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Burnham Park Academy accused of failing to test pupils for dyslexia

Burnham Park Academy accused of failing to test pupils for dyslexia

Katie Mercer

Burnham Park Academy accused of failing to test pupils for dyslexia

Pupils at Burnham Park Academy are being let down by the management’s ‘refusal’ to test for dyslexia, according to a borough councillor, a former teacher and a relative of an ex-pupil.

Steven Gillingwater, the former UKIP chairman for the Slough branch who has since defected to the Tories, says that the school refused to test his 13-year-old younger brother, Jamie, last year. 

Steven, 25, who lives in Tennyson Way, said: “Jamie, was having problems at school – getting distracted from his work and getting into trouble.

“Our parents were called in but because I have dyslexia, I had already recognised the signs in Jamie so I went up to meet with them.

“I asked them if they had tested him for dyslexia and said I was convinced he had it and they said they had not and that they would not. They said it was not their policy to test just because parents and family have concerns. They would only test if a teacher spotted it.”

Steven said Jamie left the school to join Beechwood where teachers flagged up signs of dyslexia and tested him for the condition within the first three weeks.

“He’s doing so much better now. His behaviour has improved and he is performing well,” Steven added.

“At Burnham Park they put Jamie in isolation and separated him from the rest of the students rather than trying to help him. To me, it’s like Nazism – they’re trying to isolate and segregate any child who might be a bit more of a challenge to teach.”

Slough Labour councillor Preston Brooker, cabinet member for education, said his daughter was treated in the same way at Burnham Park in 2013.

“My daughter was an above average student when she started at Burnham Park and was expected to get As throughout her school life.

“She started under-performing and was struggling with certain subjects but the teachers just moved her down a set rather than try to figure out what the problem was.

“After years of struggle, Amy told me ‘words were bouncing around on the page’ when she read.

“I’m dyslexic and that was a clear sign to me she was too. I could not believe she had not been tested in all her years at the school.

“Surely they should be able to see the signs? It’s a disgrace.”

Burnham Park Academy is run by E-Act, a chain of academy schools that was last year criticised for allegedly having deducted pupil premium cash before it reached schools.

A former Burnham Park teacher, who did not want to be named, contacted the Advertiser about his concerns.

He said: “I noticed a number of children showing signs of dyslexia but when I went to senior management to ask about testing, it was shrugged off. 

“They are letting the children down, as with support these students would perform much better.”

Headteacher Russell Denial, who joined the school in September 2014, said: “Burnham Park is committed to ensuring the individual needs of its pupils are assessed, diagnosed and the appropriate provisions are put in place to ensure their specific needs are met and they can reach their full potential.”

He continued: “While we cannot comment on individual cases, assessments are carried out regularly by an independent, highly qualified professional with extensive experience in the field of cognitive learning.”

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