Campaigners have accused parents of “gaming the system” over the “scandal” of record numbers of GCSE and A-level students being given extra time to complete exams.

Children who suffer from learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyspraxia or ADHD are typically among those given extra time in exams.

An application to their exam board supported by a teacher qualified in assessing children with special needs is often required.

Ten years ago exam boards agreed 135,200 cases where students were allowed 25 percent more time to finish answering the questions. Last year that figure had risen to 334,375.

Before Covid struck in 2020 there were 256,710 cases. The allowance means that for a typical two-hour exam students would get an additional 30 minutes.

But Christopher McGovern, chairman of the Cam-paign for Real Education, said: “This is a growing scandal which is aided and abetted by some teachers and pushy parents who are being incentivised to have their child classified as ‘special needs’.

It brings a range of benefits including more support in class and extra time in exams.

“It is no surprise then that the number gaining the classification has exploded in recent years.

“Genuine ‘special needs’ cases no longer seem very special and do not get
the consideration they deserve.

“To dissuade parents from gaming the system, exam certificates should specify any allowances made and the reasons why.”

A spokesman for Ofqual said: “The number of students allowed extra time in exams varies between individual schools and colleges.

“Every student’s circumstances are unique, so the data on the number of applications for extra time does not indicate reasons for that variation.

“Schools and colleges must follow the rules set by the Joint Council for Qualifications and use the same application system.

“Ofqual has previously asked exam boards to look at those schools and colleges where numbers of approved requests appear to be relatively high or low. We plan to do this again this year.”

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