Dyslexic Pupils at Grammar Schools

Dyslexic Pupils at Grammar Schools

By Louise Green

A pupil with dyslexia/specific learning difficulties (SpLD) who has successfully obtained a grammar school place is unlikely to demonstrate the "typical" dyslexic symptoms but will exhibit a pattern of difficulties that can help to identify the problem. Not all pupils will have all the symptoms but most will have some from the following list: -


  • Incorrect word endings word i.e. deciding/decided
  • Bizarre letter patterns
  • Transposed letters within words i.e. form/from or wolud/would
  • A word that is spelt differently at least twice on the same page i.e. coton, cottoon, cotan, cotton


  • Inaccurate reading aloud - words can be omitted, added, transposed, substituted or mispronounced - especially small words like 'the'
  • Slower reading speed than the rest of the group or slower than you would expect from their overall performance
  • Misreading/misinterpreting of questions
  • Not following printed instructions
  • Poor proof-reading skills leading to "careless" work with "avoidable" mistakes
  • Misinterpreting information
  • Difficulty in spotting implied information


  • Written work not reaching expected standard from verbal performance
  • Written work shorter than expected
  • Written work containing rambling sentences with meaning frequently implied but not clearly stated
  • Actual question not answered
  • Words omitted or added to the text
  • Work containing too much irrelevant detail
  • Not enough detail supplied
  • Order of work confused and/or jumbled
  • Inability to write what was meant
  • A better standard of work produced when pupil uses a keyboard
  • Difficulty in answering an "open" question - i.e. Tell me about yourself
  • Much better at answering a specific question - i.e. Tell me about your hobbies


  • Poor punctuation generally
  • Full stops omitted
  • Too many commas
  • Long rambling sentences
  • Poor use of paragraphs
  • Inappropriate use of the apostrophe


  • Letters poorly formed and unevenly spaced
  • Slower writing speed than expected
  • Not able to write on the lines
  • Uneven spacing between words
  • Inappropriate writing size
  • Gaps left at end and/or beginning of lines/pages
  • Words crushed together at end of lines
  • Immature pen grip and poor writing posture
  • Exerting too much pressure when writing which can cause physical discomfort


  • Inaccurate copying of work from the board or books
  • Slow copying speed
  • Preference to copy from neighbour rather than the board
  • Not completing work within the allocated time


  • Difficulty in planning work
  • Missing equipment on a regular basis
  • Equipment brought on the wrong day
  • Forgetting unusual events such as mufti-day
  • Forgetting to deliver forms and information sheets to parents
  • Forgetting to return forms and payments
  • Forgetting which subjects they have each day
  • Bringing the wrong files to lessons
  • Needing instructions repeated more than once on a regular basis
  • Not following instructions or difficulty in following instructions
  • Difficulty in settling to work in lessons (and at home)
  • Either totally disorganised or over organised (almost paranoid)
  • Forgetting instructions/things to do that are not written down


  • Immature for their age
  • Isolated within the class
  • The class clown
  • Treated with amused superiority by peer group
  • Seen as less intelligent by peer group
  • Awkward in social settings
  • Aggressive when confronted
  • Low self-esteem
  • Super-sensitive to criticism
  • Overanxious and insecure
  • Suffering from stress and has difficulty relaxing
  • Sleep problems
  • Always saying "Sorry"
  • Tendency to have more single day absences from school than peer group


  • Not being able to follow instructions in class and/or a tendency to forget verbal instructions
  • Talking once the others have settled down to work (asking neighbour what they are meant to be doing?)
  • Asking for confirmation of the instructions
  • Not able to process the spoken sound (NOT a hearing problem!)
  • Switching off after a comparatively short listening period
  • Inability to recall/repeat what was said
  • Not processing verbally presented information at all
  • Missing the point and/or misinterpreting verbally presented information
  • Listening skills worse when there is constant background noise
  • Difficulty in note-taking from verbally presented information
  • Asking for constant repetitions of dictation
  • Copying/completing notes from friend after the lesson


  • Word retrieval difficulties
  • Not putting up hand in class as can’t/slow to process verbal answer
  • Volunteering answer but then unable to supply that answer
  • Inability to clearly and concisely state what they mean
  • Poor verbal sequencing skills
  • Describing what is meant instead of the correct technical terms
  • Difficulty in answering an "open" question - i.e. Tell me about yourself
  • Much better at answering a specific question - i.e. Tell me about your hobbies
  • Stammering when answering
  • Jumping topics when answering - the grasshopper or butterfly mind!


  • Difficulty in acquiring study skills
  • Not an incidental learning like most of the peer group – need to be shown explicitly
  • Slower to acquire new concepts - but once acquired has no greater difficulty than rest of class
  • May be slow to pick up on physical skills
  • Finding it hard to start work


  • Difficulty in recording homework accurately
  • Difficulty in remembering to do homework
  • Difficulty in prioritising homework
  • Difficulty in remembering to return homework when completed


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