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GCSE English challenge for dyslexia/dyspraxic pupil

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by angelmouse75, Feb 26, 2016.

  1. angelmouse75

    angelmouse75 New commenter

    I'm really hoping someone can help, I'm at my wit's end and I'm not sure how to proceed.

    I teach English in a Medical Referral Unit and have a Year 11 student. He has dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and sensory integration difficulties. He came to us at the beginning of Year 11 having missed most of Year 10 - he had lost his only parent in Year 9 and then refused to engage.

    He struggles with reading and writing at GCSE but has point blank refused Step Up or Functional skills - and he's far too bright to warrant those anyway so he's doing AQA igcse. But he's stuck. I've worked with him solidly for the past term and a half and he's made only slight progress. He finds it difficult to understand what a question is asking him and so he shuts down completely and gives up after Q1. A question such as 'explain how this poster makes the film seem scary' will be responded with 'it doesn't' and nothing more.
    I've suggested that he tries to do the writing section first to maximise his marks and have been teaching him to break down the writing questions to try and do some single word planning. He's a slow writer and it's barely legible but he's stubborn about using the computer either, even though I've shown him that it is faster. He doesn't like what he terms 'creative writing' so I'm encouraging him to choose the 'writing to explain' questions, where possible. I put myself through BDA dyslexia courses for some tips and I've been trying different planning methods with him but he's just 'stuck' when it comes to getting anything on paper independently and it breaks my heart because I want him to do well and can't accept that there's not something else I could be doing.

    I'm hoping that someone with a little more experience than me, might be able to help. All suggestions welcome.

  2. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    I get this sort of problem with some pupils with ASD who tend to answer questions very literally:

    Q - Explain how the writer makes you feel sympathy for the character?
    A - I didn't feel sympathy for him. He was stupid and killed himself.

    I think you need to spend some time "interpreting" questions. Explain that exam boards use a formula for questions which is almost like another language and the first thing you need to do is work out what they want the answer to be.

    You have to accept that this may not be the actual answer to the question they ask e.g. you don't think the poster makes the film seems scary but the exam board wants to see if you can work out how they have tried to make it seem scary to some people.

    Spend a lot of time with model answers and mark schemes and turn it into a game in the sense that, yes, they should just ask what they mean but it's what you have to do to win the marks!
  3. never_expect_anything

    never_expect_anything Occasional commenter

    My first instinct, like Flere-Imsaho, is that this sounds more like ASD than a dyslexia/dyspraxia/ADHD issue. Working on interpreting questions as advised above may be helpful.

    However, at this late stage in Y11, after a term and a half of limited progress, what are you hoping to achieve by continuing to pursue GCSE? It sounds like he's already destined to fail and leave without an English qualification. Presumably he'll be moving on to college in September. Perhaps he's too bright for 'Step-Up', but Functional Skills Level 1-2 are equivalent to GCSE level, so I don't see how he can be 'too bright' for Functional Skills. Although FS questions require you to imagine circumstances (which can still be a problem for some ASD students), the reading questions are literal and there is no 'creative' writing. Alongside developing his skills for the GCSE-type questions (which would stand him in good stead for future study, but may not enable him to achieve his potential in the Summer 2016 exams), I would seriously focus on trying to persuade him of the limitations of his circumstances (not his fault!) and work on developing skills to sit the Functional Skills assessments as well, as a back-up qualification.

    Finally, if he's a slow writer, have you ensured that 'Access Arrangements' (e.g. extra time) have been applied for? If he won't use a computer, have you tried teaching him to work with a scribe (if he would be entitled to one)?
    pepper5 likes this.
  4. never_expect_anything

    never_expect_anything Occasional commenter

    @angelmouse75 , as katykook suggests, you might want to try posting this in the Special Educational Needs forum, since you've had lots of views on both of your posts (in English and Behaviour) and very few responses but all of which identify potential ASD...

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