Planning on thinking about exam arrangements later? Think again! Even though exam season is months away, there are certain things every parent needs to do this September to make sure their dyslexic child gets the extra time and other provisions they’re entitled to.
1. Get a formal dyslexia diagnosis
This is the crucial step one in the process of securing dyslexia-friendly exam accommodations for your child. And it can’t be left until a few weeks before exams!Particularly for parents who are getting a diagnosis through their child’s school, the process can be very long indeed. September is the time to start pushing for action. Talk to your child’s class teacher, and get the head teacher and SENCo (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) involved, as well. Gather examples of your child’s work that prove they have specific issues that need supporting (e.g. weak spelling). There’s nothing wrong with being a pushy parent!
Don’t let yourself be fobbed off with a ‘screening and planning’ assessment, either. This isn’t a formal dyslexia diagnosis and it doesn’t entitle your child to extra time in exams. Make sure your child gets the ‘real thing’ – an assessment from a Chartered Psychologist or Specialist Assessor.
2. Check the recommendations section of your child’s dyslexia report
You’ve already got a formal diagnosis for your child? Great! Now make sure you know exactly what they’re entitled to, in terms of exam allowances.
Dig out the dyslexia report and look at the recommendations section. Hopefully this will list suggestions for special exam arrangements, such as how much extra time (up to 25%) has been recommended for your child.
(Can’t find the recommendations on your child’s report? Check out my dyslexia exam arrangements guide for more info on where to look.)
3. Establish a ‘normal way of working’ for your child in the classroom
Don’t wait till exam season to flag up to the school these recommendations. Your child should also get special allowances in the classroom.In fact, it’s a good idea to establish practices like using a word processor or having a reader as the child’s ‘normal way of working’ before formal exams. So talk to the SENCo or Head of Learning Support as soon as possible, rather than leaving it till nearer exam time.
If your child is entitled to extra time, rest breaks, a laptop, large print, a scribe, or a reader in exams, then they should also be allowed these throughout the year. This will help the school to ‘paint a picture of need’ and provide evidence for the paperwork needed to secure dyslexia-friendly access arrangements in formal exams.
Want to know more about exam allowances? Check out my quick guide: Dyslexia exam arrangements: how your child can get extra time and other allowances.
Read more from the Back-to-School splash: How to get a dyslexia eye test for free.