Dyslexia and school

Find out how you can work with school to help your child and about exam access arrangements here.

Find out how you can help your child if you are concerned they may be dyslexic here.

Find out how you can support your child at home here.

School is your first point of contact for information, help and support for your child. Ideally, you should see yourself and school as part of the ‘team’ supporting your child.

1. Always try to make an appointment to see a teacher, rather than having a conversation at either end of the day when the teacher might have other things to focus on. This also gives the teacher time to prepare.

2. Be prepared! Note down what is happening with your child at home, what their specific difficulties are and what they are saying about school. It might be useful to keep a diary so that you have examples. Note down the questions you have and the issues you want to be resolved.

3. Consider whether it would be helpful and appropriate for your child to be part of your discussions with school.

4. Keep the relationship professional. Emphasise that you want to work as a team and be patient and understanding that the teacher has other children in the class with their own needs. That said, teachers find it enormously helpful to meet the parents of their students. You might ask questions like:

  • How long is homework supposed to take?
  • How long should we spend learning spellings?
  • How does your child compare to others in the classroom on reading, writing etc?
  • What progress is your child making?
  • What can you do at home to help your child? Ask for specific activities you can do.
  • Ask for information about new topics so that you can help your child prepare.

5. Take notes of what was said and date these. If you can, see the teacher with a second person; they can help you to remember everything.

6. Arrange a follow-up meeting to discuss the outcomes of actions you have agreed between you, perhaps at the end of the half term or about six weeks later. Or arrange to have a notebook of comments and questions to pass between you.

7. Try to keep any arrangement low-key so that your child does not feel singled out. Avoid criticising school in front of your child.

8. If you think your child is being bullied, seek urgent help from school.

9. Persevere!

Why not join our Parents’ HELP Course where we have a session that deals with working with school?

Should my child use a laptop?

Use of a laptop can help your child access the curriculum, it can re-motivate learners and boost self-esteem. Using a laptop supports planning, writing and editing, and printed work is often easier to read. There is also a large range of software which can provide greater independence for your child.

However, for technology to be effective, good keyboard awareness and efficient typing skills are essential. You may like to consider enrolling your child on our next Touch Typing Course.

If your child wishes to use a laptop for exams it is worth noting that a laptop cannot simply be granted to a candidate because they prefer to type rather than write or can work faster on a keyboard, or because they use one at home. The use of a laptop must reflect the candidate’s normal way of working at school and be appropriate to the candidate’s needs. This should be discussed with your child’s school.

What are exam access arrangements?

Dyslexia is a recognised disability under the Equality Act (2010) which requires organisations to ensure that people with disabilities are not treated unfavourably and are offered reasonable adjustments.
Formal tests and examinations can present challenges to candidates with dyslexia and other learning difficulties. They may be prevented from achieving their potential because of difficulties in:

  • speed of processing
  • organising information
  • sequencing
  • short-term and working memory
  • reading accuracy
  • automaticity and fluency in writing
  • reading on screen or tracking from one piece of paper to another
  • producing legible handwriting.

Some learners may require access arrangements to level the playing field with their fellow candidates. There may be specific recommendations for particular formats of exam, such as multiple choice and case study exams.

How do I know what access arrangements my child needs?

Assessors investigate the need and eligibility for access arrangements in examinations based on evidence of need and normal ways of working. Test scores are considered alongside the learner’s history of performance in examinations, current ways of working, and the requirements of the subjects being taken.
Exam access arrangements can include:

  • Extra time (25 per cent is usual)
  • A reader/computer reader
  • A scribe
  • Using a laptop instead of handwriting
  • Exam papers on a coloured paper
  • Hard copy rather than on-screen
  • Supervised rest breaks.

There other arrangements may be available.

It is important to know that a diagnosis of dyslexia or other learning difficulty is not required for Access Arrangements to be put into place. There is also no guarantee of evidence for Access Arrangements being found in a dyslexia assessment.

While a Helen Arkell dyslexia assessment can provide evidence of need for Access Arrangements, your child’s school must agree to use the report as evidence before the assessment takes place. Ultimately, it is the school’s responsibility to determine and apply for any specific arrangements.

Further information regarding Access Arrangements for Key Stage 2 SATs can be found at Tests and Assessments Key Stage 2.

For more information about Access Arrangement at GCSE and A levels, visit the JCQ website.

Could specialist tuition help my child?

Sometimes children need an extra boost to help them with learning. This may help a child to discover more about the way they learn and strategies that can be put in place to support their difficulties.

Our specialist teachers understand that each pupil is different. Using your child’s strengths and their approach to learning, the teacher will create an individual, multi-sensory learning programme to support your child’s areas of need.

Specialist tuition can be for a short period of time or for longer should your child need it.

What qualifications should a teacher/tutor have that are useful when supporting a child with dyslexia?

We recommend that tutors have a specialist qualification such as the OCR Level 5 or Level 7 Diploma in Teaching Learners with Specific Learning Difficulties.

We employ a team of specialist teachers who have trained in teaching both children and adults with Specific Learning Difficulties.

Specialist tuition for children can be arranged through the charity to take place at school, college or at one of our venues.

An individualised approach is adopted for all tuition and is not restricted to any particular method.

When should I consider a specialist dyslexia school?

For many children, mainstream schooling will meet their needs. However, for those with more complex needs a mainstream placement may not be right, or not right just yet.

Ideally in discussion with your current school, consider whether your child is learning in an environment where their needs are fully supported.

The Council for the Registration of Schools Teaching Dyslexic Pupils (CReSTeD) maintains a register of schools and learning centres which meet their criteria for the teaching of pupils with specific learning difficulties.

If you decide that your child may benefit from a specialist school, the following links can help you choose.

To hear our latest news and dates of our new courses to support parents and children sign up to our e-newsletter.

Find out how you can help your child if you are concerned they may be dyslexic here.

Find out how you can support your child at home here.