Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children.
The Ombudsman for Children’s Office, has welcomed the changes made by the State Examinations Commission to the Reasonable Accommodations at Certificate Examinations (RACE) Scheme. Changes to this scheme reflect directly the recommendations made by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office in a report published in June.
Commenting on the changes made to the RACE scheme, Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children said:
“If implemented fully, the new RACE Scheme should result in a much better experience for young people in Longford 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.
“In 2015, we received 16 individual complaints from Longford, each one affecting one or more children. With 45% of our complaints relating to education, it is not surprising to find that many of the Longford complaints were about schools and access to exam supports.
“In a report we published in June, we highlighted problems with communication, fairness and oversight of the RACE scheme that were affecting students seeking exam support. I feel all of these issues have now been addressed.
“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 new criteria now puts in place a specific decision timeframe, as well as deadlines for applications. Students will no longer be finding out in the final year, or in the final weeks, of school if they would be receiving accommodations for exams.
“Students, teachers and parents should note that the closing date for schools to apply for Leaving Certificate accommodations is 9th December and a decision will be given before the end of February 2017. For Junior Certificate the closing date is 13th January and decisions will be given before the end of April 2017.
“It is vital now that the State Examinations Commission ensures that all schools are adequately supported and trained to successfully transition to the new scheme, and that a review mechanism is in place to identify and address any initial problems.
“The new RACE Scheme is good news for students in Longford 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.”