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Pupils in independent schools much more likely to get extra time in exams

(79 Posts)
Sadik Sat 11-Feb-17 21:45:31

Don't know if others have seen this - article here.
What I don't think is at all obvious is whether it's independent schools working the system, or state schools failing to get extra time for those who need it?

Blueemeraldagain Sat 11-Feb-17 21:49:10

Having been to an independent school (and had extra time in my exams) and now teaching in a state SEN school I would say it's a bit of both.
Lack of parental support/involvement is more of an issue at state schools in my experience. I've had parents refuse to have their child assessed.

RancidOldHag Sat 11-Feb-17 21:50:37

Many of the parents more affluent, and self-fund for the Ed Psych assessments which are the gateway to this.

fuckingwall Sat 11-Feb-17 21:53:51

Private schools probably have better access to a teacher who is qualified to assess for access arrangements.

missyB1 Sat 11-Feb-17 22:00:21

The private schools are more likely to get a diagnosis and therefore the extra time / support is organised.

AlexanderHamilton Sat 11-Feb-17 22:06:25

My son's private school screen all students for dyslexia on entry to the school.

We paid for an independent ed psych assessment for DS (not with the intention of getting extra time but to get a diagnoses of an asd so we could access support). A classmate of his also had a private assessment for other issues. It was the ed psych who told us about the extra time.

So I think it's partly parental involvement & partly we were able to fund the assessments.

wannabestressfree Sat 11-Feb-17 22:16:42

You do not need an ed psychs report for extra time. We flag most within school.

zzzzz Sat 11-Feb-17 22:21:24

Independent schools often have an inflated number of children who can cope in MS with additional help (like extra time). Parents, far from being the affluent yummy mummies they are perceived to be, often scrape the barrel because they feel that their child won't get the same level of care in the state system. Conversely children with more significant needs are often better served in state schools.

Sadik Sat 11-Feb-17 22:33:52

That does make sense, zzzzz - if you feel your dc is on the edge of coping, you're much more likely to stretch to pay for private with smaller classes etc.

It's interesting - dd's English teacher flagged that it would be appropriate to assess her for extra time because of the discrepancy between her spoken & written work. She was actually assessed by the Ed Psych in yr 4 I think of primary & had a lot of extra help (at the time it was more a question of being able to write anything at all!).

We never followed up as it seems (fingers crossed) most likely she'll get a perfectly acceptable grade & she has no intention of continuing with language/humanities subjects post GCSE. But I can see if there were more resources & school (or parents) were really pushing to maximise grades then she probably would have been assessed more formally.

Bekksy Sat 11-Feb-17 22:46:07

Doesn't surprise me at all. My daughters state school told me I had to get a doctors letter for her for exam anxiety (she is dyslexic). Went to the doctor who was not happy to do this. He wrote a letter stating that she had anxiety but added that the school have more experience of this. and he should not have been asked for the letter. He did not send the letter which had to be in yesterday. I had to go to his office yesterday, after the school phoned and asked for it as it was needed before half term by the exam board. It had not been sent.. and it was sitting there with a post it note saying I needed to pay a £25 fee. No one had called me about this.

I refused to pay for it, because I am hard arsed, and they gave it to me as I was going to cause a scene. I would gave paid if I had no other option. However I did wonder how many children lose out because their parents are too nice to cause a scene or cannot afford the Fee.

Friends at an Indy were told in Year 10 to get their daughter reassessed for dyslexia as exam board would only consider a recent diagnosis. We were told nothing about this and had assumed her original diagnosis was enough. Guess who is getting extra time?

Witchend Sun 12-Feb-17 09:51:45

The school I went to in the 6th form used to assess anyone who was slow to finish in years 7-9 as "dyslexic" so they could have extra time in the exams. However I think at the time they only had to state that was true on the entry form, now they have to be properly diagnosed.

I think the thing is a states is there's often no provision for the not doing as well as they should but still coping okay. That means those tend to fall between the tracks.

HardcoreLadyType Sun 12-Feb-17 10:07:57

I do think a lot of it is that in the state sector, as a parent, you have to advocate far more for your child, than in the private sector (on this issue). And in the state sector, there are far more parents who are unable to advocate for their children.

It is unfair, and state schools should routinely do the testing for SEN that private schools do. But that takes political will, and more importantly, funding. And funding is of course, being cut.

So, it's easier to suggest that the private sector is playing the system. It's another scapegoat. (So far we've had immigrants, benefits claimants, buy to let landlords, people going to A&E because they can't get a doctors appointment...)

Bensyster Sun 12-Feb-17 10:12:52

State school here. It took a while for ds to agree but I have finally asked for him to be assessed, his handwriting has been a constant source of dismay at his school, it's very difficult to read - he has hypermobile joints and his grip strength is very poor...it has surprised me that no one has meantioned assessment before now. My two nephews got extra time during their exams but they refused to use it as they were too embarrassed.

Kennington Sun 12-Feb-17 10:18:41

So 20% of independent schools pupils have issues that require extra exam time.
That's 1 student in 5. I would like to know what percentage it is in mainland Europe, as this seems awfully high.

roguedad Sun 12-Feb-17 10:22:21

One of those annoying headlines that washes over many issues, such as parents driven to use the private sector because the state does not properly address special needs for their kids.

Sadik Sun 12-Feb-17 10:39:11

Did you read the article, roguedad? Because I thought it was reasonably balanced - the main gap being that it didn't give a source for the quoted figures of pupils with SEN in maintained versus independent.

ReapAndSow Sun 12-Feb-17 10:48:41

I think it a surprisingly high number of kids that get extra time. My DC have always used all the time available in their exams so having extra time would have helped a lot.

