June 5 Letters: Forcing students to make the grade is doomed to failure

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From: Sally Brown, Dunford Road, Holmfirth.

From: Sally Brown, Dunford Road, Holmfirth.

Is it right to make children keep taking exams, past the age of 16, in the hope that they will attain a GCSE grade C in maths and English?

My daughter is 18 and has dyscalculia, dyspraxia and mild dyslexia. While she has managed to attain grade Cs in her English (and is going on to university to study screenwriting) her dyscalculia is so bad that no amount of additional tutoring has made any difference.

We paid £100 a month for three years through a recognised educational agency for extra maths lessons.

The end result? My daughter got literally no marks at all in her maths GCSE mock exam.

She was so upset that I refused to enter her for the actual exam – why would you put a child through that?

Dyscalculia is a common, but little recognised, learning difficulty.

It is basically an inability to understand numbers and it affects a lot of children and even some celebrities (ask Lenny Henry).

It’s a bit like asking the average Joe Bloggs in the street to read hieroglyphics – they just wouldn’t get it – and my daughter feels like this about numbers.

She still counts on her fingers, can’t tell the time, and has difficulty differentiating between £5, £50 and £500.

But if you ask her to present a live community radio show she doesn’t bat an eyelid.

She’s not stupid, she just has a specific difficulty which few institutions recognise – even her Year 7 maths teacher at High School had never heard of it.

Similarly a friend’s 16-year-old son has crippling dyslexia but knows that he will not be able to do the course he longs to take at college, in animal welfare, if he doesn’t make that “C” in English Language.

Isn’t it time that this Government took a long hard look at some of the exceptions to the rule and encouraged a wider debate about the relevance of pushing failing students to keep studying maths and English beyond the age of 16?

From: Mrs M W Whitaker, Harswell, East Yorkshire.

here is another piece of advice for Andrew Vine to chew over (The Yorkshire Post, May 26).

A local butcher has chickens for sale, and underneath the recommended fridge temperature are printed the words “cook before eating”. It has bothered me for some time; one wonders what type of carnivores are infiltrating our borders.