I'm concerned about my child's academic progress at school. What can I do?

May 16, 2023
I'm concerned about my child's academic progress at school. What can I do?

I’m concerned about my child’s academic progress at school. What can I do?

We offer assessments and intervention for learning difficulties at SPELD SA but how do you navigate to the service you need?

The next step could be an academic assessment OR a consultation and planning session OR both.  While our team of psychologists offer comprehensive assessments, which sometimes leads to a formal diagnosis, we also offer more focused academic assessments, which are designed to provide a detailed summary of a students’ academic skill level, and to identify well targeted strategies that will support their ongoing learning.

Let’s talk about Academic Skills Assessments and Educational Consultations.

What can I expect if I make an appointment for an Academic Skills Assessment at SPELD SA?

There are times when families, or schools, or families in consultation with schools, are concerned about a student’s academic levels, but are unsure of exactly what those levels are, and then not sure what to do with that information. We can provide an Academic Skills Assessment which is 1-2 hour appointment where we meet with the child and their parent or caregiver and the session is tailored to the child’s age and stage of academic development.

Assessments can be offered in Literacy or Numeracy – or both.

A Literacy Assessment typically investigates the student’s skills in the areas of phonological awareness and phoneme (letter sound) knowledge, spelling, reading (including comprehension) and writing.

Numeracy Assessments are conducted using the Maths Assessment Interview tool, and addresses areas including counting, place value, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, time and measurement.

After a discussion with the students’ caregiver/s, the Assessment is conducted at the SPELD SA Centre at Frewville by an experienced educator with Special Education qualifications.  A Literacy Assessment typically takes two hours (depending on the age of the child), and a Numeracy Assessment takes approximately one hour.

The student and the caregivers are provided with feedback in a conversation with the assessor – generally at a follow-up appointment, and a comprehensive written Report (including suggestions for “next steps”) is provided. 

What can I expect if I make an appointment for an Educational Consultation at SPELD SA?

An Educational Consultation provides families with an opportunity to explore the possibilities for their child.  Talking with an experienced educator can often help clarify the issues and assist in determining “next steps”.

Some families have a feeling that their child is not thriving at school and are not sure how to either approach their child’s teacher, or how to find out if their feelings are justified.

Some families know that their child has a definite academic difficulty but are not sure what to do or where to go.

Below, we share some of our families’ experiences, who’ve we helped recently.

Liam’s* family’s experience – which school will be best?

The parents of a Year 5 student Liam* were aware that he had Dyslexia and were very concerned about selecting the “right school” for his secondary education.

Sitting down with the Consultant and talking through their concerns, helped these parents to identify what they were most concerned about – doing their best to ensure that the next school would be a “good fit” and that it would give their son the best foundations for his future.

The student already had a formal diagnosis of Dyslexia.  The parents were encouraged to identify which schools were geographically and financially feasible, and the Consultant and parents then collaboratively developed a set of questions that would help them determine which school/s would best meet their child’s needs.

Talking all this through with the SPELD SA Consultant gave the parents confidence to ask the necessary questions.  They were encouraged to be honest in the information shared with the prospective schools about their son’s learning needs and their consequent expectations. The parents were also encouraged to think hard about their priorities.  After several visits to a number of feasible options, the parents, in consultation with Liam, were delighted with their final decision – and we are delighted to report that their considered choice has proven to be working out very well!

Oliver’s* family’s experience – getting extra help at school

Oliver’s* parents were aware that he was lagging behind what they believed to be adequate progress.  Given that Oliver’s father had learning difficulties at school, they were keen to ensure that their son did not face the sense of failure and embarrassment that his father had faced.

By talking with the Consultant, a pathway became clear.  Whilst the child’s school reports were showing his progress to be within the low average band, and he was therefore not eligible for any targeted support at school, the parents agreed that a formal Academic Skills Assessment (provided by SPELD SA) would provide both them and the school with a clear picture of the child’s current capabilities in Literacy and Numeracy and pinpoint specific areas requiring targeting. 

As a result of this assessment, the school agreed for a private tutor to work with the child on-site (in collaboration with his classroom teacher) each week – targeting areas of challenge. In the fullness of time, this child may well be diagnosed as having a specific learning difficulty (such as dyslexia) but in the meantime, he is becoming increasingly confident in his learning and school is no longer the dreaded place it used to be for him.

*Names have been changed for anonymity.

Find out more about Educational Consultations – how to book an appointment and fees applicable by phoning SPELD SA on 8431 1655.

Jill Bosanquet, SPELD SA Educational Consultant

DipT,  Adv Dip (Sp Ed)  B Ed(Sp Ed) M Ed St

Jill initially trained as a Junior Primary teacher and thoroughly enjoyed classroom teaching.  Her interest in children who learned differently led to further tertiary studies and eventually a career with independent schools in South Australia as a consultant working across the state, supporting schools and families. She then was pleased to have the opportunity to lead the ELC and Junior School at St John’s Grammar at Belair and, after 12 years in that role, Jill moved to Caulfield Grammar School in Melbourne where she led the Malvern Campus (ELC-Year 6) for 9 years.

Jill enjoys her role at SPELD SA, her work on various boards and as an Educational Consultant to schools across Australia – and especially spending time with her three precious grandsons!