Thursday, 17 February 2011

Letter Sent to Senco

Thank you for sending out the form for reassessment of Matthew with the Educational Psychologist. We are returning it promptly in order that the process can be undertaken as quickly as possible.
Following our conversation on the 14/2/11, we must admit we are greatly disappointed and frustrated that the school has only now recognised Matthew’s diagnosis of Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD). We did have a meeting with the then temporary SENCO Miss XXXXXX in Nov 2009 when we discussed these facts and we were asked to forward the Nov 2006 Educational Psychologist report to the school, which we did early in Dec 2009 to ensure that the information was in your hands. I’m sure you’ll find this in the minutes of the meeting.
However, we feel we should move forward from this in a positive manner.
We have a number of questions:-
• Are all his current Set 4 subject teachers and new teachers in Set 2 now being informed of his diagnosis of Specific Learning Difficulties via a new Pen Portrait?
• Will Matthew be issued with a new IEP? Will Matthew be consulted on what he thinks will help him to achieve his best work?
• The IEP given to us in Nov ’09 doesn’t appear to have been reviewed in June ’10 with outcomes/target achievements, with particular reference to spelling. If it has been done shouldn’t we have a copy?
• Will the school be able to check his spelling age quickly as we are concerned that waiting for the Ed. Psych. to attend will hold up any help in this area?
• Where is this school year’s IEP?
Our feelings are that it is important to update his assessment, but emphasis on accommodations available to him within the classroom setting are more important. He has proved that with such things as booklets e.g. sciences and languages, where there is less emphasis on writing tasks he can cope well independently. We find that he still brings unfinished parts home but is enthusiastic to complete them on the same night and this actually helps with his learning. Further concerns are that although he has an excellent vocabulary and can speak confidently, his work suffers as he tries to shorten things down due to writing problems and also omits his first choice word because he can’t spell it.
Please can you keep us informed of any accommodations you’re putting in place for Matthew in light of the new information that has come to your attention with reference to his earlier diagnosis of SpLD?
Yours sincerely,

• Annex – Points of Concern (and Letter to Miss XXXXXXX dated Dec 09)
• IEP – September 2009 to June 2010

I am unsure whose attention this should have, so please could you pass it on to the correct person.

Points of Concern
I have grave concerns about the Set 4 class Matthew is in. My concerns are exacerbated by the fact that the school was unaware that Matthew has a diagnosis of Specific Learning Difficulties; even though I sent a copy of the Nov. 2006 Ed. Psych report directly to Miss xxxxxx in December 2009 with a covering letter. This was following the meeting in November 2009 where we discussed the probable misdiagnosis of ADD and Matthew’s earlier diagnoses.
Dyslexia and dyspraxia does not disappear over time but can be remediated with the correct input, so the diagnosis of Dyslexia still stands with the other updated reports which should be in his file.
I feel Matthew is in Set 4 not due to a lack of ability but due to his Learning Disability, the only Year 7 exam mark that let him down was English at 30%. His English teacher even concluded in her report that “the exam result was disappointing and does not reflect his ability in the subject”.
In the Set 4 class there are several children who seem to lack any enthusiasm to learn (and I fully understand that this is probably not their fault), but it does not help the class work moving along.
Examples: -
• October half term Mr XXXXX (a learning support teacher? - who teaches 1 geography class every other week) asked the class to learn for an EU test in Geography for the following week. Only 2 pupils revised so the test was postponed another 2 weeks, then a pre test was given (with maps), then in another 2 weeks the actual test was given. Matthew learned the information for the first weeks test and was left hanging around for most of the class to catch up, and was totally bored and fed up by the time the test came around. He still received 100% for this test.
• The Spanish class is disrupted every week by the same group of boys. Matthew and other children are exposed to bad language and poor behaviour in every class, every week. Matthew enjoys Spanish and has a good relationship with Miss XXXXX, but can he give his best work and can the teacher do her best teaching with this continual disruption?

