Friday, 19 August 2016

My Arrangements + supports in Education

this blog post is going to go through the arrangements/provisions and supports that i have had throughout all my time in education.
starting with primary school has i mentioned in the primary school experience blog i was not diagnosed until after my primary years so i had very little/no support although my mum has told me i was put into the all the programs and lower level classes for special needs however as i mentioned in the previous blog (which you can find here my year 3 teacher was the only and first teacher in primary school who focused on the quality and content of the work rather than the handwriting or presentation whereas most other teachers did not bother marking the work if they were unable to read it.
in term of middle school (yr5-yr8) it was in year 6 that i was diagnosed with Dyspraxia however i still dont recall having many supports in place, i do remember an attempt at having a scribe (where you say the answer and the scribe then writes it down) at this point having a scribe didn't work i dont think i was comfortable having to say my answers out loud and it also makes kit slightly harder if you need to make notes or if its a long answer as you might forget some of it before the scribe has had a chance to write it all down but other than that attempt at having a scribe i dont remember any other special provision in place or attempted throughout the 4 years of middle school.
for high school and college (yr9 - yr11 + post 16/sixth form) my school attempted a few different supports the first of which i can remember was a word processor which i liked but it wasn't totally effective due to temperamental technology and because i wasn't good or fast at typing. the next attempt was having a transcribe for exams (which means that i sat the exam normally on my own then after the transcribe would come in and rewrite the bits that they were felt would be too difficult to read after i told them what was written down) i preferred this as i was able to focus on the exam however this became quite time consuming especially as the transcribe would do it on their own to prevent me from missing lessons although there was one point the entire english department weer unable to read my writing so they had to get me from the lesson i was in this eventually led to me having a scribe again at this point it did seem to work better than when i was in middle school possibly because i had the same scribe for all of my exams and someone i knew from lessons (a TA from the english department) this continued throughout the rest of my time at that school so through to sixth form/college.
at university the supports in place were mostly products that were received as a part of disabled students allowance (DSA) the equipment that i received was a dictaphone, laptop and standwith a laptop bag, a printer, keyboard and mouse also installed on the laptop was some software including audio notetaker for the dictaphone for recording of lectures and seminars dragon naturally speaking which allows you to speak and the software did the typing on to the laptop however i struggled with this as it couldnt understand my voice and as you have to train it to understand your voice by reading to it which i never really had enough time to do alongside this software for the first few weeks (i think) you also have training/tutoring on how to use all of the equipment (i never got used dragon naturally speaking however) especially the software based ones which can take a little bit of time to get used to. DSA also pays for the tutoring from within the university and their disability support department and for most of my time at uni i wasnt clear on what exactly i could go to them for most of the time it was just proof reading essays it wasnt until my dissertation in my third year that i had help that included planning and the layout of the work i also feel like there may have been more included in that but it was never made clear exactly what 'services' were 'offered' or in place.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Education Part 4 (University)

this post is the final part (sort of) of this series of blogs about my experiences during education and at the moment university as an undergraduate is my last experience of education (it could change i may do a postgraduate course).
university is obviously quite different than compulsory education and even further education and in many cases it also involves living independently which was the case for me as i moved over 100 miles away from Kent to Southampton and i studies Football studies (yes it is a real course) at Southampton Solent University which is in the city centre. i think ive mentioned previously that as a part of living independantly at university i used to have a day which i did all the cleaning, washing up and laundry etc. although over time this changed quite a bit and became quite difficult due to other commitments (sports and uni work) especially throughout the later part of my 2nd year and my 3rd year. i also lived in student accomadation (shared flats) throughout all 3 years of my time at university which i think was probably a lot easier than having to find a student house to rent and share, im not aware of the reason (if there was any) for why i got a place in student accommadation for my 2nd and 3rd year there is a possibility it that it was due to dyspraxia but i cant be certain.
At the moment i currently look back on my time at university (its been just over a year now) as ok but nit brilliant or good im not certain as to why it may be that course wasnt right for me as i only liked a few of the topics that were covered this could change over time, it may have been different 4/5 years ago when i chose that course initially but at the moment i look at back the only stand out really good thing about my time at uni was a doing a handball coaching course and becoming involved with the Handball team at the University of Southampton over the rest of my time at uni and that has led to me doing some handball coaching and refereeing when ive come back home (which i find a bit ironic considering what i studied).
in term of actual university work and lectures etc. much of it was quite dull, i wasnt brilliant or terrible at any of it i always managed to get it done in time im not sure how with some of it and there was even some issues during my 3rd year so i had to change what my entire dissertation was going to focus on (and i know some people who will be reading this will have taken part in the survey about sports participation amongst dyspraxics so thank you).
as soon as i finished my uni work i went straight into all the details for my charity cycle ride for dyspraxia awareness.
at the present time overall university for me still feels like an ok option as i dont know what i would have done if i didn't go to uni and i may consider doing a postgraduate degree if i can find one that i like however some advice i would give to people looking  at going to university or going a different route is to spend quite a bit of time really thinking about the options that you have (especially if your school was/is anything like mine where everything was aimed at university and very rarely spoke about the other options in any depth) and then if you decide to go to university spend as much time as possible looking at every course you like the sound of and compare them all to each other and look at everything about the course (as courses with the same title can be very very different from each other) , the university and the area it is in especially if you were to be able to move away from home  

