If, what they are providing, is supposed to be a huge improvement on the interventions that children are receiving in state schools, then it just goes to show the absolutely dire state of remedial provision for struggling readers around the country.
TES Magazine. 2nd May:
Severe dyslexia does not have to be a byword for failure. A school using martial arts and a novel approach to reading and writing is seeing remarkable results.
It may look like an old-fashioned boarding school, but Maple Hayes is a day school and the 95 pupils are all severely dyslexic. It is one of only 10 independent schools for specific learning difficulties in England, and the only one in the Midlands.
"This," says Daryl Brown, head of the school, "is the last chance saloon." Maple Hayes takes "the really hard cases": pupils for whom all other approaches have failed.
To get their sons and daughters into Maple Hayes, two-thirds of the parents have had to fight, usually via special needs tribunals, to have the £12,000 - £15,000 fees paid by a local education authority.....
The children who come here may have reading and writing problems, but they are intelligent.
"We take pupils showing a significant difference between their performance level and what their IQ indicates they ought to be able to do," says Daryl. The emphasis is on essay subjects, such as English and history, and on giving full sentence answers in others. And pupils do not choose options at the end of Year 9. That might encourage them to drop subjects in which they're perfectly capable of getting a good GCSE grade later.
The result, as admiring inspectors have pointed out, is that children who join the school at a level where they would be expected to leave with no qualifications gain a clutch of good GCSEs. All sit at least five and many take 10 or 11. And the fact that 60 per cent achieve five good grades compares well with the results of a normal secondary school.
At the heart of this are techniques for helping pupils to read and write that are unique. They do not use phonics or a multi-sensory approach. "These children have experienced years of failure trying that," says Daryl, "and there's no point in trying again." The Maple Hayes technique sorts words into morphemes (units of meaning). These are either spelt conventionally by a combination of letters, or represented by simple images called icons. A word containing "vis", for instance, will have something to do with seeing, so a vital chunk of the word can be represented by an image that looks like eyes.
Sense of achievement
The approach uses only one sense at a time, to block out distractions.
Reading is visual rather than aural (early lessons are almost silent), while writing practice is by touch, using cursive script where the pen stays on the paper. To help pupils concentrate, they will be blindfolded at first.
These techniques were devised by Daryl's father, Neville, a former English teacher who set up the school 25 years ago and is its principal.
While acting as head of department in his secondary school, he became fascinated by the problems some pupils had with language. He developed methods they used to help themselves into teaching techniques that he tried out and used as the basis for a doctorate in psychology. They have been used at Maple Hayes ever since.