A SIGNIFICANTLY higher proportion of private school students nationally received extra time to complete exams last year than state school pupils.
One in five GCSE and A-level exam takers at independent schools received the special measure. Whereas in state schools, less than one in eight did.
Exam candidates can receive 25 per cent extra time, because of special needs or disabilities like dyslexia.
The figures suggest that better-resourced schools may be more likely to receive the measure, which are intended to ensure a level playing field for exam-takers.
Tonbridge School Headmaster Tim Haynes explained the disparate levels.
“Independent schools are often able to better identify students entitled to extra time because of their needs, due to factors such as smaller class sizes and specialist staff.
“Unfortunately, resources can be lacking in some state maintained schools,” he said.
Last year in GCSE and A-level exams, extra time was awarded to more than 27,000 independent school students – nearly 20 per cent of all candidates in the sector.
In state institutions, about 200,000 students received extra time, constituting fewer than 12 per cent of all state sector students taking the exams.
Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner has called on the government to look at the issue ‘to make sure that no school is abusing the system’.
How is extra time awarded?
Extra time is granted to ensure that candidates who normally need more time are not placed at a disadvantage in an exam.
The exam board must assess the needs of candidates based on their education, health and care plans or statements of special educational need.
This requires formal documents to be submitted on the pupil’s behalf.
The candidate must be shown to have a long-term impairment, and that they are significantly below average in speed of writing, reading, reading comprehension or cognitive processes, leading to them working slowly.
Candidates may not need extra time for every subject.