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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 5:56 am 
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Hi, I'm hoping someone on here can give me a little advice. Despite the name this is actually my second time going through the process but the first with a child with additional needs.
My daughter has dyslexia, dyscalculia and hypermobility. Due to thsi I requested a number of adjustments. Some of this has been approved, some refused and others have just been ignored and not acknowledged. I have been granted use of her own pencil, a slope and a fidget cushion. I have been refused extra time as "her reading speed is normal and it is not suggested that the school allow extra time". What they have failed to see, which amazes me, is that is it her short term memory and processing skills that need the extra time. The school also did actually state that they allow her extra time and both her Educational Psychologist reports recommend it. The letter states that she will receive an unfair advantage over other children, no mention that she is at an unfair advantage!
They have approved my use of a yellow overlay which I did not request, I asked for yellow paper. An overlay would be very difficult to use on an answer sheet which is where she will need it to assist her with marking the correct answer next to the correct number. They have also not acknowledged my requests for slow instructions, ensuring she has understood each instruction prior to each paper. They have ignored a request for allowances to be made for spelling ( as recommended in her educational psychologist reports ) and also ignored a request for it to be checked by hand (as her handwriting is so poor she may struggle to put the answers in the box correctly.
I am in the process of replying, but unsure what to do next. My educational psychologist reports are from 2014 and 2015. At a cost of £250 a time I'm not sure if it is worth having a new one done. The school assessments are very basic and just say she is 'average' but do point out her poor short term memory and poor handwriting skills. What else can I do? All the reports and school are supportive of my requests but they are saying no..
The local authority is Walsall and it is a CEM test. Please feel free to reply on her or PM me.
Thank you so much for any advice


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 6:00 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 09, 2007 2:09 pm
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Location: Solihull, West Midlands
Hesitating a bit whether to post in case it sounds discouraging, but I wonder whether grammar schools (especially in the W Mids where the KE in particular are very competitive) are the right destination for your daughter given her SEN = although obviously I don't know her, and it could be that she would flourish with a few simple adjustments. Apologies in advance if I have misunderstood

(Context: I work as an LSA in a comprehensive elsewhere in the Midlands, my DC attended a different comp, one went to Camp Hill for 6th form). Many of the children I support have statements with listed various degrees of dyslexia/dyscalculia and short-term memory/processing difficulties which (sometimes severely) limit their ability to learn effectively in the normal classroom, although with appropriate support some of them manage average (or above) levels of achievement, at least in certain subjects. Some of them have extra time allowances in exams(which they usually don't use by the time it gets to GCSE), or scribes/use of laptops for poor handwriting. Some do better in more creative subjects.

Grammar schools I would argue in some ways cater well for children with a different "SEN" - ultra-fast processing skills putting them way ahead of their peers, or a brilliant memory for facts, or a reading age well above the norm, or exceptional mathematical abilities. The SENs they also cater for may include autism or physical/medical disabilities. Even the handwriting issues are not insurmountable.

I guess I am wary of assuming that with additional support any child can achieve brilliant results. But I guess you are hoping for the best outcome for your daughter and it may be worth a try - if she can get in given her difficulties she should flourish


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 6:40 pm 
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I hesitantly agree with solimum - on the face of it, a GS may not be the most appropriate for her particular needs - although we have very little to go on I know. Please do not think I am being unsympathetic, I absolutely am not, but there is only a limited amount of information on here so I am responding to that.

The problem with the CEM test for verbal is that spelling forms a fair old part of it (eg Cloze etc) - they have to work out what the word is from missing letters etc and fill it in corrctly - and giving allowances for spelling would advantage her. I may be wrong but thought that things such as educational psychologist reports usually have to be within 12 months, so maybe yours are just too old to be deemed reliable? Part of the test is also understanding the instructions that are given - it would be very difficult to gauge how much time to give her to understand the instructions, especially as these are on a recorded cd so that they are the same for everyone. With regard to getting her test checked by hand, again, CEM is computer marked in the main and part of the test is being able to mark the boxes correctly - if she is unable to do this, then possibly, as solimum has remarked, a competitve GS setting (and the Birmingham/Walsall GS's are that) may not be the most supportive environment for her needs. Has the current school arranged extra time for her SATs tests and does she has a TA in school that helps her with understanding etc? If her reading speed is normal then perhaps her dyslexia does not appear severe enough to show a significant disadvantage, if you see what I mean (there are huge ranges in dyslexia from mild to severe). Did the reports specifically say that she has poor short term memory and that her processing skills need extra time? Nowadays, any allowances are very strictly controlled and the usual phrase from exam boards is that "it has to be their normal way of working" and I believe that the 11+ is no different.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 8:38 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2014 10:21 am
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Thank you for your replies, and you are saying nothing that I haven't thought myself. We visited a few schools in year 4 and DD wanted to try for the test. Her brother did well in his exam and I can see the level of work that is required at a GS.
DD is very bright. Her teacher thinks more so than DS. Her thirst for learning and ability to remember things she has learnt is amazing. I really dont know where is right for her. When I've asked the initial questions at the schools we visited I was happy with their response and if DD wants it then I have to allow her to have her best shot at it.
The reports all say that her processing skills are slow and that she has a poor short term working memory. What annoys me is that the school do very little and I only had these tests done in the first place so as to get a diagnosis and to find out how best to support her. I was told that these should not be taken regularly so haven't had a more recent test ďone and the school assessments are of very poor quality. The response did not mention the age of the report but then I have no idea what else they need as they were provided with all the evidence they can have.
DD does not have a TA and her dyslexia is mild to moderate. She does have extra time in class and with exams.
So in answer to your question I'm not sure if GS is the best option but with a poor comprehensive then it has to be worth a try especially as she wants to go.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 9:25 pm 
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Location: Solihull, West Midlands
Fair enough -if she wants to try, but is aware that it's a long shot. Wherever she ends up I would suggest she learns fast touch typing: most school exams are still usually largely handwritten and I have pupils whose handwriting is so abysmal that their notes in lessons are hopeless for any kind of revision, but with an ipad they can type up notes, take pictures of the white/black board to refer to later, submit homework directly via email etc. Exams can be taken on laptops with spell check disabled so they can still get the marks for spelling and grammar (otherwise when using a scribe they cannot access quite a high % of marks in some subjects unless they dictate every word letter by letter).

