Dyslexic pupils 'penalised' under new writing assessments

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Many high achieving dyslexic children across England will be branded failures as a result of the government’s controversial new primary writing assessments, according to the TES.

In order to reach the ‘expected standard’ for writing at the end of Year 6, pupils must be able to spell most of the 200 words on government wordlists.

However, teachers and leaders are furious because the Department for Education (DfE) has said that no allowance will be made for the tens of thousands of pupils with dyslexia. Experts in the condition predict that they will all fall short on the spelling requirement.

Heads argue that failing dyslexic children who trip up on spelling – even if they pass all the other 17 elements of the writing assessment – will unnecessarily damage their self-esteem. Pie Corbett, a former government literacy advisor, describes the emphasis on spelling as ‘ignorant and cruel’.

The NAHT headteachers’ union and the charity Dyslexia Action are warning that the DfE’s stance could be discriminatory and are demanding that it is changed. Children with dyslexia face a considerable challenge as indicated in a website simulator which shows what it’s like to read with the condition.

Kath Grant, ASDAN Director of Education, said: “ASDAN’s commitment is to remove barriers to achievement, whereas these new spelling assessments actually invent barriers.

“Our broad range of flexible programmes and qualifications reward young people for what they know, rather than what they don’t. We help motivate learners through short-term targets, a personalised curriculum and regular rewarding of achievement. This boosts their confidence, self-esteem, academic achievement and helps them reach their potential as individuals and members of society.”

A DfE spokesman said: “Spelling and handwriting are key elements of the national curriculum in primary school. To enable all children to reach their full potential, it is essential that they develop their skills in these areas, including those with dyslexia.”