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Independent schools 'more likely to give extra time for exams'

10/02/2017 Joanna

Independent schools are more likely to provide students with extra time to complete their exams on request, according to a new report.

An analysis of official exam data by BBC Radio 4's Today programme has indicated that during last year's GCSE and A-level exams, extra time was awarded to more than 27,000 independent school students. This represented nearly 20 per cent of all candidates attending these schools.

By contrast, about 200,000 state school students received extra time, which represented fewer than 12 per cent of all state sector students taking the exams. The analysis also indicated that the total number of students awarded extra time in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has increased every year since 2011.

Extra time to complete exams is provided to students with special needs and disabilities - such as dyslexia - so they are not placed at a disadvantage. If a pupil does require an extension, they must undergo an assessment of their need well in advance of the exam itself.

In this report, the students in question received 25 per cent extra time, meaning they were able to take just over three hours to complete a two-and-a-half hour exam paper.

The discrepancy between the number of state schools and independent schools providing extensions creates a question as to whether the policy is being applied in the same way across all establishments, or whether better-resourced schools are more likely to give out extra time.

The Joint Council for Qualifications said it was important for arrangements of this kind to be offered only to those who need them, while highlighting the importance of making sure a consistent approach to rules is maintained between schools.

It said: "There's a rigorous process to ensure this, including annual inspections, and we review this process every year. Fairness is ensured by the process being the same, irrespective of location or type of school or college."

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