Perhaps having less time pressured exams for everyone would help - so they are more of a test of knowledge rather than a time pressured test of knowledge.

PolterGoose Sun 12-Feb-17 10:55:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Hulababy Sun 12-Feb-17 10:56:59

I heard it on the radio. There was a women on from one of the dyslexia associations ir similar who says that 1 in 5 is about right across the population of you take into account dyslexia, dyspraxia etc as well as all the other things that can require a little extra processing time.
Apparently they thought it was the state schools whose numbers are too low overall but that is for a whole raft of reasons not least time and funding for getting children assessed.

Hulababy Sun 12-Feb-17 10:59:52

And yes maybe a system in exams which removes some of the time pressures may help overall better. Allow children to leave silently when finished after x amount of time, but have a longer period of time permitted for the exams full stop. Or things like allow more use of typing for answering esp essays etc so being able to write fast is less of an issue for all pupils, not just restricting it to a select few who are allowed to type.

IDK Sun 12-Feb-17 11:11:38

DS got extra time in exams but only because I pushed for it. His State school didn't spot his SpLD. He was diagnosed, originally, by MN. I asked about a different problem and they sussed the SpLD without ever having seen DS whereas the school hadn't spotted it in the six years they had him in lessons.
I tried to raise it with the school, they fobbed me off with GP. The GP tried to push the problem back to the school. It was a similar situation to Bekksy's above. In the end I paid for an assessment myself.
The average person gets 100 in tests, good gets above, poor gets below. The cutoff for being classed as SpLD is 84. DS got 5 in one test. 5!! The State school didn't spot that he was off the scale poor.

I concur that in some cases it is State schools at fault. It is not Independent schools 'gaming' the system - it is Independents doing it right.

Cherryskypie Sun 12-Feb-17 11:16:39

'We never followed up as it seems (fingers crossed) most likely she'll get a perfectly acceptable grade'

I don't understand why you wouldn't follow it up.

KittyCatKittyCat Sun 12-Feb-17 11:36:41

I would agree with a few of the posters above. Have taught just under a decade in state primaries and more recently a few years in indi-prep.

From my experience, in prep's the parents pay for the screening and ed-psych. The prep has a few EP's that they know of and have worked with, and the parent makes the decision which to use. Teachers and parents are both able to flag up concerns and keep an eye on things, before recommending a screening if that nagging feeling that something is up doesn't go away after a few terms. IEP/IAP's are very well organised and reviewed on a regular schedule between home and school. I have seen real improvements in dyslexic pupils. The parents also have to pay for the 1:1 individual support if they opt for it, all of them do. This is usually a weekly hour long 1:1 lesson with a TA. I haven't yet seen it materialise as 1:1 full time in class support for a specific pupil. At that point, I imagine the cost is too high and the state would serve them better (as they would then have a statement to say why that level of support was necessary).

In state, the SENCO is overwhelmed. Often children present as middle-ability and muddle through, but if you looked harder you might realise they were supposed to be higher ability. Only the lower ability pupils are pushed for screening as the school has to pay for it (it's expensive!). I have seen middle to higher ability pupil's parents pay for it privately because the school refused to screen, as they were generally 'fine'. This means that twice exceptional pupils are missing out, (exceptional because they are both of a higher ability, AND struggling with a specific learning disability).

I would agree that the state sector deals with more complex needs much better, but for dyslexia (and similar dys-) the children get a much more individually catered and intense level of support. In the state, so many have these 'simpler/softer' needs that they realistically don't get the time/support, as those with more demanding needs take priority/more time.

It's such a shame that those who can't afford private yet 'only' have a 'small' learning need don't get the support they need in state, but with so many in one class it's a huge job for just the teacher to manage day to day (again, the SENCO won't be there day to day to practically help in my experience and the TA is often with the higher needs pupils). I don't know what the answer is.

EnormousTiger Sun 12-Feb-17 11:52:15

1. The rules are much much tougher now than they were. Eg my daughter dyslexic got extra time which she genuinely needed. Her younger brother did not as he was not doing badly enough at school and the rules had changed. Some boys at school have however got extra time in his class and he thinks for some (not all) it's because instead of doing the tests genuinely they went slower. So here we are private school - no extra time so let us not all assume all those who need and deserve it are getting extra time in exams. He would also benefit from typing it but again isn't allowed. They did say he could be tested again in the sixth form but he hasn't bothered ; his choice (and he didn't think he would be any more succesful this time round either).

2. If the needs are not too bad a lot of children manage to work around their difficulty without needing help but if someone is really really bad then it's different.

3. I have probably spent at least £2k on private educational psy reports by the way - so not a cheap option whether in state or private schools.

4. As someone said above some parents in the state system with a child who is floundering put every last penny together to pay private school fees so that might lead to more children in private schools needing the extra time etc coupled with more parents being prepared to spend a few hundred on a private assessment even if that means no family holiday that year kind of thing.

Sadik Sun 12-Feb-17 13:32:40

"I don't understand why you wouldn't follow it up."
DD gets a lot of support in other ways from school. I think at a certain point you have to accept there are many children, and only so many resources.

I do feel that it's a strange point we're at right now, where once children leave school, realistically they will never need to produce substantial quantities of hand-written material. In working life for the vast majority of people (I'm sure there are exceptions, but not that many these days) you use a keyboard, have the spellchecker turned on, can copy/paste & move text around easily etc. Yet for obvious reasons it's not possible for exams to actually replicate the real world conditions that people will go out into.
I'm not sure what the answer is but I do suspect in say 10 or 20 years time the idea of hand writing exam answers will seem bizarre.

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