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Special consideration A levels and university admissions

(41 Posts)
mrsrhodgilbert Sat 02-May-15 15:49:03

Dd2 is about to sit her A2s. We have a fair bit of anxiety going on in our household at the moment. Next week will be the first anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis and I will be tested again to check for a recurrence. The results could take up to three weeks. Last year the diagnosis came 5 days before her AS exams started, I didn't tell her until her exams were over which meant a couple of very difficult weeks trying to pretend nothing was wrong. She knows I have to have a mammogram next week and got quite upset at school on Thursday. After a discussion with the pastoral officer it was suggested to us that they would be happy to apply for special consideration for her because of the stress. We haven't decided what to do and obviously hope I'll be fine and she will relax.

What we didn't tell the school was that her uncle is in the latter stages of bowel cancer and quite honestly we don't know what the next few weeks hold and his daughter, dds cousin, was diagnosed with the same two weeks ago, major surgery yesterday. It's all a bit difficult in our household at the moment.

Finally to my question, we will talk to school again properly about whether or not to apply for the exam dispensation. Anyone with any experience of this? But on an old thread I found a suggestion that it might be worth warning the university of choice that the student is experiencing an unusually stressful time. Not to make excuses, I don't want to give her unfair advantage, but would a university be vaguely interested/ bothered about this?

catslife Sat 02-May-15 17:42:25

There's no deadline for applying for Special Consideration, this can be done as late as the day of the exams: so you don't need to worry if things are likely to change. I would tell the school about everything that is going on; but I think you can only be given Special Consideration once depending on which situation is most serious. So basically your illness (if it continues) would be given more consideration than an uncle or cousin (as you are a closer relative), but if you are OK and the uncle dies there would still be some consideration for a bereavement. I hope that makes sense.
Yes a university would be interested if a potential student was faced with bereavement and/or critical illness of a close relative during the exam period. The school may be able to contact them on your behalf, if needed.
Hope that helps.

SauvignonBlanche Sat 02-May-15 17:45:16

I think you should definitely pursue this.
I hope everything works out for you though. flowers

mrsrhodgilbert Sat 02-May-15 17:50:52

Thank you for that, I was worried I might be in for a bit of a flaming. My perspective is a bit off at the moment. Will maybe ask school for advice re university.

SecretSquirrels Sat 02-May-15 18:41:48

mrsrhodgilbert flowers
What a lot to contend with. There is no question of giving her an unfair advantage. I doubt any consideration will be enough to compensate for all that. Certainly approach the uni as well, I can't see it doing any harm.

All the best x

bermudashorts Sat 02-May-15 19:00:35

Give the school full details - not just about your own situation, but also Uncle and Cousin. Ask the school regarding telling University.

If Special Consideration is applied for you will most probably be asked, by the school, to provide them with specific information. In our own case an immediate family member had an emergency operation in the middle of DC's exams. School needed to know the date, name of the hospital, what the operation was for and who the surgeon and anesthetist were. This was in case the exam boards needed to do any double checking.

We never knew if Special Consideration was awarded, just that it was applied for.

Muskey Sat 02-May-15 19:16:57

Wishing you well for your test results. When someone is genuinely in a stressful situation I think they have the right to have special consideration. It's when people use any excuse to try and ensure their dc get good grades it is really annoying and I think rather unfair

Charis1 Sat 02-May-15 22:01:05

yes, exam boards an universities will definitely take this into consideration. tell the school everything, an email might be easiest, and ask for them to let the exam board and university know.

Last year I wrote a letter to a university, after a pupil had missed an A level exam. His mother was behaving irrationally at home, and he was afraid of leaving her with his younger sister. Whereas this was a nasty situation, from the university prospective, there was no evidence at the time at all, but still, he failed his A level, and was still offered his university place without it.

His mother had a Schizophrenia diagnosis a few months later.

amybear2 Fri 08-May-15 00:10:54

I don't know.
An uncle and a cousin are hardly close family.Nearly everyone has an ill relative somewhere in their extended family.
Your mammogram isn't an illness, you are presumably in remission?I can understand it is a concern for you all, but it is really just a check up.

MillieMe Fri 08-May-15 00:36:23

amybear Are you really this heartless!

amybear2 Fri 08-May-15 00:50:01

I am not heartless!! But I am not the person at the exam boards making this decision.I am sure they are overwhelmed with applications from chancers (not suggesting for a moment this is you). I think they have to take a hard line.

Charis1 Fri 08-May-15 01:21:28

no, they don't take a "hard line". Nor do universities.

They take a line of trying very hard to be fair to everyone, and to ensure every student gets a result that truly reflects what they SHOULD achieve, if nothing was interfering with their taking exams.

MillieMe Fri 08-May-15 01:35:44

But you sound like your saying OP circumstances aren't serious enough to affect her child studies. OP might be in remission now but any anniversary check up would be a worry for anyone close let alone her dd. Not everyone will be as strong as you. It effects people in different ways. I know my own dd would really struggle mentally if we were faced with OP circumstances.

MillieMe Fri 08-May-15 01:38:06

Sorry my above message was to amybear not to you charis 1

mrsrhodgilbert Fri 08-May-15 17:10:32

OP here. Thanks for your replies. A small update, I managed to get my mammogram results early by phoning the hospital and they were clear for now, so we will not be applying for special consideration for dd or this reason.

