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too many people having extra time

(293 Posts)
IrmaFayLear Tue 05-Nov-19 12:22:10

I didn't quite know where to post this, so I've tried here...

Dd came home in some distress as it turns out that 15 out of 20 people in one of her A Level classes are having extra time for exams.
Dd is upset that it now seems that rather than levelling the playing field for people who genuinely need assistance, a minority are being penalised. Furthermore some of these extra-time people are in "competition" with dd in that they are highly ambitious A* people.

Dd said that one girl told her that "slow processing" is the new watchword and they paid for a private assessment. Dd said that this girl has no processing problems when it comes to quick-fire banter on social media and it's never been mentioned before.

If the exams are deemed too short, then surely give everyone 25% extra time? As it is with this particular subject, it's a case of some people being given 25% less time.

I had a quick google and a)there are masses of sites telling you how to get extra time and how to "fail" the tests and b) Ofqual has said that it is getting out of hand.

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Doyoumind Tue 05-Nov-19 12:25:51

This makes me angry too but I don't think there is anything you can do about it.

Witchend Tue 05-Nov-19 14:01:25

It's an interesting situation but not a new one.

At the school I was at in the 6th form (independent selective), they used to automatically register people as dyslexic to get the extra time if they seemed to be slower doing exams in younger ages.

For slow processing, you could say that's part of exams-being able to do it in time.

I would say thought that banter on SM is very different to exams, so I don't think that has anything to do with it.

I suspect my dd1 may have "slow processing". I would describe her as slow and careful. An extra 25% of time would have made a difference to her in several subjects. However she did get pretty much top grades, so it wasn't really needed. It would just have been less stressful for her on the way. It's never been mentioned especially and I'm sure you could say she's quick at responding to messages.
Dd2's issue is far more dashing through and being careless. 25% more would probably make no difference to her.

Ironically dd2 (because of other issues) is the one who they did look at to give extra time. If she had worked like dd1, they would have said she definitely needed it.

Deecaff Tue 05-Nov-19 14:04:46

Indeed. I don't really get what slow processing is other than not being as bright as the next person. Unfortunately there will always be sharp elbowed parents willing to seek out advantages for their DCs.

BubblesBuddy Tue 05-Nov-19 14:11:06

15/20 is totally unreasonable. They are obviously gaming the system. However your DD can only do her best. Her marks are not dependent on the others at the moment but if so many are given extra time, then does it affect the grade boundaries in the actual exams? It must if so many are given extra time. My DDs laughed about a couple of DC needing extra time - the ones who got to Cambridge!

IrmaFayLear Tue 05-Nov-19 14:16:38

How does this pan out around the country? Can it really be possible that 75% of candidates in some exams are getting extra time?! At what point does Ofqual actually step in and say this is ridiculous?

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FlemCandango Tue 05-Nov-19 14:43:58

This is a slightly sensitive topic for me as my ds is a so-called "gifted" student who will need additional support in his exams. He is autistic, has tics and sensory issues and is predicted 9s in his forthcoming GCSEs. He has illegible writing due to the sensory issues around holding a pen and types his notes where possible, so will be typing his exam papers, he is probably going to need a post-scribe in maths where typing is not possible.

He may not have academic issues, but his additional needs are real and justified. The number of people needing extra time on your daughter's A-level class may be an anomaly - my experience so far of special arrangements in exams do not indicate that it is a tick box exercise. There needs to be a case made and evidence of need shown to the exam board.

Bright academically able kids sometimes need reasonable adjustments to reach their potential. My son and in a couple of years my daughter, are in that category, they have enough issues dealing with a world that excludes/ ignores and "others" them. They are likely to find it difficult to live independently, to get a job, to navigate romantic relationships, so extra time, a separate room etc. in an exam means they get an even playing field in this area at least.

I am sure this comes across as defensive. I do understand feeling that things are unfair - particularly in relation to your children. If there is an issue in your daughter's school op then you should question the arrangements, see what they say.

Michaelbaubles Tue 05-Nov-19 14:47:06

That seems like a very high number - I’d say about 20% of my last A level class got either extra time or dispensation to use a laptop during their exam, and for those students it wasn’t really an advantage, just removing a real barrier (very slow/illegible handwriting or the inability to get down on paper the equivalent answer that a “normal” student would be able to do in the time given, even though they understood the material equally well).

