Dyslexia Assessments for Kids U.K - Top Questions Answered by Expert

Answering all the top questions you may have about dyslexia tests for children. During the on-line "Dyslexia Mum" community meet-up, I was joined by Katie Burt, from Evolve Dyslexia Solutions. Below are her answers to questions about formal dyslexia assessments.

Katie is available for dyslexia assessment bookings for children. Contact her at Evolve Dyslexia Solutions with any enquiries.

About Katie Burt Evolve Dyslexia Solutions

I am a qualified specialist, dyslexia teacher and assessor. I'm also a qualified primary school teacher. So I've worked in schools as a teacher and a teaching assistant for approximately 14 years, and during that time I've worked with lots of children with dyslexia, autism, ADHD, PDA, and lots of other additional needs.

I've also got lots of personal experience with dyslexia. My own 3 children who have a combination of dyslexia, autism, and ADHD. And I'm also dyslexic and autistic myself, which I think is actually really important. Because I understand the children and I also understand from the parents point of view, how it feels when you're getting your child diagnosed with dyslexia.

Does my child need an assessment?

The first thing to do is quite important, go and chat to your childs teacher. This could be during parents evening, or you might book a separate appointment or catch them after school. It's important to see what they've noticed and if they have noticed that your child is struggling. Maybe with spelling, writing or reading or that your child is a long way behind other children within the class.

The Dyslexia Association have got a particularly good checklist on their website that's split into preschool age, primary, secondary, and adults. It is a good list to look at and a good indication that an assessment may be necessary.

Struggling Child

Is your child complaining at home, saying that they behind, and not doing as well as the children in their class. How does your children feel? Are they really upset about reading or writing, or spelling? Are they upset that they have spelling tests and they keep getting them wrong? Have a chat with your child about how they feel about classwork.

Screening Tests

Lots of schools do tend to do dyslexic screening tests, or they tell parents to go and get a screening. They're often quite unreliable. I've seen many where they say that the child has a very low possibility of being dyslexic, and actually, that they are dyslexic.

There's a few reasons for this, one is that it's not done by a specialist teacher in class. Secondly there is a chance that some children just literally just keep clicking the button just to get through it quickly. Obviously they can also guess, so they could get higher grades than actually is their real attainment.

Before the Assessment

Once you've decided that an assessment is a good idea. Before the assessment you expect all assessors to send out a questionnaire for home and for school.

They should cover a few things:

  • School History - So this would be things like, for example, if they are in Key Stage 2. It could be, how did they do in Key Stage 1.
  • School Attendance - Would include things like attendance. So, for example, if a child had a medical condition and missed a lot of reception class. This is quite important, because sometimes a child may have a health condition that is actually causing the difficulties. For example difficulties hearing will affect their literacy attainments.
  • Other Neuro-diversities - It can be common to have another neuro-diversity along with dyslexia. So normally, questionnaires would go out for these. If there are signs of other learning difficulties, a referral can be made for this.
  • Eye tests - A eye test is really important, to have an up to date one before the assessment. If the child can't read prop can't see properly. This is going to affect them within the classroom and during the actual assessment.

Where does the assessment take place? 

This is very different for each assessor. I've got a classroom at the bottom of my garden, where I do all my assessing. It means I've got no distractions at all, no children, no animals coming in, other people do it differently. Some assessors will go into school and do it. Some will do it at the child's house. Since Covid, it's now the option of doing it online, and many assessments will be done online.

How long does the assessment take?

  • It takes approximately 3 hr. But it does really depend. If the child does particularly well, it will be quicker. I
  • During the assessment, there are lots of different parts. Including reading, and that's reading passages, reading of single words, also spelling tests, writing.
  • There may be a maths test, if Maths is a difficulty. There is also a test that involves repeating patterns, problem solving and puzzles. Which is generally quite popular with the children.

Visual Timetable

When I assess I have a visual timetable again. Different assessors may not do this, but I think it's quite important for the children to see how they're doing. We then put smiley faces on to show that they've completed a section.


I always offer breaks, generally 3 to 4 breaks. Some children choose not to have any, to work through and finish quicker. 15, 16 year old's have chosen to do that. Most of the time the breaks are really popular, it's a long time to sit down. 

