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PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 12:59 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:15 pm
Posts: 196
Location: Birmingham
I am after some advice please.

I have had a meeting today with my son's teacher, senco and headmistress today. DS2 is in Y1 and has had learning support with the senco for almost 2 years now.

They have told me that he is bright, evidenced by his use of advanced vocabulary in the correct context. Over the last year his reading has improved a lot (he literally used to refuse to look at a book last year - he would turn his head away), he is still behind his classmates but is now catching up. He loves 'show and tell' and apparently holds the attention of the other children. His maths is improving too (especially if it involves money!) but he confuses 12 and 20 on a regular basis. He has a good imagination and loves telling us stories and having stories told to him.

However, despite lots of 1:1 work at school and at home his spelling is very poor (often 3/10 in the weekly test), he often reverses letters (hte instead of the) or spells things phonetically even after loads of practice. His written work is slow and short and recently he couldn't read back what he had written to his teacher. The gap between his verbal and written work is getting bigger. It is nearly always a big upsetting battle to get him to settle to do a worksheet at home, although increasingly he will do maths OK. He needs lots of prompts to remind him to do what is needed.

The bottom line is that we need to find the 'key' to unlock his capability for written work so the school has suggested that we have an Ed Psych assessment done. They will provide a list of Ed Psych's, but they "can't recommend".

How do I find a good Ed Psych in Birmingham? What questions should I ask?

All suggestions gratefully received. :)

Thank you.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:04 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:22 pm
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Is this a state school? State schools have their own attached EPs who have a 'patch' in which they cover all the schools. The school will usually arrange for the EP to make a visit to see specific children.

I have never taught in independent schools though, so things will obviously be different there.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:24 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2010 4:38 pm
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"DS2 is in Y1 and has had learning support with the senco for almost 2 years now."

He's been with the senco since the beginning of reception? What was the basis for starting that?


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:37 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:15 pm
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Location: Birmingham
He is at an Independent school, so he actually started there almost 3 years ago. The reason he was selected to have extra help was that he was needing 1:1 support from the Teaching Assistant and not progressing as expected in terms of recognising written phonics, numbers etc. One of the assessments by the school required him to write various letters and numbers, they showed the result to me and it looked like hierogliphics, in most cases it was impossible to read. The good news is that his letter formation has improved lots, but he still refuses to shape some of the letters properly.

Thanks


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 4:52 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 7:46 pm
Posts: 308
Location: Bucks
When I was looking I rang one up and had a good chat about my DS, didn't feel that he was rushing me or that I was taking up too much of his time. He eventually told me that he thought my DS had Aspergers (first person who actually had the guts to actually say what they were thinking and a relief).

I didn't feel under any obligation to go to him and in fact didn't get DS assessed till 6 months later (after diagnosis).

So I would ring a few have a chat and go with your gut feeling.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 6:44 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
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Location: Buckinghamshire
You can search for an EP here: http://www.bps.org.uk/bpslegacy/dcp

The search facility used to be beautifully simple, but it now has too many options. Just go for postcode and "child", then click on each name to see what their specialisms are.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 9:57 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:15 pm
Posts: 196
Location: Birmingham
Morning Glory and Sally-Anne

Thanks for responding with such useful and comforting advice. This is whole new experience for me and I now feel better equipped to take the next step.

poppit


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 9:14 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:56 pm
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Make sure you get someone who has lots of experience in the state school sector and has been reasonably high up within an LEA Ed Psych service.

How old is your son now? My gut feeling tells me your son does not have SEN but this school is not very imaginative. But I have no reason or sufficient facts to say this.

What concrete facts has this school given you about your son? How does his reading age now compare with his chronological age? Have they not come across the 12 and 20 mix-up before ...... it's not that unusual is it and don't most kids grow out of it quite soon and can be pretty good at maths?

Sounds like someone put him off books somewhere along the line; glad to hear that is resolving now.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:29 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:15 pm
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Location: Birmingham
Hi Mystery

He is almost 7. I don't know about his reading age, I'm told it is behind his classmates and he is not catching up - although he is definitely improving and enjoying reading more. He has always enjoyed being read to.