IrmaFayLear Tue 05-Nov-19 14:57:24

Oh, no, FlemCandango, I'm not taking issue with the need for extra time for those who have a demonstrable need based on a real disability, and neither does dd.

But when far more people need an adjustment than people who don't... well, isn't that just the new normal?! It will end up being that those who don't get extra time will have to have an adjustment because they don't get extra time...

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FunOnTheBeach20 Tue 05-Nov-19 14:59:14

They’re so desperate to be inclusive and not offend.

I was offered extra time and classed as a disabled student because I’m mildly asthmatic. I play sport, I run, my asthma is and has always had been under control. I never took the time - I have always whizzed through exams and was the first to leave so the prospect of sitting there longer was not desirable.

Comefromaway Tue 05-Nov-19 15:07:50

Ds has slow processing. He is also autistic with sensory issues and dysfluent handwriting.

Slow processing is a delay in messages getting to the brain. So if you tell ds a piece of information or ask him a question there is a delay in him being able to process the information and respond to you. To be eligible for extra time for this there either has to be other issues as well (as in my ds's autism) or the speed of processing has to be severe.

ZandathePanda Tue 05-Nov-19 15:17:02

Is your Dd at private school? I say that because there is a marked difference between the local private school and state school. At the private school half had extra time. My friend says most of them were due to dyslexia/slow processing and the school encouraged the practice.

There were around 10 people out of 135 in my DD’s state school. Dd was one of them. She had a hand injury so was allowed a break for 5 minutes if she needed it to stop the shooting pains intensifying to the point she couldn’t grip the pen. She only used it twice, preferring to dose up on painkillers and writing different ways/different pens. The second time she nipped to the toilet whilst doing hand exercises and the invigilator said that counted as a toilet stop so it didn’t count! The extra time ‘thing’ was not encouraged but easy to organise once we had a doctors and physio note.

We were a bit worried if the examiners were able to read her writing but it worked out ok. She didn’t want the ‘stops’ because it interrupted the flow of what she wanted to say.

Whether it’s the case of more parents of dyslexic pupils sending these children to private schools I don’t know.

IrmaFayLear Tue 05-Nov-19 15:22:02

But there are people getting extra time who have nowhere near this level of need.

When we needed mil to be deemed compos mentis (in order to sign a power of attorney urgently) we paid a private doctor. Private doctor gave the appropriate answer - the answer we were paying her to give. (Nothing dodgy here - honest! - we just needed to access her funds in order to pay for her care.) Similarly those paying private educational assessment people - the private assessors would be out of business if they didn't have a very lenient view of what constitutes a need for exam adjustment.

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IrmaFayLear Tue 05-Nov-19 15:25:21

No, a state school, but quite a "leafy" one I suppose. I hadn't really questioned the practice until dd came home and told me quite how many were having extra time.

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RockinHippy Tue 05-Nov-19 15:29:56

Christ in a bike hmm

How about teaching your DD to have a bit more compassion. Have you any idea how hard it is to access that extra time. You don't get it if it isn't needed. It's thanks to parents like you not putting her straight, tgat there is so much misunderstanding over invisible disabilities

My very first biscuitbiscuit

itbemay Tue 05-Nov-19 15:30:27

I recently signed up for a masters programme, all adult learners at university and the first thing they got us to do was a test to check for any learning issues, dyslexia etc and those that scored as having problems were given extra time in the exams. When the tutor handed them out he even said its a money maker for the university. I know this isn't what you asked OP but it could go some way as to giving a reason.

AgnesGrundy Tue 05-Nov-19 15:33:00

There are people who play the system - I'm not sure how things have progressed in the UK school system since I left, but in the country I live in now parents suggest that o one another/ ruefully admit to getting children diagnosed with a "reading and writing weakness" which is categorically not dyslexia but just a free pass not to have spelling mistakes held against them and yes - to have extra time. I wasn't wise to it when I registered my dc2 for secondary and he made spelling mistakes on a form he had to fill in - they asked whether he had this weakness and I said no, local language isn't his mother tongue. No allowances or extra time for that though hmm

Nobody begrudges adjustments for people who need them but 75% of people don't need them unless everyone does - it's annoying to play fairly when some of those 75% are playing the system...

Comefromaway Tue 05-Nov-19 15:33:35

The JCQ criteria for extra time has been tightend up in previous years. We did send ds for private assessment. Not becasue we wanted him to get extra time, but becasue there was a 2 year waiting list for any kind of autism assessment and we were desperate.

