Extra exam time more likely for private pupils, new figures show | UK | News

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Private school children are 50 percent more likely to be given extra time in exams due to learning difficulties than their state school peers, figures show.

Pupils are given more time if they can demonstrate they are disadvantaged by conditions such as dyslexia, ADHD and autism.

But the number of children given the allowance is on the rise – prompting fears some parents are trying to “game” the system.

According to exam regulator Ofqual, the number of qualifying has risen from 135,200 in 2012 to 334,375 last year. The data also shows children in private schools are benefiting most.

In 2019, 17 percent of state pupils received extra time compared with 27 percent in private schools. Last year this rose to 22.7 percent of state students and 35.8 percent of private pupils.

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Experts believe wealthier parents may be paying for private assessments and gaining a possibly unfair advantage.

On Sunday, the Campaign for Real Education, which seeks higher standards, will send a letter to Education Secretary Gillian Keegan to pass on its concerns.

The letter highlights anecdotal reports of students deliberately “failing” dyslexia and “speed of processing” tests to qualify for extra time.

It states: “It is grossly unfair and dishonest when schools and parents seek to benefit pupils through fake claims.

“Attaining good exam results for their child is a great incentive for pushy parents to game the system and become cheats. Nor is it unusual for schools and teachers to be compliant or, even, to encourage such cheating since they, too, are judged by exam results.”

The letter adds: “All of this is an educational and social scandal that favours savvy and pushy ‘haves’ over non-pushy ‘have-nots’.

“If the Government is serious about its ‘levelling-up’ agenda it needs to wake up to what is going on behind the closed doors of our schools.”

Chris McGovern, chair of the pressure group, said: “I shall be passing on our concerns to Gillian Keegan. She needs to act now.”

He added: “Children from wealthier backgrounds have an advantage when they seek entry into the special-needs category because their parents have the time and resources which poorer parents simply cannot afford.”

But the Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents the major exam boards, said: “JCQ has rigorous processes to protect the integrity of exams, and students need to meet the published criteria.”

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