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Does this seem wrong to you? Writing.

(22 Posts)
icecreamvan Mon 07-Nov-16 11:43:08

DS is in Year 5. He has cerebral palsy that affects the left side of his body, but also attention, behaviour difficulties and other stuff. He's always struggled with his writing.

DS loves to read and is good at literacy. His teacher said today in a meeting that he could be working to 'greater depth' level for his literacy SATS. Which means above average, I think. However he won't be able to reach the level that he really is in his test scores because he can't write joined up. All he can manage is print and a bit of joining.

DS struggles at most things. There are jobs that he wants to do when he is older that he won't be able to do because of is disability. It just feels so wrong that he is good at something but cannot be recognised for it because his hands/brain won't let him do perfect joined up writing.

Am I crazy? Is it worth trying to take this further. Take it up with the Dfe or Justine Greening for example? There must be other kids who are academically able but struggle to write joined up ...

Reading this back, I think I must be mad and maybe should just accept it. It just feels so wrong though.

HallowedMimic Mon 07-Nov-16 11:46:48

None of my children use joined up writing.

At GCSE and beyond it doesn't matter at all.

In fact children can use word processors for exams if that can be demonstrated to be their normal way of working.

My eldest has dysgraphia and will be doing just that.

The others just use non joined up.

zzzzz Mon 07-Nov-16 11:48:11

Well he can be brilliant at English but not brilliant at handwriting. Why couldn't he?

If he's struggling to get it all down he can have a scribe, type, more time. What do school mean he can't reach the level?

icecreamvan Mon 07-Nov-16 12:24:05

OK. The new curriculum and SATs - its all changed in the last 2 years - say that you can't reach the above average levels or marks if you don't write in legible cursive writing. So in old levels - I think 4 was average - well he wouldn't have been able to get above a 4 if he couldn't write it all down in legible cursive.

DS's writing is (just about) legible. He writes in mostly print. He has to. Joined up is illegible for him. His left hand is severely affected by the CP and his right hand mildly , but still affected. He just can't write very well, in the same way that he can't cut up food, play with lego or do any two handed fine motor activities.

But his literacy brain is good. Just for once it would be nice, for him, to be recognised as good at something. It would be good for his confidence.

And also when he goes to secondary school hopefully he'd be put in the proper set. Because if he gets lower marks for the SATS because of his writing, the expectations at secondary will be lower for him, won't they?

icecreamvan Mon 07-Nov-16 12:25:10

With a scribe DS can also only be seen as 'meeting expectations' rather than anything above that.

ALemonyPea Mon 07-Nov-16 12:26:54

My y6 DS, who has autism and dyspraxia, sat SATS last year and his handwriting is that of a reception child. He had a scribe for the rest of the tests.

If it's the slowness of his writing, then you can request, during lessons that he has a scribe or use of a laptop. My son has both as and when needed.

zzzzz Mon 07-Nov-16 12:33:47

iPad/phones have excellent voice recognition as standard as I'm sure do other tech options. Can he get over 4 with that ?

icecreamvan Mon 07-Nov-16 12:40:20

No. Not with any aid can he get over a 4.

I know I might be being pedantic. Its just that DS is not 'good' at many things. I think he's good at lots of things - but compared to his able bodied peers he can't keep up.

When there is finally one thing that he is just as good at I think he should be allowed to be successful. In real life some of us write in print. Others write in cursive. Most of us don't write much at all.

If he can write clearly (in print) and put down his very good thoughts and ideas on paper - surely, considering that he has a disability that affects his hands and fine motor skills, the fact that its not joined up should be accomodated for. What happened to reasonable adjustments?

I mean this for all kids that are in DS's situation. I imagine there must be quite a few ...

HallowedMimic Mon 07-Nov-16 12:57:22

But it's only an issue at primary school, and even then only if you attach any importance to levels and SATS.

Even the grammar schools here make adjustments for those with handwriting issues.

You can have the handwriting of a five year old and still get a place if you are clever enough to pass.

And at every secondary, the same will be true. Handwriting issues won't affect his ability to pass exams, or be placed in the appropriate sets.

icecreamvan Mon 07-Nov-16 13:36:53

But if the handwriting has brought down his levels in the SATs - don't they then put them into sets according to how well they've done in their SATs?

Sorry I know I'm banging on about this and in the grand scheme of things it is not so so important!

That's interesting about the grammar school thing. I'd completely discounted him even trying for grammar school because of his handwriting.

HallowedMimic Mon 07-Nov-16 13:51:07

Most secondary schools retest and it soon becomes apparent if a child needs to be moved up or down.

Schools used to use SATS to predict expected performance in GCSEs (not sure if they still do) but it's really an admin/league table thing. It doesn't affect the individual child so much.

Definitely consider a grammar if you have them as an option. Ours are very, very good about access arrangements both for the entrance exam and in lessons and public exams.

icecreamvan Mon 07-Nov-16 14:32:18

Do you have a child with SN at grammar HM?

I've always wondered how good the school would be with making adjustments for those children. Also whether the children would feel the odd one out as I don't imagine there are many kids with SN at grammar.

