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Winser v Devon County Council, High Court, Exeter District Registry, January 2009

2 February 2009
The issues

Whether there was an obligation on a school to place a dyslexic child with a high IQ as assessed on an IQ test in the top academic sets in his school, or whether the school was entitled to set according to their perception of his functioning ability.
Whether the Claimant’s poor behaviour and disappointing examination results were caused by inadequately remediated dyslexia.

The facts

The Claimant had a very high IQ score. He also had dyslexia, although there was an issue as to its severity. He was placed middle sets by his school, where he achieved at about the middle of his class groupings. He alleged however that his intellect was such that he should have been placed in top sets and given whatever additional assistance as was required in those sets to overcome the handicap presented by his dyslexia. He claimed that instead he became bored and frustrated at school, leading to his complete disengagement in his GCSE years. He claimed that the school’s special educational needs coordinator and an educational psychologist who assessed him on a number of occasions were negligent.

The decision

HHJ Griggs sitting as a deputy of the High Court dismissed the claim. The Claimant’s dyslexia was not severe. Further, there was a body of educational opinion whose view was that you make provision for pupils not in accordance with their perceived potential ability but in accordance with their actual functioning. IQ tests do not by themselves predict academic attainment. The Claimant’s principal problem whilst at school was a lack of motivation for his studies. The link between his dyslexia and poor behaviour and academic failure was not established.

Our thanks to Andrew Warnock of 1 Chancery Lane who appeared for the Defendant and who produced this note.

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