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Nearly one in five pupils get extra time in exams, watchdog finds

Posted on: 2018-11-22 18:45:00

18.4 per cent of all students were awarded 25 per cent extra time
18.4 per cent of all students were awarded 25 per cent extra time

In the most recent series of GCSE and A-level exams, 18.4 per cent of all students were awarded 25 per cent extra time.

Requests for extra time have soared in recent years and Ofqual, the exams watchdog, said that it is concerned by the rise. 

Andrew Harland, Director, International Exam Officers’ Association, said that the axing of module and retakes has increased the stakes of exams.

“Students who are less capable can’t retake and retake,” he said. “Now you have a one hit chance. There are obvious issues about the fact people are trying to get the best results they can for their students. The access arrangement mechanism is one way to do this.”

Schools can apply to the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) to request extra time for a student on a variety on grounds. These include learning difficulties, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or a mental health condition .

Figures from Ofqual show that 25 per cent extra time is the most popular form of special dispensation for exams,  and has increased by 43 per cent over the past five years. Other forms of access arrangement can include having a reader, scribe, an exam printed on coloured paper, or computer assistance.

Mr Harland said that students are being given extra time as a “blanket response” even when it is not necessary.

Ofqual carried out a probe into extra time arrangements last autumn 
Ofqual carried out a probe into extra time arrangements last autumn 

“We are trying to get them to review the whole process so we don’t have this kind of ridiculous arrangement where some children are getting [extra time] and others aren’t getting a look in at all,” he said. “It’s not being given to the students who really need it.”

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the education and employment centre at the University of Buckingham, has previously said that requesting extra time is “an open goal for both pushy parents and pushy schools”.

Ofqual carried out a probe into extra time arrangements last autumn amid concern about the steep rise in requests for extra time.

It passed its findings on to the JCQ, which represents the country’s leading exam boards, which wrote to 300 schools earlier this year asking them to review their arrangements ahead of this summer’s exams. 

An Ofqual spokesman said it is “right and only fair” that the exam system allows disabled students to have “reasonable adjustments to the way they take their assessments so they can demonstrate their knowledge, skills and understanding alongside their peers.

“Nonetheless, we note with concern the increase in the number of students being granted extra time.

“While schools and colleges should make sure their disabled students have reasonable adjustments, we consider any abuse of the system to be malpractice.  

“We expect the exam boards to identify and investigate schools and colleges that, without obvious good reason, have an unusually high number of students who are given extra time and to sanction for malpractice any found to be misusing extra time arrangements.



By Camilla Turner, Education Editor
Source: The Telegraph


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