THE CoolerRuler:

Boost Your Learning Power

Another arrogant school is failing another dyslexic pupil

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I spent an hour yesterday with the mother of a pupil whom I teach privately and she is apoplectic with rage following a meeting with the head of her son’s school. As a Special Needs Teacher, I have been here before, but it still bothers me.

When I met Sam (name changed to protect the innocent), he walked with shoulders hunched, head down, looking at the ground, a picture of misery. His educational experience at that point had consisted of failure - in fact the failure was that of his teachers at Potburger School (name changed to protect the guilty!) - but he had been assured by these so-called professionals that the fault was entirely with him. They were assiduously avoiding recognising his dyslexia and apparently lying about his achievements when it came to tests. How else could his SAT reading score of 2C have been achieved when he was unable to read even the simplest words?

I have worked with Sam for eighteen months and his progress has been remarkable. This is entirely down to his hard work and the fact that he is so keen to learn now that the teaching is directed towards his preferred learning style, but the most noticeable change has been in his demeanour. This bright, bubbly child now walks tall and his confidence shines through. His mother tells me how desperately worried she was at the changes she had seen in him after he had been at school for a couple of years and now says that she has ‘got her son back’.

She and I know that this improvement has nothing to do with Potburger School.

So why is she so angry? After years of virtually ignoring Sam, the school is now giving him some one to one tuition - and is insisting that my lessons with him follow their programme of study. This despite the fact that Sam’s ‘specialist’ lessons are delivered by a teacher who has absolutely no training in any of the specific learning difficulties. This was admitted by the Head Teacher when Sam’s mother asked the question. She stated that ‘she is a qualified teacher but doesn’t have any extra dyslexia qualifications.’ They just can’t see that simply giving him more of what has already failed him is bound to fail him again.

We had a coffee together and laughed at the school and she gradually calmed down. Although I am a great believer in parents, specialist teachers and schools working as closely together as possible to support a child, in this case I won’t be following their lead. The crumpled sheet of A4 with a few spidery notes of spelling patterns written in red biro isn’t sufficient to make me alter the targets that Sam and I have already agreed for this term.

After all, Sam is doing really well and that’s enough for him, his mother and for me.

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