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.