More so really though, I've looked at the exam papers for our local grammar and the maths and/or non verbal reason looks frightening and hideous to me. Its too complicated for my mind and my son would never get his head round it without tutoring.

I think he might be like a fish out of water in a grammar school ...

SerendipityPhenomenon Mon 07-Nov-16 18:18:37

It could be worth contacting the Equality and Human Rights Commission about this, as it's something that needs to be taken up at ministerial level and they may have the clout to do it. From what I have heard the position of children with learning difficulties and disabilities has been left badly out of account when drawing up the new tests and standards, and it is quite wrong that they should go through school being marked as not meeting expectations purely because those expectations aren't properly adjusted for them.

tartanterror Mon 07-Nov-16 22:39:22

icecream - I understand completely what you are saying! It's very frustrating how much significance handwriting has in the NC now. I came on to the board to ask whether people had any experience of Alphasmart Neo because after 2 years of working on handwriting, I think it's time to try something different...... I wasn't aware this might affect exam scores.

Is it just SATs? It's an odd situation if assistance in the test reduces the possible score because then assistance is not a reasonable adjustment is it? Where did you hear about the level 4 thing?

The SATs scores also don't actually affect our kids, but presumably you are more worried about self esteem?

icecreamvan Mon 07-Nov-16 22:45:53

Thank you Serendipity. This is just what I am cross about.

Actually I'm not much bothered about levels etc. But my son spends his whole life being marked down and excluded. I'm not happy that its happening again now - in school - where I've felt always before that he was/is included.

The world seems to have great trouble with inclusion and disability. I did, previously, have hope that things in the adult world might eventually change as it all seemed to be more progressive in schools - which is a starting point. But this new curriculum has tipped things backwards, it seems to me.

I will contact the E and H Rights Commision - definitely.

tartanterror Mon 07-Nov-16 22:48:13

On grammars, you need to see what your local schools are like. They are all very different. The good schools guide has a section on SEN which is handy to see what they say - some often mention Autism specifically. There is a superselective grammar near us. There aren't many kids with EHCP (although there are some) but they get a lot of Asperger-like kids with and without diagnoses. I met someone with an AS son who went there and it really suited him being in a geeky peer group. He had a statement in primary (he hit other kids) with one-ton-one support all the way through until he was 11 so his parents weren't at all sure he would manage the exam or the school. In the end he goes with minimal support (other than an informed/watchful SENCO). It's quite a liberal school though and they have almost no homework, so it's probably not a typical grammar environment. Their test is quite maths/NVR/vocab based and avoids handwriting so it's very Aspie-friendly.

icecreamvan Mon 07-Nov-16 22:53:29

tartan - I am using level 4 as an example, because I can't remember what they call the levels now.

I had a meeting today at school with the Senco, Head of Literacy and teacher. It was about my son's statement review.

They told me very clearly that he was doing very well in literacy but would not be able to be awarded the higher level (so above average which used to be level 4) if he had assistance or did not use cursive writing. School agreed completely that it was not a reasonable adjustment.

I've called the DfE today and they've confirmed all of this, but don't seem at all concerned that they are being discriminatory.

I am worried about my son's self esteem - yes. But also about the wider implications of this and that the government seems oblivious and/or unconcerned about the less able children that this is going to affect.

Actually I think that applies to kids without disabilities too. We can't all have perfect handwriting. We're all good at different things. Surely marks should be given for the things we're good at, rather than taken away for the things we're finding difficult ...

icecreamvan Mon 07-Nov-16 22:58:58

It sounds a similar grammar to the one near us. I wonder if its the same.

My son has cerebral palsy - not Autism. He's not so strong with maths. So I'm still not sure. He'd have to be tutored and we have lots of extra stuff - like physio and sports after school already, to keep him mobile. Can't face the thought of putting in loads of tutoring work and then him not getting in.

At our grammar 1 in 10 get a place and I think it could be 1 in 15 now. We're in London and loads of boroughs are in the catchment.

SexDrugsAndSausageRoll Tue 08-Nov-16 11:24:49

Sorry as a teacher I'm very confused by this

Where pupils have a physical disability or sensory impairment that prevents them from demonstrating attainment in the way described in a statement, their equivalent method
of communication or learning is applicable (e.g. visual phonics for a pupil with a hearing impairment). Where pupils have a physical disability or sensory impairment that prevents them from accessing a statement altogether, these statements can be excluded from the teacher assessment (e.g. for handwriting if the pupil is physically unable to write). Teachers should use their professional discretion in making such judgements for each statement and each individual pupil. A standard can only be awarded where a pupil has met every statement which they are able to access."

Page 3

icecreamvan Tue 08-Nov-16 12:36:10

What on earth is that all supposed to mean?

SexDrugsAndSausageRoll Tue 08-Nov-16 12:39:43

It means what it says...

If a child has a disability preventing them being assessed in an area, such has handwriting, then they are not to be assessed as not meeting a standard if that is their only difficulty.

So I don't know why you have been told handwriting alone is a bar to a higher level if your son is operating there otherwise

tartanterror Tue 08-Nov-16 23:07:46

I'll pm you ice cream

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