GCSEs: ‘extra time’ rule overhauled to stamp out abuse

The Telegraph is reporting that examiners are to crack down on the number of pupils given extra time in GCSEs amid fears schools may be “playing the system” to boost results…

From September, all schools will be required to provide additional evidence that pupils qualify for special privileges that result in tests being lengthened by as much as a quarter.

Currently, teenagers are able to claim up to 25 per cent extra time if they have dyslexia or other medical conditions, disabilities and injuries that impair their ability to read and write properly.

The rules are in place to ensure that exams are “fair and accessible” for all pupils irrespective of their needs.

But the official exams watchdog fears that the system may be abused by some schools in an attempt to get more time for pupils who lag behind without displaying any medical problems.

Latest figures show that 123,248 pupils sat lengthened exams last summer, up from 117,169 a year earlier and 109,773 in 2010.

Some 96 per cent of requests from schools for extra time last year were approved by exam boards, it emerged.

Ofqual, the qualifications regulator for England, wrote to examiners last autumn asking them to review procedures surrounding extra time amid concerns it may be “given to candidates to help them improve their grades rather than to address a significant disadvantage”.

The Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents major exam boards, is now tackling the problem by introducing new guidance for schools.

The disclosure is made just a day before around 600,000 children across England, Wales and Northern Ireland receive their GCSE results.

The guidelines – applied from next month – say that:

• All schools requesting extra time must submit a formal statement confirming that children have special educational needs or bring in an independent assessor to screen pupils for certain learning difficulties;

• The assessment of pupils should include a “standardised test” covering reading, writing and cognitive ability to prove that their speed of work is hampered by a disability;

• Extra time will not be granted if literacy problems are caused by pupils speaking English as a second language;

• Students awarded extra time in GCSEs must be subjected to a new assessment before being granted the same special privileges in A-levels.

In the past, many pupils were able to secure extra time on the back of reports from educational psychologists hired by the school without external checks.

More at:  GCSEs: ‘extra time’ rule overhauled to stamp out abuse

Your thoughts on these changes? Has the system been abused in the past? Please share in the comments or on twitter… 

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Categories: Secondary.


  1. Austiniho

    SchoolsImprove we’re not playing countdown, they are having their knowledge and understanding tested! Never seen this abused. #ukedchat

  2. FionaTipper

    SchoolsImprove I am not sure that a bit of extra time would benefit anyone who simply doesn’t know their stuff. A non issue.

  3. little_mavis

    Bedtonman SchoolsImprove Oh good grief. More cost I imagine too so more reasons for schools not to take on SEN pupils.

  4. Bedtonman

    little_mavis harder exams & curriculum =more failures = more SEN = more MLD schools = more elitist education = Tory wet dream

  5. educimprov

    FionaTipper SchoolsImprove you try having HF Aspergers, know your stuff but your dyspraxia makes your writing illegible! U need that time

  6. McGDJ

    educimprov SchoolsImprove FionaTipper or visual impairment that makes scanning text hard – need time to allow simply to read paper

  7. Organic_Jane

    SchoolsImprove Re-testing btwn GCSE & A level? Stupid waste of time. Disability/Dyslexia etc doesn’t just disappear at 16!

  8. FionaTipper

    educimprov SchoolsImprove I dont see how it would benefit people who just didnt work, therefore cant see benefit of anyone abusing system

  9. plumsteadgirl

    SchoolsImprove it has just taken me a year to get an assessment for my child. There simply isn’t provision as it stands to cope with demand

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