Are parents exploiting a mental health loophole to get students extra time?
Exam boards have been asked to review their policies following fears that parents are using mental health as an excuse to get students extra time.
The Telegraph reports ‘figures from Ofqual show that 25 per cent extra time is the most popular form of special dispensation for exams, and has increased by 37 per cent over the past four years.’
Chris McGovern, Chair of the Campaign for Real Education, comments: ‘The increase is an indication that parents are becoming more and more aware of how they can play the system.’
Andrew Harland, director of the International Exam Officers’ Association, labels the current system for extra time requests as ‘madness.’ He told The Telegraph ‘extra time is a bone of contention, and it is not being used properly.’
Exam regulator Ofqual has asked the Joint Council for Qualifications (JQC) to conduct a review of its publications on access arrangements, saying their policies should be presented ‘comprehensively’, to avoid misinterpretation.
A JQC spokesperson told The Telegraph that ‘access arrangements should not provide students with an ‘unfair advantage over their peers.’ JQC continued to emphasise ‘the system ensures only those students with a need sot an access arrangement receive one.’
Mental illness affects us all
In an opinion piece for the Metro, model, writer and humanitarian Philomena Kwau discusses the stereotype of ‘the strong black women’ and the invisibility of their mental health struggles.
In the article Philomena considers the perception of mental illness she and women like her, have felt towards mental illness. ