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PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 5:03 pm 
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Hello,
Does anyone know anything about Moon Hall in Dorking. My sister is desperately trying to find a school for her dyslexic DC as the state schools are failing. Are there any other dyslexic specialist schools in the south-east? Do dyslexic specialist schools work?
Many thanks.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:32 pm 
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I don't know if they "work". Trouble is that some charge a lot extra on top of the fees for additional learning support. How bad is the "dyslexia"? Has she tried a specialist tutor who will work properly through whatever is needed - e.g. contact PATOSS for list of tutors in her area. What exactly is the problem - dyslexia is one of those loose terms which in itself is too woolly to know what needs to be done to improve reading and/or writing and / or spelling etc for that particular individual.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:29 pm 
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I know they are expensive, more so than an ordinary indie school. The problem seems to be a complete lack of recognition or rememberance of any words, so it is difficult to move on to new texts, and progress so much so that her DC has fallen so far behind, it is scary. She has tried a specialist tutor, who thought up allsorts of games and methods, but I think DC has either just lost interest, finds it too hard or has built up a defence wall against trying. So it started with reading, but writing anything is also slow and laborious. Maths seems slightly better, but still bad. Behaviour, as a knock on, is getting difficult. On the up side, sport seems to work. It is such a nightmare, as everyone else's children seem to be gifted and talented, so it becomes the elephant in the room, we never mention education, achievement or anything to do with school. The whole thing seems to have taken over all our lives. Obviously, the big concern is what will DC do when they leave school, if they can't read properly. It seems fundamental.
Thank you for replying.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 8:18 pm 
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"complete lack of recognition or rememberance of any words"

So just what can she read or not read and how old is she? Does she have a memory problem? Have they ever had a private Educational Psychologist do a full assessment to see just what the "dyslexia" is? Is she statemented?

What reading programme has the parent been given by school to work through with her at home?

Has she been taught how to read using a very thorough synthetic phonics programme? Does she know the 44 basic phonic sounds in English and the different ways of representing them in writing ( e.g. that the /f/ sound can also be spelt ph, that the /ur/ sound can also be written as er, ir etc etc). Can she decode simple consonant- vowel- consonant nonsense words such as pid, han, mun etc?

Specialist tutors have different approaches. It doesn't sound as though this one did the trick for her. It would seem that a lot of so called dyslexics can improve their reading significantly with a very thorough phonics programme - but there are good ones and bad ones. There are schools and tutors that will tell you they have done this when in fact they haven't, or they have but not with the degree of "overlearning" that the "dyslexic" may need. There are some people who perhaps cannot learn to read using synthetic phonics programmes, no matter how good and well developed but they are few and far between and maybe have very poor working memory or some other specific problem that a good Ed Psych should be able to identify and suggest some ways round.

It would be better if she learned to read now rather than waiting for an independent secondary school.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 9:03 pm 
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Try looking at the Crested list of schools for children with dyslexia


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:41 am 
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If you look at the Crested website you will see different categories of schools according to the level of dyslexic support they offer. You have to look at several different parts of the website to see what category Moon Hall falls into and what the categories mean in terms of teaching qualifications etc.

I'm still finding out about all this myself for different reasons. At the moment I remain on the fence as I am not sure that the answer for any one child would be to put them in a schools with loads of other dyslexics and a bundle of staff with AMBDA status (associate membership of the British Dyslexia Association).

One of the requirements for a school such as Moon Hall is to provide either a full Ed Psych assessment on entry, or a teacher with assessment qualifications. Then the child enters into a school full of "dyslexics" which is a very broad term and encompasses such a wide variety of literacy and potentially also mathematical difficulties. It could potentially have pupils with extremely high IQs who have never been taught to read and write properly in a way that clicked for them through to children with very low IQs and processing problems of a complex kind.

If it were my own child I would still be inclined to get my own Ed Psych report, and fish around for a tutor who fits the needs of my child (by investigating the PATOSS listing in great detail). I suppose the problem could be that the really good and suitable tutors are all working at the Crested schools and that this then takes you back to the CRESTEd school idea. But it could be that a good Ed Psych and a small number of sessions in the holidays with a private tutor will give you some clues as to what really needs to be done to help this child forward.

State secondaries are usually very different from primaries. If you were to pay yourself for a lot of the diagnosis and the solutions yourself then I am sure that a good SEN co-ordinator at the secondary school would ensure that these things were able to take place in lessons (e.g. if it is larger print or yellow backgrounds or such-like). But if the child arrives at secondary still needing to learn to read and write, it is hard for all teachers right across the curriculum to ensure that the child gets a good amount out of the lesson. But in reality how does a CRESTEd school deal with that - do they spend much time in the first few years on teaching the child to read and write, or do they adapt all lessons so it doesn't much matter whether you can or not?

