The end of dyslexia?

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Sue Blackburn
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Re: The end of dyslexia?

Post by Sue Blackburn » Thu Aug 28, 2014 10:08 am

Last night’s BBC1 Panorama – Last Chance Academy – was about a school in Birmingham that, instead of excluding problem children, teaches them in a separate specialist unit in the school grounds and promises all the students that they will achieve 5 GCSE passes.

One pupil who featured a lot in the programme was very disruptive and the teachers and the very caring Head were at a loss to know how to engage her. It came to the time to sit the GCSE exams and the girl – Chelsea – was removed from the hall because she was not working and was distracting others in the hall.

She very nearly walked away, which would have meant she would not be able to sit any further exams. Then the truth came out – she could not read the paper well enough to tackle the questions. They have since had her reading ability tested and she was allocated a reader for the remainder of her exams.

It had just not occurred to the school that this could be the problem – the Head was clearly shocked and the school will now be much more aware that this could be the underlying reason for why a pupil is being disruptive.

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maizie
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Re: The end of dyslexia?

Post by maizie » Thu Aug 28, 2014 12:19 pm

Sue Blackburn wrote:She very nearly walked away, which would have meant she would not be able to sit any further exams. Then the truth came out – she could not read the paper well enough to tackle the questions. They have since had her reading ability tested and she was allocated a reader for the remainder of her exams.

It had just not occurred to the school that this could be the problem – the Head was clearly shocked and the school will now be much more aware that this could be the underlying reason for why a pupil is being disruptive.
I am shocked that a child could get to Y11 without anyone even considering that they might not be able to read. Especially if their behaviour is very poor.

Was this a leafy suburb school with an intake of above average achievers or was it just a very poor school?

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Re: The end of dyslexia?

Post by Susan Godsland » Thu Aug 28, 2014 1:40 pm

The Centre for Social Justice found there are significant literacy and numeracy problems in 50-75% of children who are permanently excluded from school. Many children were found to “display challenging behaviour to hide the fact they cannot read''
see p1. http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/fi ... honics.pdf
DfE Evidence paper: The Importance of Phonics: Securing Confident Reading

Sue Blackburn
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Re: The end of dyslexia?

Post by Sue Blackburn » Thu Aug 28, 2014 1:50 pm

Well it was certainly not the former. I don't like to say it was a bad school - the staff were incredibly caring and supportive, even in the most difficult circumstances, but I really felt angry that this pupil's lack of reading ability could have gone so long undetected.

How many more young people's life chances are blighted because they slip through the net?

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maizie
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Re: The end of dyslexia?

Post by maizie » Thu Aug 28, 2014 2:13 pm

Sue Blackburn wrote: I don't like to say it was a bad school
I regret to say that I do!

Perhaps it is indicative of the fact that reading is kept to the barest minimum in many subjects AND that many secondary teachers take it for granted that some children can't read very well and don't think that anything can be done about it.

I'm trying to think of reasons why all the Y7s in this school weren't tested for reading on entry.. I can only surmise that they may have gone on KS2 English results and assumed that the child, who perhaps had a L4 in English, could actually read.

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Re: The end of dyslexia?

Post by JIM CURRAN » Thu Aug 28, 2014 4:48 pm

Maize said :
"I'm trying to think of reasons why all the Y7s in this school weren't tested for reading on entry.. I can only surmise that they may have gone on KS2 English results and assumed that the child, who perhaps had a L4 in English, could actually read."

Many secondary school principals in Northern Ireland are reluctant to take the Sat scores at face value and most do their own tests.

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Re: The end of dyslexia?

Post by maizie » Thu Aug 28, 2014 6:55 pm

I thought that is what happened in English schools, too, Jim. We certainly tested all Y7s on entry.

I think there's something odd about this programme...things may not be what they seem...

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Re: The end of dyslexia?

Post by kenm » Fri Aug 29, 2014 8:01 am

maizie wrote:I'm trying to think of reasons why all the Y7s in this school weren't tested for reading on entry.. I can only surmise that they may have gone on KS2 English results and assumed that the child, who perhaps had a L4 in English, could actually read.
If they had known what the problem was, how many of them would have known what to do about it? After their main subject degree, most of them would have done a PGCE with very lttle instruction in the teaching of reading.