We only wish to fully understand the reasoning behind placing an enthusiastic learner who has an understanding of these humanity subjects and has a real thirst for learning in the lower set when his only “crime” is having poor basic skills, through no fault of his own. Obviously we do not expect Matthew to ever be in Set 1 and probably not 2 for Humanities (or are we selling him short?), but we do have expectations that he would give his best work in Set 3 and this is his aim. I feel with the help of appropriate accommodations and teacher knowledge of his difficulties he could manage this. Surely our education system today has the knowledge and capabilities to circumvent these problems? Please could you outline exactly what Matthew has to prove before he can expect a review of this setting?
Yours faithfully

Enclosed: - Covering Letter that was sent to Miss XXXXXX dated Dec 2009

X xxxxx Comprehensive School

2nd December 2009

Dear Miss XXXXXXX,

Many thanks to you and your colleagues for the “Brief Progress Summary” report dated Nov 09, which was sent home with Matthew last week. We are extremely pleased with his progress since beginning at X XXXX, and he is thoroughly enjoying all his lessons at present.

We attended an appointment with the Paediatrician on Tuesday 1 December 2009. The doctor seems to think that in some cases, ADD subsides with age and there would be “no point in re-assessing Matthew” as the Connors Test was representative of his condition at that time, and there is no harm in letting it stand. His condition appears to have totally altered since this assessment, but if you think it is beneficial to get the diagnosis removed we have another appointment in a years time when we can revisit it with the Doctor again.

In our opinion, Matthew's lack of attention was due to Sensory Processing Disorder (which was diagnosed by the Occupational Therapist), causing Matthew auditory and fine motor problems at a crucial window of learning, i.e. up until 8 yrs old. These symptoms caused a lack of language acquisition in English and Welsh, which was more apparent in his second language in which he was taught. It appears that there will always be underlying problems due to the way Matthew's development has compensated for these difficulties, which gave rise to his Specific Learning Differences, and also the unique way that he interprets information.

We have included the Educational Psychology report dated 15 November 2006 in which Matthew was given a diagnosis of Specific Learning Difficulties. Mr Richard Edwards also hoped to refer Matthew to the Dyslexia panel for extra support but he did not meet the criteria at this point. When retested in February 2007 Matthew did meet the criteria for the panel but was denied this support due to his scores not falling below the cut off line for numbers to receive support within RCT. Consequently we undertook the Stairway to Spelling technique to teach Matthew to spell at least the first 300 most used words which was and still is a highly effective way for Matthew to learn his spellings.

Matthew’s biggest problem seems to be written work and the speed at which he writes. The Educational Psychologist answer to this was to suggest typing on a computer, which he has been working on, but he still has not got the speed up above 13 words per minute. I wonder what the schools opinion would be of him working on a computer in lessons and at home, maybe sometime in the future?

Once again, thank you for your detailed appraisal of Matthew's progress, and we look forward to reviewing his progress in the future with the school.

Yours sincerely,

Monday, 14 February 2011

New Tutor

Decided to bite the bullet and get Matthew a new English tutor. First impressions are promising. She tested him on listening and speaking, and states that he is confident and listens well. She gave him a reading test, were she could tell he wasn't totally fluent but he told her on the whole he understands most of what he reads. His writing he needs to work on the skills and grammar. Spelling not so good, but she commented on how spelling is not concentrated on in primary and how much of a gap Secondary teachers are expected to fill. If he learns the spellings these days he can retain the spellings, something Dore tells clients to revisit after the programme, but sadly spelling is something that schools don't seem to concentrate on after a certain age. Something to work on!

Spoke to Senco

Managed to speak to Senco who started in September, basically to ask why Matthew hasn't had his spelling scores updated as promised by the temporary Senco last July, asked why Matthew had no accomodations to help him with History e.g copying out swathes of writng which is slow and laborious, taking up the time that he could be answering the questions at the end. Found out that Matthew's diagnosis of SpLD has not been recognised by the school, they have the diagnosis or rather misdiagnosis of ADD but he was unaware of the Ed Psych report (the one I copied, highlighted and sent in to make sure the school had it, with a covering letter about Sensory processing disorder). However he dug out the file and found the report. I also asked about getting writing speed checked. The Senco advisedus to have Matthew's Ed Psych report updated, and writing speed could be measured at the same time. He is also going to speak to the History teacher in light of the "new" information on Math's SpLD. He also taught Matthew last year and remembers him as an enthusiastic learner, and wouldn't say had ADD at all. So a positive outcome- hopefully.

Friday, 4 February 2011

At last Some Sense

Matthew has been moved to Set 2, following yet another high mark, physics this time 92%, all sets 1-3 had the same test (they cover the same booklet). Had the phone call Wed morning, and he moved today-Fri. Came home with extra booklet sheets to add to his Level 3-6 booklet for Chemistry (the Level 5-7 work).
A bit shocked at how swiftly they moved him.