Provision of special needs supports for state exams to be reviewed

Leaving Cert scheme operates on ‘tighter’ basis than Junior Cert, committee told

A total of 61 parents complained to the Ombudsman last year about the SEC’s decision not to give their child exam support

A total of 61 parents complained to the Ombudsman last year about the SEC’s decision not to give their child exam support

 

The State Examinations Commission is to review its policy on the provision of supports for students with special needs after complaints this year from parents and disability campaigners.

The incoming chairman of the commission, Pat Burke, said it would approach “with an open mind” the operation of the “reasonable accommodation” scheme to see whether students were being unfairly deprived readers, scribes or other supports to help them complete State exams.

Refused support

Last year, 8,857 candidates with a range of disabilities – including dyslexia, dyspraxia, visual impairments and physical disabilities – applied under the “reasonable accommodation” scheme. Of these, 7,664 (86.5 per cent) were granted an exam support, while 1,193 (13.5 per cent) were refused.

A total of 61 parents complained to the Ombudsman last year about the SEC’s decision not to give their child exam support.

Retired teachers

Department of Education and Skills

However, he stressed the scheme was “demand-led” and he was “pretty certain” no one was being refused supports just “to save a few bob”.

Asked about the commission’s use of retired teachers to mark papers, Mr Burke said “young, unemployed teachers are given priority in selection” but it was a tricky area as you couldn’t bar people from employment on grounds of age.