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Dyslexia charities unite over teachers’ literacy test concerns.



 In response to the release of the latest primary school writing assessment imposed by the UK Government, two of the high profile dyslexia charities have come together to issue the following press release.


TWO leading UK charities for people with literacy difficulties are voicing joint concerns over the latest primary school writing assessment.

Dyslexia Action and the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) believe this year’s Key Stage 2 (KS2) English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests and the ‘interim’ teacher assessment framework for writing could disadvantage pupils with dyslexia.
There are two main concerns:
·         Firstly, the overall mark for punctuation, grammar and spelling will be combined from KS2 Papers 1 and 2, rather than spelling being treated as a separate category.
·         Secondly, in a separate Teacher Assessment, children will need to show they can spell ‘most’ of the words used in their piece of writing correctly.
To be ‘working at the expected standard’, pupils will need to meet a number of expectations listed including:
• spelling most words correctly* (years 5 and 6)

This will mean that dyslexic children may produce excellent content in their writing but fail the writing standard due to weak spelling.

 

The BDA is concerned at the ‘unprecedented’ amount of calls it has consequently received from teachers, with some asking how they should teach pupils with dyslexia to help them achieve the required standard. Helpline Manager Sue Flohr says the charity receives around 20,000 calls and emails a year on average from people concerned about various aspects of dyslexia.  An increased number are now received from teachers. “We can signpost them to a specialist teaching course but teachers don’t necessarily have time to do additional specialist training”.
Research shows some 52% of teachers leaving teacher training still receive no input on dyslexia in their courses (Fish in the Tree report, 2014).   BDA Chief Executive Dr Kate Saunders said: ‘There is a huge need for all teachers to be trained in initial teacher training to be able to spot the signs of dyslexia, teach in a dyslexia friendly way in the classroom and know when to signpost the child on for further assessment and intervention. 1 in 10 pupils experience some level of dyslexic difficulty, so all teachers are teachers of dyslexic children’.  
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dyslexia and other Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDS), of which Dyslexia Action is the Secretariat, will be voicing its concerns to Schools Minister Nick Gibb MP following representations made by the BDA and concerned teachers that the writing requirement could be creating a disadvantage for children whose ability to learn to spell is impaired because of their dyslexia.



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