(I had to scribe this year for one pupil with a broken wrist, and after 90 mins plus extra time I was exhausted - she had so much to say! Rather a primitive assessment method really)


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:08 am 
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Location: Essex
solimum wrote:
(I had to scribe this year for one pupil with a broken wrist, and after 90 mins plus extra time I was exhausted - she had so much to say! Rather a primitive assessment method really)


I know that it would be an expense for individual schools, but one can't help wondering whether using dictation software might be a solution in there cases? Obviously, one would still need a human scribe for diagrams etc.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 11:47 am 
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Location: South Bucks
I'm not from your area but I do have some experience to share. My bright son is dyslexic, dyspraxic and hypermobile. For many reasons we didn't do anything at all to prepare him for the 11+ (which was the 'old' Bucks verbal reasoning test) and we didn't appeal when he didn't qualify (he didn't have extra time). Although he was initially very happy to go to the very popular local upper school he soon became quite miserable and frustrated and, long story short, he sat and passed the 12+. We didn't apply for extra time as circumstances meant that doing so would have delayed him sitting the test.

He was much happier in GS and the GS involved provided much better support for my son than the upper school he had spent a year in. I think this is particularly the case with brighter children as in the upper school, even with their learning difficulties, such children are probably doing much better than many of the other children. I remember that in the upper school he was sat with children who literally didn't know A from Z (& they weren't EAL). And to help you quantify the degree of his difficulties (low processing speed etc) he qualifies for max extra time under the new, more stringent criteria for public exams. I also have close knowledge of a number of children with similar difficulties who have been very well supported at their various grammar schools (including at some uber competitive ones).

The point in my posting is to counter the assumptions made about SEN children and grammar schools. Yes, the pressure will be on at a GS, as it will be on all pupils. And yes, your daughter will have to work harder than children who don't share her difficulties. But that is where you know her best. Some very able children don't do well at GS because they frankly can't really be bothered. It is about the right environment for her.

You local upper/comprehensive school might be very good but if she does go there be prepared to fight for support and for them to academically challenge your daughter appropriately.

Also, learning to type would be a great idea (it's a great idea for any pupil) as chances are that if she perseveres she will be able to type at a more than adequate speed. And wow, only £250 for Ed Psych report (they are about £400 around here!), when I looked into extra time at 11+ they didn't pay much attention to such reports and gave more weight to what the current school does. I have often heard the accusation that "Ed Psychs only say what the parents paying for them want them to say" (quite an appalling accusation to level at professionally accredited Educational Psychologists). When it comes time for public exams the SENCO will conduct standard tests to she qualifies.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 1:56 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 09, 2007 2:09 pm
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Location: Solihull, West Midlands
ToadMum wrote:
solimum wrote:
(I had to scribe this year for one pupil with a broken wrist, and after 90 mins plus extra time I was exhausted - she had so much to say! Rather a primitive assessment method really)


I know that it would be an expense for individual schools, but one can't help wondering whether using dictation software might be a solution in there cases? Obviously, one would still need a human scribe for diagrams etc.


Yes it is an option with some exam boards. The problem would be getting a child used to using it in time for the exams - in this case with an injury only a week or so before the first exam. I would imagine a child with a permanent condition preventing writing would have to have such adaptations routinely and so would be comfortable with the quirks of particular software. Even dictating to another person requires a change of technique when writing extended essay responses - and dictation of maths / music notation / diagrams etc also requires a certain creativity! (as a scribe you have to be ultra cautious but also try and understand exactly what is meant as quickly as possible)


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:32 pm 
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Thank you drummer, that has really helped me. The ed psych who does the reports tries to keep the fee to a minimum as she feels that the most important factor is getting the child assessed. As school dont do a detailed assessment ( DD is 'average' so despite her potential she passes their test) how are we ever meany to receive an assessment without paying . School do use extra time so I shall wait and see what they say. I have already emailed asking them to actually read the reports as they seem to have completely missed what the senco has said.
We shall see what happens but i know we are doing the right thing by applying and we shall see what happens in september. Thanks again


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 10:40 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2016 9:44 pm
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It is worth keeping good records in case you need to draw on it in an appeal. I can see that there is an argument that the slower processing speed is potentially an issue, however considering the number of children from private schools who scrape into grammar schools after years of extra tutoring she won't be the only one not performing at genius levels in grammar school.


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