DYSLEXIA - ? A GENERATIONAL ISSUE [Part 2]

The first part of my 3-Generational look at Dyslexia focused on the experience of Granddad, born in 1948. Now we step forward a generation to Granddad’s son, born in 1978 and subsequently his grandson, born in 2008. During those two 30-year periods there were major changes in schools, as well as big upheavals in society at large.

School experience

  • Born in 1978, Granddad’s son went to primary school in 1983, aged 5, until he was 11, in 1989. 
    • His primary and secondary schools would be run by his Local Authority. 
  • By 1983, primary school classrooms were much less formal.
    • There would be fewer children per class; perhaps 30.
    • They would be seated in groups around tables with the teacher moving from group to group.
    • The children would be encouraged to ask questions and take part in collaborative tasks.
    • There were no Teaching Assistants.
  • In 1988 The National Curriculum was introduced in all state schools.
    • The intention was to standardise the content taught across schools.
  • The National Curriculum gave rise to “Statutory Assessments”.
    • Known as SATs tests in Reading, Writing, Maths & Science, initially for all 7 and 11 year olds.
    • These tests were phased in from 1989 onwards.
    • They continue to be reviewed and amended by successive governments.
  • The statistics gleaned from SATs are used to compile “league tables” of schools.
    • SATs are designed to test the achievements of the school, not the individual child. 
    • However, they are not anonymous, so they do reveal an individual child’s difficulties.
    • Dyslexia may be revealed, but will not necessarily trigger systematic help.
  • Grandad’s son is unlikely to have taken SATs tests at his primary school.
    • These were not yet fully established by 1989.
  • By the mid-197O’s most secondary schools were Comprehensives.
    • The 1965 legislation to create Comprehensive schools took a decade to implement.
    • These were either new schools or mergers of existing Grammars and “Secondary Moderns”.
  • By the mid-197O’s the 11+ had been phased out. 
    • So when Granddad’s son progressed from primary to Comprehensive school in 1989 he did so without a selective examination.
  • In 1973 the school leaving age had been raised to 16.
    • It had been 15 since 1946 (27 years)
    • Granddad’s son would expect to be at his Comprehensive school for 5 years, until 1994. 
  • In 1965 the “Certificate of Secondary Education” (CSE) was introduced.
    • The CSE was remodelled in 1988 to incorporate GCE O-levels and renamed GCSE
    • The GCSE was to be used by both Comprehensive and Grammar schools
    • Before leaving school Granddad’s son would have to take the GCSE in a number of subjects.
  • The GCSE was an academic exam requiring good levels of literacy
    • Many students did not do well in exams
    • When the cause was dyslexia, this may not have been recognised.
    • The 1993 Education Act required schools to address “Special Needs” but this did not include dyslexia.
    • Dyslexia awareness was not routinely included in teacher training at that time.
  • Careers advice emphasised GCSEs for vocational training as well as university entrance.
    • Encouragement to stay on at school for A-levels, or go to a Further Education College.

Wider Social Experience – 1980’s and 1990’s

  • A much greater level of affluence than in Granddad’s day.
    • Council house tenants given the ‘right to buy’ leading to increased home ownership.
    • Frequently both parents working in a job outside the home.
    • More opportunities for social mobility for working class people.
    • A greater aspiration for advanced level education.
    • Good levels of literacy demanded in many occupations.

PRESENT GENERATION – THE 10-YEAR-OLD GRANDSON

School Experience

  • Our 10-year-old may attend an Academy or Free School or Faith School.
    • That school will be outside Local Authority control and will not have to comply with the National Curriculum.
  • Our 10-year-old, born in 2008, started primary school in 2013.
    • He will take SATs tests at primary school but no selective examination to secondary school.
    • He will be taught in an informal classroom setting
    • It might be decorated with artwork, models and mobiles as well as the children’s work.
    • Since 2003 there has been a Teaching Assistant in the classroom.
  • He will be taught reading by “Synthetic Phonics” as per government policy.
    • If he shows signs of falling behind he will be given small-group or individual help.
    • This will be more practice with “Synthetic Phonics”.
  • Dyslexia has been included in Special Educational Needs since 2001.
    • If he fails to progress with reading he may be informally assessed for dyslexia.
    • If the school can afford it, he may receive a full Ed. Psych. assessment for dyslexia.
    • His parents may pursue an Ed. Psych. assessment for dyslexia, at their own expense.
    • This is a lengthy and complicated procedure which may result in:
      • a statement of Special Educational Needs with extra help delivered by the school
      • Or an EHC (Educational Healthcare Plan) which would be funded by the government but may be delivered independently of the school.
      • Any Ed. Psych assessment for dyslexia would follow him throughout his education.
  • The school leaving age was raised to 18 in 2015.
    • The last two years may be completed on an approved training scheme outside school.
  • He will go to secondary school in 2019 and expect to remain in full-time education until 2026.
    • If he is successful academically he can expect to proceed to university at age 18 and remain in full-time education for a further 3 years or more.
  • Between the ages of 16 and 25, as a student he may apply himself for an EHC.
    • An EHC attracts government funding.
    • it is not unknown for young people to be undiagnosed as dyslexic until they get to Further Education or university.

Wider Social Experience – 2018 and beyond

  • Our 10-year-old is a child of the social media generation and will be more at home with electronic devices than pencil & paper or books.
  • He will almost certainly have TV and/or a computer in his bedroom
    • He will probably play computer games on his own, but linked electronically to other players.
  • He will very likely be driven by car to school every day and to his out-of-school activities.
  • He may not have any unsupervised play time away from his home.
    • He may take part in organised sport or exercise, such as football or swimming.
  • Any eventual job prospects are likely to depend upon well developed literacy skills.
    • Job opportunities for unqualified school leavers with poor literacy skills are not good.
    • 40% of the prison population is estimated to be dyslexic.
  • No one today can guess what challenges a child leaving school in 2026 will encounter.
    • Good transferable skills such as literacy will always confer an advantage.

Download our “Holly Willoughby is a brave and a beautiful lady” P.D.F. to read about what she did.  Includes a you-tube video link to Gloria Morgan talking about Dayglo Books, what they are, and how the company started.