Laois children with learning disability to get more help with exams

Students should get more help thanks the changes in state support rules

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Young people in Laois with learning difficulties caused by Down Syndrome or other issues should get more supports to help them at school thanks state exam rules according to the Ombudsman for Children's Office.

The Office welcomed the changes made by the State Examinations Commission to what is known as the Reasonable Accommodations at Certificate Examinations (RACE) Scheme. It is intended to help students with additional needs to demonstrate their ability in state exams without giving them an unfair advantage.

Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children said Laois children would benefit.

“If implemented fully, the new RACE Scheme should result in a much better experience for young people in Laois and across the country, with learning difficulties who are sitting exams, and therefore a drop in the number of complaints received by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office.

Last year there were 49 individual complaints from Laois, each one affecting one or more children. Many of the Laois complaints were about schools and access to exam supports.

The State Examinations Commission will now accept applications from students who have generalised learning difficulties and not only specific learning difficulties, as was the case. From this year on, accommodations that were provided at Junior Certificate will automatically be reactivated at Leaving Certificate.

The closing date for schools to apply for Leaving Certificate accommodations is 9th December. For Junior Certificate the closing date is 13th January.

“The new RACE Scheme is good news for students in Laois and for their families. The successful implementation of this scheme will support all young people through our education system and help them fulfil their potential,” said the Ombudsman.