What should the college be doing to help a student with dyslexia?
The college should be assessing a student’s learning needs and implementing appropriate accommodations, including in tests and exams. The Learning Support Department of a college have this responsibility. Colleges can apply to the Skills Funding Agency for funding for special needs requirements.
My son is applying for/doing an apprenticeship and is highly rated at the practical work, but can’t pass the written tests. What can I do?
First of all the college needs to make sure that your son has the appropriate accommodations in place for the written tests, such as extra time.
However the design of some of these apprenticeship tests can be difficult for dyslexic candidates. Under the Apprenticeship, Skills, Children & Learning Act 2010, examination bodies are able to offer alternative arrangements where necessary for dyslexic students. You should contact the course provider about an alternative type of assessment.
You can also raise concerns to OfQual, the regulator of qualifications, examinations and assessments in England: Also contact the examination body such as City and Guilds, or for other courses, FAB, the Federation of Awarding Bodies and the Sector Skills Council.
I never managed to pass Maths and English GCSE at school, but I find that I need to have these qualifications for my career. Is there any help?
If you received little help at school for your dyslexic difficulties, you may be able to find a college of Further Education with a good Learning Support Department including a dyslexia specialist who could see what support could be provided. There are also online courses for GCSEs, but you may not find these particularly dyslexia friendly.
However Learn Direct offer level 2 courses in Maths and English which may be acceptable as GCSE equivalent. These qualifications have the advantage of being coursework based with no final examinations. There are some centres which you can attend for tuition.
Students from the United Kingdom who are eligible for Student Finance on a UCAS undergraduate or postgraduate degree course which is full time or part time, can apply for the Disabled Students Allowances from Student Finance. The grant provides for IT equipment, assistive software, study skills support and other allowances.
To download an application form from the internet follow the link. The completed form should be returned to student finance with a copy of a diagnostic assessment report, post 16 years, from either an Educational Psychologist or a specialist dyslexia teacher with a Practising Certificate.
It is a good idea to make the application as soon as you have decided on a provisional offer. By leaving it until you go to university, you may find yourself a term or two with no support.
It is also important to contact the Disability Officer of the university. You could be entitled to accommodations in exams, such as extra time and other access arrangements.
In order to access support at Higher Education, a student will need to show an assessment report post 16 years from either an Educational Psychologist registered with the Health Care Practitioner Council HCPC, (£4-500) or a specialist dyslexia teacher with an SpLD Diploma in Further/Higher Education and an assessment Practising Certificate,(£3-400).
Assessments are also available from the Shropshire Dyslexia Association who ensure that only people who are fully qualified as practising assessors carry out assessments. Most are teachers and all have completed post graduate training in dyslexia. They will be registered with professional bodies such as PATOSS or AMBDA.
The cost is usually between £250 and £300 for a full assessment. Some assessors are willing to spread payments over a few months if it means someone is able to access an assessment. Use the contact form to find out more details.
For a list of specialist teacher assessors, you could look at the website of PATOSS, the professional association of specialist teachers or phone 01386 712 650.
Further information on Educational Psychologists can be obtained from the British Psychological Society: tel. 0116 254 9568.
I cannot afford to get a dyslexia assessment for university: is there any funding?
University funding is no longer available for dyslexia assessments. Contact the SDA Helpline for further advice and information.
What should I do if I feel I have been discriminated against at university in the examination process or in the implementation of the accommodations recommended for me?
Talk to the Disability Office and your faculty tutor. If necessary, go through the university’s complaints procedure. Following this you could appeal to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (like an ombudsman). Your student union may be able to help.
As a student with a disability, is there any funding I can apply for to help with course fees?
There is no funding for course fees available because of a disability.
For information on sources of course funding and educational grant giving trusts see Help for Higher Education Students
I have to pass the QTS test for teaching. What help is there?
You would be entitled to apply for access arrangements with the National College for Teaching and Leadership. A diagnostic assessment report detailing recommended accommodations or providing evidence of need would enable you to apply for all the accommodations that you could be offered. Apart from extra time (up to 50%), these could include a hard copy version (on a paper colour of your choice), a separate room, a reader, the option to tick the correct spelling from a choice of words.
I find multiple choice tests and exams difficult and I always seem to underperform in this format. What help is there?
If you are required to do a test on-screen, this can be very discriminatory as we all read less easily on-screen, so for the dyslexic candidate this can be a significant issue. It may be necessary to go back to your assessor for specific recommendations of accommodations in this type of test. Apart from extra time, these could include hard copy on a paper colour of your choice in a large sans serif font. Text reading software could be helpful. If the exam requires you to put the answer number in a grid instead of circling or ticking the answer, this can cause tracking errors. You could ask to circle the answer on the paper and for someone else to transfer the answers to the grid. For further advice on tackling Multiple Choice exams, see Tackling MCQs
Shropshire Dyslexia Association Helpline:
(Please note: this number is staffed by volunteers. Please allow 48 hours for a response)
Or use our contact form
At Belle Vue Methodist Church, Belle Vue Rd, Shrewsbury.
On Saturday mornings during term time between 9.30 am and 12.30 pm.
On Thursday evenings between 4.15 and 6.15 pm.