To judge from some of the technical literature I read, there are many technical journalists, experts in their specialist discipline, with gaps in their knowledge of grammar and spelling, and some in the broadsheets too. Copy editor seems to be an endangered profession.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

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Re: The end of dyslexia?

Post by chew8 » Fri Aug 29, 2014 9:10 am

maizie wrote:I'm trying to think of reasons why all the Y7s in this school weren't tested for reading on entry.. I can only surmise that they may have gone on KS2 English results and assumed that the child, who perhaps had a L4 in English, could actually read.
At about 52:35, Chelsea says that her 'other school didn't pick up on it'. This suggests that she had not been at Baverstock all along, so the question of why Baverstock didn't assess her in Y7 may be irrelevant.

Jenny C.

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maizie
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Re: The end of dyslexia?

Post by maizie » Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:00 am

I didn't see the programme, Jenny, so didn't know that bit. However, we routinely tested all new entrants to the school, whatever their year group. It's common sense really. Information from previous school always turns up far later than the child does, if at all. From what I am reading on this thread I suspect that the move from another school was possibly because of her behavioural problems. All the more reason for thorough assessment when starting at a new school.
kenm wrote:If they had known what the problem was, how many of them would have known what to do about it
Most schools have some sort of SEN support provision which, as poor reading is a major 'cause' of children being labelled as SEN, should have had some expertise in helping children with poor reading skills.

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Re: The end of dyslexia?

Post by chew8 » Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:24 am

You can still watch the programme:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0 ... ce-academy

I know your school used to test the reading of incoming Year 7s, maizie - I've just referred to it on another thread. Has this carried on since you left? If so, could you find out the results?

Jenny C.

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Re: The end of dyslexia?

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Fri Aug 29, 2014 3:29 pm

I've just watched the BBC Panorama 'Last Chance Academy' (Baverstock Academy) which is a thoroughly heartwarming documentary - so I've flagged it up on my message forum and also flagged this up via Twitter:

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/for ... .php?t=712

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Re: The end of dyslexia?

Post by maizie » Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:58 pm

Debbie Hepplewhite wrote:I've just watched the BBC Panorama 'Last Chance Academy' (Baverstock Academy) which is a thoroughly heartwarming documentary
I don't find anything heartwarming about a child whose inability to read is not picked up until Y11.

Or has this not been reported accurately?

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Re: The end of dyslexia?

Post by chew8 » Sat Aug 30, 2014 9:17 am

maizie wrote:I don't find anything heartwarming about a child whose inability to read is not picked up until Y11.
I agree in principle, but I think this issue has arisen in connection with the girl Chelsea, who features prominently in the Panorama programme. I've watched the first part of the programme yet again, and at about 12:0 minutes she says that she didn't start out at Baverstock - she went there only after being chucked out of another school, and it seems that this may have been only in Year 11, so any blame for not diagnosing her problems before Y11 probably can't lie with Baverstock. One thing I can't understand, though, is why, if she was doing GCSEs, the Baverstock people hadn't noticed problems in her written work before the reading problem emerged in the exam. hall. Had she just not done any written work, or had someone else been doing it for her?

Another student, George, may be more relevant. I'm not absolutely sure that he was at Baverstock all along, but I haven't noticed anything suggesting otherwise. We're told that he was diagnosed as 'dyslexic' when he was 9, so that would have been well before he started secondary school. What we see in the programme suggests that his reading improves a lot in just a few weeks in the LEAP unit - we don't know what sort of instruction he's had, but if he has been at Baverstock all along, it seems odd that he hasn't had it before now.

Jenny C.

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Re: The end of dyslexia?

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Sat Aug 30, 2014 4:21 pm

"Heartwarming" in the sense of people who really want to go the final mile with their pupils.

Worrying in the sense that expectations or programmes and training might not be what we would like to see in action:

http://www.baverstock.bham.sch.uk/index.phtml?d=215496

If teachers are having to focus on content for GCSE's with pupils attending fewer hours per day/week (as we see on the video) - how then do teachers focus on basic skills with such little time - or seemingly no time - to spare?

This is always the dilemma as pupils get older and the pressure is on for higher-order content and an exam timetable.

I've had exactly this kind of pressure in Key Stage 2 and had to fight vociferously for time on the timetable to provide a 'basic skills' slot - when pressure was on for content and rehearsal for the end of Year 6 national tests.

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