Definitions of Assessments

You do not need a Formal Diagnosis to explain why younger children are struggling in the classroom unless their abilities to learn are complex or extreme. 

A Diagnostic Assessor is the unquestionable go-to if a child has severe or complex learning difficulties...however a Diagnostic Assessor has also become the only available option if a child is struggling in the Primary classroom, losing confidence and they’re not keeping up with their peers - this is because there has not been an alternative educational assessment provision for much younger children until now.


Diagnostic Assessors are either an Educational Psychologist who have a degree in Psychology first or an OCR Level 7 Dip.

An OCR L7 assessor could be anyone that has completed two previous OCR Dip. courses from any previous type of employment. A Diagnostic Assessor does not have to have been a qualified teacher or to have had previous experience working in education. 

They both administer their own selection of licensed psychometric tests in order to assess specific cognitive functions of the child to help determine a formal diagnosis of whether they have a specific learning difficulty. Educational Psychologists have access to different types of *cognitive ability tests that Level 7 Assessors are not able to use, so they can be more suitable for those with complex learning differences.

An evaluation is made of a child’s knowledge and skills in learning and cognitive ability using a selection of licensed psychometric tests and educational assessment methods, so that a programme of support can be put in place by school.

Their multi-page reports will outline if a child is **dyslexic or not; it may show areas of strengths and weaknesses; awareness, information handling, attention, phonological processing, visual motor integration, memory and reasoning, thinking, remembering, knowing, judging and problem-solving, provide a clearer indication of a child's intellectual development and they will offer suggestions on how a school can best support that child.


Depending on their findings, it may be used to support an application for Access Arrangements

in public examinations, to support an Educational Health Care Plan from a Local Authority or to support disciplinary/dismissal or tribunal activities.  

For many younger Primary children, using the same battery of diagnostic tests can lead to vague results - often without a formal diagnosis - nor specific teaching direction.

*Cognitive ability is defined as a general mental capability involving reasoning, problem solving, planning, abstract thinking, complex idea comprehension and learning from experience (Gottfredson, 1997)

**The average dyslexic child does not qualify for specialist help under the Special Educational Needs Act 2001 if they sit within the mild-moderate range of the dyslexia spectrum.

Assessments vs. Screening

by The British Dyslexia Association

'The only way that dyslexia can be formally identified is by a Diagnostic Assessment for Dyslexia carried out by a qualified assessor. Screening tests can be a really useful tool as long as they are carried out with the understanding that they can only give an indication of possible dyslexic difficulties.


There are many different types of screening tests; some have to be carried out by a trained SENCo whereas others can be taken online. The BDA would always advise that if a screening test indicates that there is a moderate to high probability of dyslexic difficulties that this is followed up with a Diagnostic Assessment. This assessment will determine the precise nature of the difficulties, and how they can best be supported.'

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Selected key findings: COVID-19-related disruption has negatively impacted the attainment of all pupils, particularly those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.

  • There is evidence that the attainment gap between socially disadvantaged pupils and their classmates has grown.

  • There is some evidence that in primary schools, younger year groups (Key Stage 1 pupils) have been the most significantly affected, with lower attainment than previous cohorts across all subjects.

  • Most evidence shows that despite some recovery by summer 2021, on average, pupils were not performing as well in both maths and reading as pre-pandemic cohorts.

  • Aside from the impact on attainment, which this report focuses on, teachers have frequently reported concerns around the effect on pupil wellbeing. There is also emerging evidence that suggests the pandemic has had a negative impact on children’s mental health.


Pupils with SEND:

There is some qualitative evidence that the provision for children with special education needs or disabilities (SEND) and their families was disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 lockdowns (Ofsted, 2021). There
is limited evidence on the impact on the attainment of pupils with SEND. There is some evidence to indicate that children with SEND’s academic outcomes were affected as much as those of other pupils
(DfE, 2021).