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Dyslexia school vs staying mainstream: what would you do?

(11 Posts)
alimac87 Fri 05-Jul-13 18:12:53

My DD of 12 has dyslexia, dyscalculia, issues with working memory, and mild speech/language problems (which we think are linked to working memory). I've posted before. We're still dithering. It has taken us all year but her school are finally beginning to put things in place - once a week 1:1 teaching, some small group teaching for maths etc etc. They have been very slow and tended to treat us as overprotective but we now have lots of evidence of what the problems are.

At the same time I've been investigating a specialist dyslexia school nearby: much smaller, focused on literacy/numeracy. They take children for a couple of years, then kids usually return to mainstream. DH is not sure. He's worried about the cost; also DD is quite settled socially. However, she is not doing very well at all academically. They have a slightly horrible system at her school where they predict GCSE grades and right now she might pass Art and that's about it. It's possible this might not change but my own thought is that going specialist for a couple of years might make a big difference. Or at least, help us understand where her strengths are. What would you do??

nostress Fri 05-Jul-13 18:32:49

Hi, although it sounds like a really good idea initially the school do seem to be starting to work through her issues. If she is so settled i would also worry about the social impact. If this specialist school is private I'm sure it would cost a lot of money! Might it be better to spend the money on several specialist tutor sessions instead? 1 hour english 1 hour maths? One hour one to one is worth so much more than in a class of 30!

Handywoman Fri 05-Jul-13 23:16:57

Mmmmm, on paper it may seem as though school are making 'an effort'. But what OP's dd may need is SPECIALIST TEACHING rather than 'a bit more of the same-old same-old'. Dyslexic kids need A LOT MORE, not a bit.

I would also consider the potential effect of reaching her academic potential on her self esteem and confidence? This effects EVERYTHING.....

My dd1 is dyslexic and socially quite embedded at school, but the damage of not having her needs met in MS primary has been quite significant. Of course everybody's situation is different, but if I could afford a few years of specialist teaching I would personally choose it in a heartbeat!!!!

NoHaudinMaWheest Sat 06-Jul-13 00:22:06

My Ds is dyslexic though only diagnosed at the end of yr 10. He has other issues (AS and severe OCD) and the dyslexia very much slipped to the bottom of the agenda.
He has struggled and although he should get a reasonable set of GCSEs, I feel he hasn't really reached his potential. He had extra time and a scribe in exams but that was fairly easy to get because of his other difficulties.
We paid for a specialist tutor this year which helped but more thorough and earlier specialist teaching would have made a bigger difference I feel.

My nephew has severe dyslexia. After struggling in ms, his parents were told that the school would not provide any more intervention so they decided that he should go to a specialist dyslexia unit for his last 2 years of primary. This was quite a while ago in NI and such a state provided resource did exist.
Those 2 years made an enormous difference to him. He went to a secondary modern initially (still have 11 plus in NI and he missed out on the chance to sit it). However by 3rd year secondary he was miles ahead of the rest of the class. The grammar school agreed to take him for GCSEs.
He did them and A levels, got a 2.1 degree in history and politics and is now working in the field he is interested in.
My sister feels that those 2 years in the specialist unit were definitely the turning point. Obviously he still has difficulties but has succeeded.

greenfolder Sat 06-Jul-13 10:00:00

I tried this with dd when in year 7-it was an expensive disaster. She felt isolated from her friends, school was too small. We removed her and sent her back to state. She is now on track to get c s in core subjects plus some others.

alimac87 Sat 06-Jul-13 12:18:27

Thanks everyone, very interesting set of responses.

I think the advantage would definitely be that every lesson is focused, not just 2-3 a week. There would be a big difference in her access to the curriculum, if that makes sense. She does see an external tutor at the moment but it's not enough. She has a big gap to make up.

On the other hand the school is indeed very small. I think she would make friends there but it might not be quite the same. Plus the cost (although I'm trying to get a full-time job, to pay for it). We have an end of year session next week with the SENCO so that might help. Current school had a disappointing OFSTED recently which was critical of the way they supported children with special needs. So on the one hand it's not great, on the other I sense they are starting to change. Aargh.

beautifulgirls Sat 06-Jul-13 20:30:44

DD has just moved to a specialist indi school. She has various issues but mainstream school seemed happy to try and cope with her, though sadly did far to little to help her, mostly due to completely failing to recognise her issues. She has been there just over 2 months now and in that short time what a difference - not perhaps so much academically but then very early days, but just in a happy child who is clearly enjoying school and therefore is probably far more likely to learn than at her previous placement. She is only in year 3, but this last school year prior to her move had set her backwards a long way. Of course you have to weigh up the school you have an option to send her to and her as an individual to. For us it was 100% the right choice to move her.

MumuDeLulu Sun 07-Jul-13 03:44:03

Any chance of a split placement?

TOWIELA Sun 07-Jul-13 07:59:43

My grown up NT DD2 was predicted her GCSEs at the end of her last year of primary school - estimated from her SATs. By the time she did her GCSE's six or so years later, these predictions were remarkable accurate. I remember thinking at the time, how could they predict the gradings so early on. But they did and they were correct (as they were for the majority of her primary school classmates)

Have you had a proper dyslexia assessment from an independent EP? If you are thinking of investing money in an indie school, I would first invest some money in a report from a EP who specialises in dyslexia. This report would be able to tell you how severe your DD's dyslexia is, and if only 2 years at a specialist school would be enough. Most independent EPs know the various specialist schools, so they would also be able to tell you if the school you are thinking of is suitable for your DD. They'd also be able to tell you if you need to be budgeting for more than two years.

A year ago, we had no idea how severe DS's dyslexia was. We didn't know if it was his school simply not being able to cope with him, or if his dyslexia was so severe that they couldn't help him. It turned out that he's the most severest dyslexic child two independent EPs have ever assessed. From these assessments, we now know that two years in a specialist dyslexia school would simply not be long enough for him. We also found out that our son's dyslexia was so severe, that one of the EPs recommended that he didn't go to a mainstream school even if that school had the Quality Mark "Dyslexia Friendly" - this was the opinion of the EP who had set up the framework for this Quality Mark!

We are off to Tribunal this week to get our son into an indie dyslexia school.

alimac87 Sun 07-Jul-13 10:26:20


Mumudelulu, no the independent school doesn't do that and I think the state school timetable would make it pretty awkward. I think it would be an interesting solution, but I can't see how to make it work.

Towiela: Yeesh. Best of luck. I don't know what the SATs results were. Her predicted grades from Y7 so far are not encouraging. She has been assessed by an EP and very recently by a speech & language therapist - we get the full results this week. EP suggested a specialist school straightaway. School originally clung to the line that 'she is a low attainer and you'd better get used to that' (!!!!) but as the assessments roll in they've changed their minds somewhat. EP originally described it as 'mild dyslexia' but I would say it's much more than that.

I think part of me is thinking that if we don't try the dyslexia school, we'll never know. I suspect it would give her a far better chance of getting some Cs at GCSE. Current school would be fine if she were just an average kid - but she's not.

TOWIELA Sun 07-Jul-13 10:32:06

she is a low attainer and you'd better get used to that

Some schools/teachers need shooting! I was told by my DS year 3 teacher that he was "academically challenged". What a lovely term! angry

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