It is right that few state secondaries are geared up to teach children to read and write (which is what many still need on arrival) which is presumably and hopefully why these CRESTEd schools fill a gap. But it may also be a gap that can be filled earlier at home with the right "remediation".

If I were the mother I would be wanting to go and observe at this school in great detail to see how it really works.

Try asking around on the TES forums too - secondary, independent and SEN and any others that look relevant.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 2:58 pm 
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Amber,

My husband and I were in a similar position to your sister; my DC now attends a Crested independent school (hence my previous suggestion) having previously attended state schools. We found we were at a crossroad, DC was increasingly being left behind and state school was very academic and not very interested if you did not conform to their “model” pupil. We tried tuition, but this was not effective as child already done a full day at school and was tired. We had to decide, take LEA to down the statement route which would involve legal fees in excess of £11k or move school.

Legal route, yes we could do it, but what would it get DC, some extra time not with a qualified dyslexia teacher but teaching assistant or use money towards fees. We decided on the latter.

First your sister needs to get an Ed Pysch report from a chartered Ed Pysch. This is an essential document as it not only highlights weaknesses, but also strengths and identifies any needs which may need further investigation. With this information your sister would be in a position to look at next moves. It would also be required by many schools and a good SENCo would want to see it.

There are good schools out there, some but not all may be listed on Crested so also look at the Good School Guide. Selecting a school involves a lot of research and visits and does take time. From initial approach to DC current school to starting in the September was 11 months.

Not all specialist schools run to 18 and in some cases may not be necessary, as some schools have the express purpose of providing children with skills to enable them to attend mainstream schools later, again this is going to be driven by the needs identified in the Ed Pysch report. Some schools are selective and only take children with average to above average intelligence. There is also the issue of gender as some schools are single sex. There are many permutations to consider and no simple answer on what will be the best solution as it needs to be driven by the child’s needs.

Other consideration will be location in that you might narrow down a few schools but find they may not be local. Many specialist schools having boarding and my DC is a weekly boarder and loves it. Cost is also a factor and specialist schools are not cheap, with some running in excess of £20k per year before extras, travel and uniform. If cost is issue, a few years in a specialist school may be the ticket before returning child mainstream whether state or independent. If you go the statementing route it may be possible to get LEA to pay the fees excluding boarding, but this is rare and a very lengthy process and time is running against these children.

Other considerations are she may find family opposition and there may be some on this forum that think independent boarding it is a bad idea. All I can suggest is that it is her child and do what she thinks is right for them. I make no apology for how much my husband and I spend on our child’s education nor do I consider it any one’s business including family. I am fortunate that I have a choice and there are many with greater need that do not, but life is not fair.

Does it work, well what do you mean by work. Rather I would answer, am I happy with the choice we made, yes. We had the opportunity to move DC back to state sector for September 2011 intake, to a highly desirable local “grammar” ranked about 89 in the Financial Times Top 1000 schools. It would be free and walking distance. We have chosen not to because we feel that DC will benefit more from current school even with the considerable cost.

In closing I would say that one of the benefits of a specialist school is that it normalises the child’s needs as there will be other children like themselves. Children with dyslexia and other conditions are often bright but as they get older their self esteem falls as they are left behind by their peers not because they are not intelligent but because they struggle to access the curriculum as it is not presented in a form which they can access. As they become more isolated, their behaviour can also become negative and you end up in negative spiral. Equipped with the right skills, there is not reason for these children not to maximise on their acaedmic potential but in the current economic climate, it may mean some family sacrifice.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:25 pm 
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That is useful. How does your particular crested school tackle dyslexia? Is the emphasis on improving reading and writing, or is the emphasis more on methods of accessing the curriculum with low literacy levels? What methods do they use for either of these approaches? When you say your daughter could now obtain a grammar school place but could not before, what aspects of her skills have been changed at the crested school for this now to be possible when it wasn't before?


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:35 pm 
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Thank you all so much for your replies, which are very detailed. DC has been assessed as severly dyslexic an one local indie refused entry as they didn't think they had the facilities to assist.

My initial question was trying to find out about Moon Hall specifically as that is nearest to home. Maybe someone has a child there or knows of someone who does. That would be really helpful, please.

Thanks again, so much.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:59 pm 
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Sorry I do not have experience of this school so cannot give you the answer you want. I wonder if you are going to find anyone on this forum though.

As significant fees will be paid to this school (either by your sister's LEA or by your sister) I would think that your sister could ask the school to find some parents of children who have gone through the school who can recount their experience of the school?

It would be useful if these children had similar difficulties to your niece - I would suggest that dyslexia is such a broad term that it might be better if they were given your niece's detailed assessment and asked if they could put your sister in touch with a child with similar needs.

Also, if your niece's assessment is detailed it might include details of the sort of support she needs - then your sister can do some more specific investigations of the school to see if they provide this.

If she is severely dyslexic, has she been statemented and what does the statement say about the kind of support the secondary school should provide?


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