The tests they do are specific and administered quite stringently. It's not just down to an opinion.

MillicentMartha Tue 05-Nov-19 15:42:00

It does seem to vary from school to school. My DS2 who has ASD, and had 20 hours 1:1 on his statement then EHCP did not qualify for extra time, but did get a scribe for his GCSEs. confused

The super selective grammar school I work in gets around 5% with extra time. It seems to me that selective state and private schools are pushing for this.

TeenPlusTwenties Tue 05-Nov-19 15:43:01

15/20 sounds very high.

However, I do have to take issue with Deecaff who possibly made this comment to get a rise on purpose: I don't really get what slow processing is other than not being as bright as the next person.

Slow processing is just that. If you ask my DDs questions the time it takes for the question to get into the brain, formulate the answer, and out again, is noticeably longer than for your average teen. DD1 in particular cannot do fast flowing teen 'bantz' as she literally cannot keep up. But that doesn't mean she isn't 'as bright as the next person'.

The extra time in exams helps my DDs to show what they can do. 'Most' pupils can complete a science or whatever exam happily in the given time. My DDs can't. Give them a bit extra and they can show what they can do. What it doesn't do is make them suddenly able to answer questions they couldn't do otherwise.

Genuine slow processors have it quite hard in school. It takes them longer to process what they are being taught. It takes them longer to do their homework. It takes them longer to revise for their exams to the same level. And then they get extra time in exams, which is a double edged sword, as e.g. The 2hr15min Eng Lit GCSEs which are pretty long turn into a 3 hour marathon.

That doesn't mean that some people aren't cheating the system of course.

(NB if most people are getting 25% extra, that means the OP's DD is getting 20% less, not 25%).

IrmaFayLear Tue 05-Nov-19 15:47:36

Thank you, RockinHippy, but you only need to google and you will find countless posts asking how to get extra time, and independent consultants asking if your child would benefit from extra time (ie offering to get it for them). There appears to be a kind of if you can't beat 'em, join 'em race.

(Please don't lecture me about invisible disabilities angry . )

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Needmoresleep Tue 05-Nov-19 15:56:14

I am not sure what the state private thing is here other than parents having the resources to pay for tests. I find the almost pathological need to knock private schools at almost opportunity depressing.

DD gets extra time. She has been tested every three years since the age of 7 when her problems started to appear. She read well but could not spell at all. Her (really very slow processing speeds) have been consistent despite different people doing the tests each time. Extra time makes a lot of difference, and she uses it.

She was at a prep school with a Head who had the same attitude as decaff I don't really get what slow processing is other than not being as bright as the next person. and we were advised not to send her to an academic secondary (in his words she was suited to "country boarding") Instead she went to an academic secondary, took 5 A levels and was seen as having Oxbridge potential.

Interestingly though the the a school was private only two of them got extra time so about 1%. And the other DC appears to have had issues similar to those described by Flem.

To be honest I thought the rules were pretty tight and so am surprised that numbers would be so high.

I guess though there is a problem. Apparently DD has been told that in the interests of "equality" everyone on her University course will be given "extra time". I hope that it will mean that there is enough time for her to get her knowledge down on paper. It would be a pity is she lost her "reasonable adjustments" because too many are gaming the system.

EL8888 Tue 05-Nov-19 15:59:48

I have dysgraphia and dyspraxia, l am currently doing some studying as a nature student. It’s been agreed after an assessment that l can type my exam scripts. Extra time was briefly mentioned but like l said to them, that would give me an unfair advantage. Which wouldn’t be fair on my course mates

75% is a lot of people to have extra time. What kind of issues / diagnoses do they have?

EL8888 Tue 05-Nov-19 16:00:12

Or even a mature student. Rather than a nature student!

existentialpineapple Tue 05-Nov-19 16:02:12

It does seem a bit out of proportion. It is also not fair if there are lots of children gaming the system as you say. I understand your frustrations, however I do think it's unfair to judge them for having extra time when you don't really know the intricacies of each child’s learning abilities/difficulties.

Learning difficulties can be really debilitating and cause all sorts of issues including with self esteem. It is great that schools now recognise that some children are at a disadvantage and try to address that with a system that levels the playing field a little.

I think it's also important to realise that just because the girl you mentioned is quick witted on social media it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have issues processing information in an academic context. A dyslexic child can be just as bright as a non dyslexic child and not seem to be any different from them in day to day life, but when it comes to academic work they struggle and do need the extra time as processing is slower.

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