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Bad timing

This website has often lamented British attitudes towards children. No more is this antipathy more in evidence than in the current debate regarding extra time in exams. The numbers of students who are requesting and getting extra time in exams is on the increase, studies suggest. Often it is because they may have a disability of some kind, require assistance of some measure, or are dyslexic. With the increase comes the insinuation that perfectly able kids are somehow hoodwinking the system and teachers, eager to see their exam results improve, are only happy to oblige.

This argument belittles the excellent work that many students with learning disabilities do. It ignores the valuable work of support staff. And what’s more, it once again proves just how insensitive British culture is to the needs and concerns of young people. Ask any student what their top three worries in life are and finishing an exam will almost always make an appearance. The fact is that almost all exams are too short. Only a country that valued its children would recognise this. Unicef recently described British children as the most unhappiest in the developed world. Only a government that cared about young people would dismantle a soul destroying, mentally unhealthy system of trial by timed assessment. Will Gordon Brown’s government rise to this challenge? Time is running low.

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