Secret Teacher: we’re setting dyslexic children up to feel like failures

Mar 24, 2018 by

Pupils with dyslexia are at a disadvantage in tests, and we don’t have the resources to give them the help they need

It is Monday morning and our year 3 literacy lesson is under way. The child I’m funded to work with is using an iPad while they have a break, watching a show aimed at helping children with additional needs develop communication skills. I walk around the classroom supporting others. We’re looking at using adjectives in Roman myths. Jenny asks how to spell “tiny”; Kearon needs the spelling for “flaming” at the same moment Behnam wants “sanctimonious”.

John is struggling more than the others. Even if I write the word for him he rarely copies it correctly and his letters are back to front, upside down, and sometimes more a squiggle than anything else. Out of the corner of my eye I see him drawing a cartoon on the side of his page. I ask him to start writing. He strings a few words together, and then goes back to drawing. I don’t have any more time to support him because my 1:1 is ready to begin work.

I have some first-hand experience of the struggles my class are facing. I was never diagnosed with dyslexia – there were no assessments for it when I was at school – but I feel I have some of the characteristics. The noise of the classroom interferes with my ability to hear sounds in words. I regularly need to use a spell checker, and feel lucky that the schools in which I have worked have been happy for me to do so.

But I believe the current system is failing dyslexic pupils. Research suggests dyslexic children are more likely to suffer low self-esteem, poor motivation and concentration. Our local council’s dyslexia guidance stresses the importance of early recognition and intervention, and there are a number of ways teaching can be adapted to help meet students’ needs – simplifying written instructions, presenting only a small amount of writing to them, or using audio devices. Yet shortage of time, staff and technical equipment means it’s very hard to give such targeted assistance.

I’ve seen huge delays in assessments to determine what support a child might need – right across special educational needs (SEN) in the schools I work with. This is particularly the case for specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia that may not be deemed severe or urgent.

Source: Secret Teacher: we’re setting dyslexic children up to feel like failures | Teacher Network | The Guardian

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