers have commented, may be it's not that bad?

Do you think he can communicate the answers with a pen? What's his typing like? [Bashing a key on a keyboard is a lot easier than forming a legible letter, though he may need practice to get up to speed]

More questions than answers here. But it's probably worth pursuing if any teachers have remarked on his handwriting at parents' evenings, or in school reports. Have they?

Popumpkin Wed 10-Oct-12 23:02:05

He needs a scribe for exams by the sound of it. DS1 is in Year 10 and uses a netbook for the same reasons - he will have a scribe for his GCSE's though as his spoken answers are still way better than he can get down in writing, even with the netbook.

Does your DS have SEN though? Here you can only get help if you have been diagnosed with something.

Betelguese Thu 11-Oct-12 01:40:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mummytime Thu 11-Oct-12 07:28:32

Ask/demand that the school assess his speed at handwriting and compare with his assessed speed at using a keyboard.

eatyourveg Thu 11-Oct-12 11:25:29

I was on a course last week about computers and assistive technologies and was told that exam boards are beginning to accept software such as Dragon speech recognition instead of having to have a scribe. Maybe something to ask the senco about.

IDK Thu 08-Nov-12 20:24:40

DS had his assessment last week and we are waiting for the written report. The teacher has told us verbally that he is bright but has a LD of the dyspraxia type.

diddlediddledumpling Thu 08-Nov-12 20:41:14

Can I give an alternative viewpoint? I teach and also work as an a-level examiner for my subject. In any given exam series I might read and/or mark up to 250 candidates' work and have been doing this for over 10 years. In some cases I would describe the writing as appalling, but never completely illegible. I can pretty much always read what has been written. I know other examiners I work with are the same, it is almost never the case that a candidate loses marks because of their handwriting.
On occasion, I'll get a script which has been transcribed for the candidate, and while this is usually without issue, sometimes the scribe makes errors that would lose marks (I can check original script and see what the candidate wrote). This is obviously very serious and I always comment on my report that the scribe should be retrained or not used again.
What I'm saying is that a scribe is probably not necessary for your ds.

Extra time, on the other hand, would almost always be beneficial.

mummytime Thu 08-Nov-12 20:44:32

Haven't they given a verbal report? When my son has been assessed, the school have known instantly even if the assessment was done by a specialist from the LA.

IDK Thu 08-Nov-12 20:59:14

The SpLD teacher has told us the outcome verbally, she is writing it up for us to give to the school. She will be recommendng extra time.

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