Friday, 5 August 2016

Education Part 3 (high school and sixth form)

hopefully this post from my education experiences will be slightly longer than the previous two as i should be able to remember more from high school and sixth.
for me this was probable the best school that i had attended in terms of the provisions i required due to dyspraxia.
starting in year 9 i can remember using a word processor (keyboard with a small screen)that was connected to certain infared printers in the school like this

this did not really work for me at the time as i was not the best at typing or a particular fast typer.
then during year 9 i retook all of my SAT's exams again (not really sure why as id did well on most of them in year 8) and for these exams i had a transcribe so i would do the exam myself and at the end a teaching assistant would read through it and re-write the bits that they were unable to read after i told them what it said at first i would stay in the exam hall with the TA but then after a while i would go to my next lesson and the teacher/TA would then do it on their own which proved unsuccessful as they were unable to read my handwriting so i would be taken out of lessons to translate which then eventually led to me having a scribe so i would say the answer and the scribe would then write it down which i have had for every exam since then.
also another good thing about the school was my form (a 20-30min lesson everyday prior to lunchtime) teacher who it think may have been one of the 'specialists' for students with learning difficulties had a family member who was also dyspraxic.
to quickly talk about my GCSE's i mentioned that i had a scribe for all of my exams or handwriting assignments apart from french for some reason however moving on to my option subjects which i had 3 which for me were sports studies, geography and french alongside the compulsory lessons such as english, science, match, ICT and the two subject which had no exams or tests which were PE and ethics and i can remember when it came to choosing my options sports studies was the only subject which i actually wanted to do eventually just because i had to choose to other subjects i ended up choosing to do french (which i only chose because at the time my uncle lived in France) and geography (which i ended up enjoying). almost forgot that near the end of year 10 my english teacher kept me in at the end of the lesson to try and teach me how to write E's which makes up half of my name so if i hadnt been able to write the letter E by the age of 15 there was no way he was going to be able to teach me in 5mins.

when it came to choosing whether to go to sixth form/college either at the school i was already at or at another school or a college i did look into going to the local high schools sixth form (as i went to a school between 30min+1hr away from home) but i (and my mum) quite quickly decided on going to the sixth form at the school i was at due to the support they had provided throughout my time at that school and i ended up doing sports studies and science although i stopped science after the first year as i wasnt enjoying all of it or doing that well and to focus on doing my best at sports studies

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Education Part 2 (middle school)

part 2 of my experiences of education focusing on middle schools. i am aware that thismay not be relatable for many people as i went through the three tier system which is briefly explained in the previous post.
however this was probable one of the most important periods of my life to date because it was in year 6 (2nd year of middle school) that i got my diagnosis of dyspraxia which according to my mum had a large impact on me as prior to that i was an angry child.
i almost forgot year 5 the start of middle school i had to learn how to do a tie and this will probably the angry pre-diagnosis side of myself i remember getting frustrated that i was struggling to tie the tie and ended up doing it wrong and pulled it on really tight (so much so that i couldnt actually undo it) and my parents thought i was choking myself when i was actually trying to snap it off my neck.
prior to my SAT's in year 8 was the first time i had any experience of special provisions in placve which was having a scribe and at that time it did not seem to work and i dont think that school tried anything other than a scribe so that when it came to actually taking my SAT's im dont believe i had any special provisions in place for my exams like scribe/transcribe or even extra time.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Education Part 1 (primary school)

this post is the first in a 4 or 5 part series of blogs in which i will share my experiences of education.

first i am going to say that i went threw the 3 tier education system in the UK (primary school reception to yr4, middle school yr5-yr8, high school yr9-yr11 to sixth form yr12+yr13) and then went to university for 3 years to now (1year after finishing uni)

for this particular post i want to try and cover my primary school experience or at least try to. the few things that i can remember from my primary school is having the same teacher for everything only changing each year and that was probably not a good thing as i dont think any of my teachers were aware of what dyspraxia is and i know my mum has said that they were not very good at supporting the needs that i had even though i did not have a diagnosis of dyspraxia at anytime throughout my primary school years.

however the biggest standout memory of my primary school experience was when i was in year 3 and the biggest aspect of my dyspraxia was my very poor handwriting however during year 3 i had a teacher (happened to be the first male teacher i ever had) who did not care about the appearance of my handwriting and focused on the quality of the work, i believe he said something along the lines of i don't care how good your writing is i just want to see what it is that you can write. and this made a big difference as it meant i didn't have to focus on making my writing legible (or less ineligible) and i could focus on doing and completing the work.