Many schools do their best to support pupils with special needs, but face a number of difficulties (see below). The earlier dyslexic difficulties are addressed and specialist help sought, the less damage is done to self-esteem and the greater the likelihood that the learner can catch up with their peers.
Dyslexia is often not diagnosed early enough in a child’s school career and so these children struggle to read, and find writing, composition, grammar and spelling impossible to master. When a child falls behind in primary school, they will be included in a support program, but this will probably only last half a term. Phonics lessons (based on the 44 sounds of English) as taught in primary schools are usually not sufficient for a dyslexic pupil to progress to full literacy.
It may be possible to obtain a Statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN). However, this route does not always lead to progress for a number of reasons. The Individual Learning Plans put in place in schools may not be specially designed for dyslexia, and schools typically lack teachers who are trained in methods to address dyslexia and who have specialist qualifications for this type of work. If there is no Statement of Special Educational Needs the learner may still be included for learning support in and /or out of class, but again this is unlikely to be with a specialist dyslexia teacher.
By the time the dyslexic learner gets to secondary school they may well be falling further behind their peers in a wider range of subjects where reading, writing and spelling are also important. Sadly, most secondary schools also lack specialist staff, which limits the degree of help they can provide. One-to-one tuition with a specialist dyslexia teacher is likely to produce much more permanent improvements.
At school or college, following an exam adjustments assessment, it may be possible for extra time and other forms of assistance (such as the use of a word processor, text to speech software, a question reader) to be granted, though late application can mean these forms of assistance are not granted in time. Although these adjustments will help the dyslexic learner, the full benefit is unlikely to be gained if specialist support for dyslexia is not sought. Learners need practice in how these aids can be used to best effect.