Amybear2 unfortunately, with breast cancer, the word remission is not used, despite how it is portrayed in the media and entertainment industry. There is always the chance of it coming back, so " it's really just a check up" is vastly underestimating the emotional impact and the possible outcome. If you ever meet anyone irl in this situation I would urge you to choose your words more carefully.

Her uncle and cousin are not doing so well but we can only monitor the whole family situation over the coming weeks.

lalamumto3 Fri 08-May-15 17:29:15

I am so sorry to hear you have been having such a tough time. I am glad that your check up went well. We have had a different set of worries and so you have both my understanding and sympathy.

I was concerned about the effect this could have on my dd, so when I was at an offer holder day with her I asked the admissions staff about special consideration, they said very clearly that they would like to know anything that could affect results before the exam results. After the offer holder day my dd spoke to her sixth form tutor and he rang her chosen unis to check what I had said and the 2 unis both said that we should send in a letter now, so that they could attach it to her file.
Therefore I would really recommend that you speak to her chosen unis now as if she just misses a grade, it could make a difference.
best wishes

SecretSquirrels Fri 08-May-15 18:13:11

mrsrhodgilbert Glad to hear your results were good. I still think you should mention your DD's cousin. Some cousins are as close as siblings and this is a big thing just before exams. It couldn't hurt but I also don't believe that admissions staff would be as cold hearted as amybear suggests.

amybear2 Fri 08-May-15 18:47:17

* also don't believe that admissions staff would be as cold hearted as amybear suggests*

I think the university would give special consideration because in the majority of cases they are recruiting rather than selecting and are not going to want to turn away £27,000 in a hurry.

ichappy Tue 12-May-15 10:58:46

Mrsrhodgilbert, I would echo the good advice offered by lalamumto3.

I work in HE recruitment for a Russell Group institution and can say with some certainty that the majority of admissions tutors would, a) be very happy to speak with you and/or teachers about this, and, b) would consider these circumstances alongside the conventional application.

I would call the academic department directly - if you can find details of admissions tutors on the academics listing pages, all the better - rather than going through central university administration. You may be pleasantly surprised at how helpful and approachable the staff will be.

There's no question of 'unfair advantage'; universities want to see results, of course, but they want to see potential, and it is therefore wholly appropriate for them to consider circumstances which might militate against that potential being fulfilled.

Moominmammacat Tue 12-May-15 17:31:38

The mothers of two of my DS's friends died last year during the actual A2 exams. They actually met their offers but I know they were treated kindly by the unis when they were informed. Telling them can't do any harm ...
My sister's DD had immense problems which Cambridge bent over backwards trying to accommodate ... it didn't work out in the end, but at least they felt both sides had done all they could.

mrsrhodgilbert Tue 12-May-15 17:54:28

Thank you both for your posts today. It is a RG university and she needs 3As to take her place. She is well on course, she's actually predicted higher grades but distractions won't help.

I feel a bit cautious about this at the moment. We know my health is ok right now, thanks to last weeks clear mammogram, although I will be receiving some therapy during her exam period to help with side effects of the treatment. She will be aware of this.

Her uncle is very ill but still with us and I can't and wouldn't want to predict when that might change. Her cousin is very sick at the moment but will get better.

It's easy to write all this down, talking about it on the phone to a stranger might be too difficult. There was a department lecturer / admissions tutor who we saw at several open days who was very approachable. I'm wondering about sending him an email, detailing what's happened over the last twelve months, do you think that would be acceptable?

Moomin, how awful for your DS's friends.

ichappy Wed 13-May-15 09:16:11

mrsrhodgilbert, the simple answer is "yes", do get in touch with that tutor directly, saying that you have been to open events and saw him there. Also, I would add in that you're happy for him to refer this on to more relevant personnel if necessary - this could help to expedite the process.

I agree that it would be best to write this down so that you can clearly convey all the details you need to (and, again, this would help if the case needed to be referred elsewhere, saving you going through it twice or more).

You could also explain your reservations about doing so - i.e. the concerns about fairness you mentioned earlier - because I'm sure that his response would give you peace of mind.

As moomin says above, it certainly will not hurt to ask, and at the very least you'll know what the prospects of help are. Again, I would urge you to contact the department directly and as soon as you can, so that this is one less thing for you to worry about.

UptheChimney Wed 13-May-15 13:11:00

TBH, mrsrhodgilbert I think you DO need to write it all down, and send to the chosen Univesties' central Admissions office, not the Department, not to an individual tutor

Respectfully disagreeing with ichappy here. I wouldn't call the Department directly. Central Admissions people deal with this sort of thing all the time, and you could give them a quick call. No need to go into detail. Just ask what their procedure is to warn the University of adverse personal circumstances during here exams. If pushed - life-limiting illness of close family member?

My reasoning is that we are all flat out marking exams etc, and something like this needs to be dealt with centrally. It's putting a lot of responsibility on an already overworked academic, when it's not really their job to deal with.

mrsrhodgilbert Wed 13-May-15 13:50:56

I wish I had read your response half an hour ago, upthechimney, because I have just done exactly what you have suggested I shouldn't do. If its something he can't deal with he will hopefully forward it on, as I have requested. I was feeling relieved, briefly.

GooseyLoosey Wed 13-May-15 14:06:01

mrsrhodgilbert, I imagine they will forward it on. However, dh is head of department and he is a little swamped. If it arrived on his desk, he would deal with it, but it might take a while. I would be inclined to ring the central admissions office and tell them what you have done and say it just occurred to you that you might not have sent it to the right place. I imagine if they want it, they will just ask you for a copy.

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