Tuesday 27 September 2016

Special-needs pupils to hear why support is refused

Published 23/05/2016 | 02:30

'In a recent judgment, the High Court ruled that a Leaving Cert student with dyslexia was entitled to know why he was being refused at the appeal stage' Stock photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto
'In a recent judgment, the High Court ruled that a Leaving Cert student with dyslexia was entitled to know why he was being refused at the appeal stage' Stock photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Leaving and Junior Certificate candidates who have lost their appeal for a support to help them through the exams will now be told why.

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The issue has been the subject of a number of legal actions this year. In a recent judgment, the High Court ruled that a Leaving Cert student with dyslexia was entitled to know why he was being refused at the appeal stage.

As a result, the cases of about 80 students in a similar situation have been reviewed - and those who have lost their appeal will be given a rationale for the decision.

Exam candidates with special educational needs, such as specific learning difficulties including dyslexia, or physical, medical or behavioural conditions, can apply for support under what is known as the Scheme of Reasonable Accommodations at the Certificate Examinations (RACE).

The range of supports include readers, scribes, word-processors, waivers from spelling and grammar in language subjects, modified exam papers such as Braille, and access to a special centre where the student may sit the exam alone.

Reasonable accommodations are intended to remove, as far as possible, the impact of the disability on the candidate's performance.

The candidate must provide evidence of their difficulty and, if they are refused, they may appeal to an Independent Appeals Committee. While the State Examinations Commission (SEC) provides an explanation for a decision to refuse at the initial stage, it has not been practice for the appeals committee to offer a rationale in cases where it turns down an appeal.

A spokesperson for the SEC said that arising from the High Court judgement, it was now arranging for the appeals committee to provide a written rationale for their decision to refuse a RACE appeal.

Irish Independent

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