The breaks are a nice time to get to know the child. We sometimes play games, hungry hippos or connect 4. Some children enjoyed drawing. but the thing that's most popular is that I have lots of animals. I find that children normally enjoy feeding and stroking them.

When do I get the report? 

This varies a lot for different assessments. I always say up to 2 weeks, generally it's quicker than that. But I say, 2 weeks. The longest I've heard is 6 weeks, it really depends on the assessor.

What is in the report?

The report will contain a clear decision, saying whether your child is or is not dyslexic. It will explain the reasons why or why not. It will then go into detail about their ability. So their strengths and difficulties within visual ability and verbal ability. Memory is often a difficulty with dyslexia. So there's a section about memory, their working memory and short term memory. Then their attainment. So this covers reading, writing, spelling, possibly maths.


  • Even if your child comes out not being dyslexic, the recommendations will be really important. So this includes a section for the school, a section for small group work, or one to one work and a section for home. It has all the different things that can be done in those areas to help your child. These are all based individually on your child.
  • Recommendations in the report will be individual for the child. Including things like exam access arrangements. So like extra time in exams, a reader and assisted technology. Other suggestions maybe using laptops within the classroom for reading and lots of other things.
  • It will also include any referral for other co-occourring difficulties. So I mentioned earlier the ADHD, autism and other neuro-diversities can occur alongside dyslexia.
  • According to the disability law, schools have to do what they can to support children with special educational needs. Normally following recommendations in a dyslexia report. There will be quite a few of them and the schools won't necessarily be able to do all of them.
  • I would always recommend sending the report to the school. Giving them maybe a couple of weeks to look through the report, and then asking to have a meeting with them. Then I would sit down with them and discuss and say, Which ones are these you can do? Some of them will be easy things that they should be doing that they can do within the class, that don't cost an extra money or time.
  • Quite often a report might say something like use a laptop. Nearly all schools have lots of laptops, so they should be able to do that. I have heard of some schools saying, no, they can't. But if they say that, I would really question that.
  • Keep communicating with the school and get as much as you can. Some schools are better than others at providing what the child needs.

Transition to High School

If your child's going to the transition to maybe a junior school or high school. It's important to look around different ones before and take the report with you and speak to the same code. Then you can get a good idea before signing up to a particular school, of what things that they are likely to do and how they will support your child.

Do schools fund the dyslexia assessment?

It does depend slightly on where you live. There are limited budgets in schools and it's becoming less and less common that schools do the assessments. Sometimes they will get in a specialist teacher to do an assessment. But it's not actually a diagnostic assessment.

Sometimes people are lucky, and they do get the school to fund an assessment. Yet the wait can be quite long.

It is always worth asking your school if they will fund an assessment. If they do, check that it is a full diagnostic assessment. Yet generally more and more often it has to be done privately.

Why do only certain schools fund Dyslexia Assessments?

School budgets are worked out by the number of pupils, and they are given a set amount per pupil. Each local authority does it slightly differently. But there will be an SEN budget. Generally that's not based on the number of children with an SEN condition at the school.

Schools do have an amount of money to put towards assessments. The problem is generally there are a lot of children with needs. So the school ends up having to go to fund things for those most in need.

How to explain to a child why they are being assessed, in a positive way?

Children don't generally ask me why they are being assessed. If they did, I would say, you're seeing someone who is going to help your school teachers. So they know how to help you learn, to give you help with reading and spelling. It's quite a personal thing, and some parents will choose to tell their children others don't. That's why I never mentioned it in an assessment

Do schools recognise the recommendations of a private assessment?

There is nothing legal saying that the schools have to do everything on a dyslexia assessment report. Yet schools have to do everything, if a child has got any ECHP.

Learn more about ECHP Plans at the Dyslexia Association.

What is the likelihood of ADHD, Autism, Dyspraxia, sitting along Dyslexia?

Adhd, alongside dyslexia is something like 40%. Autism, Dyspraxia is possibly about the same. I do see a couple of people with just Dyspraxia, but not many. ADHD seems to be the most common, then next followed by autism. Obviously there are many people who have just got dyslexia.

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