I sometimes think that part of it is that he puts up mental barriers himself, he thinks he is no good at something, he doesn't like that feeling, so he wants to avoid it so he applies his will of iron to getting out of it - Oscar winning strops, displacement activities etc. Even the simplest bit of homework usually becomes a draining experience because he doesn't want to do it. Recently he has started saying he is rubbish at everything and working himself into a tizzy. We obviously give him many examples that prove why this is not the case, which settles him somewhat, so he is in a better frame of mind.

He can't always read back his own writing, copies inaccurately from the board, but can copy well from something on paper if he points to the work with his finger. His spelling is variable, even for high frequency words and the results of his spelling tests at school are usually below 5 out of 10 (this week he got zero). Even if he can spell something verbally, he frequently doesn't spell it correctly on paper.

He is growing more confident with maths (but still behind), numbers are written down correctly now (usually). He likes counting money!

His spoken vocabulary is very advanced (many people comment on it), he is highly imaginative, good at practical and theoretical problem solving, likes doing experiments and asks lots of thought provoking questions. I just want to find the way to help him improve his basic skills.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:52 am 
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Interesting. Have you found an Ed Psych yet? I don't know what area of the country you are in. I'm in Kent and I've used a Surrey Ed Psych once whom I would not use again, but it still served its purpose for me at the time (I just needed reassurance that child was intelligent and school was bonkers). I've seen the profile of one based in Croydon who I think looks good but I've not used them so it would not be a personal recommendation.

I just wonder if your son's schools have used teaching methods that do not fit with his particular way of thinking, bright as he is, and then they treat him as though he's not when he is. Whatever, it sounds like his confidence in himself at 7 is being eroded. A good Ed Pysch might boost his confidence as they will stress the areas in which he is doing really well and make himself feel chuffed with himself. The trouble is that unless you meet these people first yourself you might send your son off to three hours of assessment with someone who does not make him feel any better about himself, he'll just start to wonder if you are thinking there is something wrong with him!!

A trip to a Ed Psych will only work well if it's one who will not just measure your child's abilities, but will somehow be able to work with the school or you after the assessment to help you all "teach" him in a way that will unlock his potential. Otherwise you are going to come away with a piece of paper saying that your son is bright, and some measurements of this, but no way forward.

For example, he could have hit a wall in the reading when he was younger because they did "look, say" methods, and he needed synthetic phonics to help him crack the code. Or in the maths they may have a great emphasis on learning number facts by rote when that his weakness and his strength is concepts and working things out for himself. Then he will have felt himself to be failing all the time.

Is he "shy" at school in any way in any particular situations? Hate the word, and don't use it with the teachers, but are there aspects of his behaviour at school which teachers describe to you which would indicate that he is shy?

My daughter's school keep on harping on about her spelling but when I have it tested externally it is well above average for her age. Spelling things "phonetically" at 7 is something that state school teachers would be aiming at, with some of it being straightened out by now, but it's a long process with some children and no measure of their ability otherwise.

I find it puzzling they tell you that your son is behind the others in his reading, but you have no concept of what his reading ability actually is. If I were you I would be asking the school for a copy of your son's educational record. Hopefully you will get it without having to ask for it formally, but otherwise you can request it under the the right act, (google for this), pay for photocopies, and you are entitled to see the full record within 15 school days. As you are paying fees and they are telling you there is some kind of problem I see no reason why they would wish to withold this from you, particularly as you now are willing to pay extra money to see an Ed Psych.

Are they giving you anything useful to help you support your son at home? e.g. when he was struggling with reading was there an interesting synthetic phonics programme which was explained to you to use at home? Or interesting practical maths activities?

Have you considered that the SENCO might not be a great teacher, and the fact that he goes for SENCO help might have destroyed his confidence in some way? Maybe you could hatch a plan where the SENCO instead helps you to help him so he doesn't have to be withdrawn from lessons. You could then tell him he doesn't need to go to the SENCO for help anymore, and if you wanted get a really good private tutor who is used to working with this age group and uses some fun ways of improving children's reading and maths. If he builds up his confidence in these tutor sessions he might then feel more confident in class. It's a lot to fit in after a school day but with independent school holidays you could do it then?

Again the tutor will find the school record helpful, and any examples you have of the child's schoolwork.

The thing you have to remember is that your son is bright, it's not him that's failing, it's the adults around him who are failing him in some way.


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