(Well, I think we probably would, due to their similarly inept handling of my younger son's different educational needs, and my older daughter's need to go to the toilet - denied, at 6 years old, until she had to pee on the floor.) But the dyslexia thing was a key catalyst for the decision to deregister.
Reading this news story has brought it all back to me. But our dyslexia issues came to a head with the school in 1998 and 1999 - all documented and sent with the appropriate evidence to the then Secretary of State for Education (David Blunkett) and I'm sure I can't have been the only parent to have done that. It's been common knowledge amongst dyslexia experts for years and years that, for example, juvenile prison populations have an alarmingly high rate of dyslexia (about which more later). So why have the powers that be decided to address it in 2008, having studiously ignored it for so long?
Even now, people sometimes try to tell me that dyslexia doesn't really exist, as Tom's schoolteacher did. They imagine it's an excuse for the pampered children of paranoid, pushy parents, to cop out of making an effort to do the work. That's exactly how his teacher worded it to me. And the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator confidently informed me that she'd assessed him and found no trace of dyslexia. But she had no specialised knowledge in the field, other than her teaching degree and 'lots of experience'.
And yet the school was telling me: "We can't understand it. We know he's intelligent from the way he contributes to discussions. But he just won't do the writing or learn his spellings." He was 10 years old and could explain the theory of relativity, but was unable to spell Thomas, his own name.
The school had him labelled as a disruptive pupil. My Tom, who wouldn't upset anyone! Ali was the disruptive one. He'd upset anyone if he thought it was justified. But not Tom. They thought he was being rebellious and pretending he couldn't do the work, when he really could. But they'd send his work home and I knew, from working with him at the kitchen table in the evenings, that he wasn't capable of doing what they asked of him.
If I didn't have Ali, a non-dyslexic to compare him with, I might have believed them. That argument (made always by people who do not have dyslexic children) that it's some kind of a scam, a convenient label, does have a logical sort of attractiveness. I kept an open mind. I wasn't trying to kid myself.
But the school was determined to force him to comply with its requirements. He was kept in during breaktimes and every sanction was used against him, to try to break his 'obsinacy'. They set him apart, repeatedly told him he was badly behaved for 'refusing' to comply and effectively criminalised him. If Tom's life had continued along that path I think he might well have become one of those juvenile prison statistics, because he was starting to become what they were accusing him of.
I scraped enough money together for a private diagnosis by an educational psychologist who found Tom to be profoundly dyslexic but with a high IQ. She said it was surprising he'd learned to read and write at all and, after she'd shown me examples of how dyslexic people see text, I agreed. She produced a 15-page report, which the school refused to even read. "If you pay someone to find something wrong with your child, they will find it," said the teacher.
This was the point at which I realised I had to give up my training and teaching career, deregister Tom and home educate him. I didn't see that he had any chance of surviving with his mental health - let alone his non-criminal status - intact if he stayed in the system. It's been the very best decision for all of us (Ali and Zara soon opted to leave school too.) Tom can read and write quite well now and has acquired enough techniques and tools along the way to be able to function effectively in the text-based world in which we live. Above all, he has his confidence and the knowledge that he's not a liar or a deliberate trouble-causer or a lazy person. Because he's not - he's one of the most honest and hard-working people I know.
Our story is by no means unusual. Dyslexia is real and is at the root of many of our social problems, I think, in school-based societies which relentlessly try force square pegs through round holes. To anyone who's had any experience of trying to help a person with dyslexia, the problem is blatantly obvious. I'm very glad if it's now being addressed properly, if indeed it is. I'm just wondering why it took so long.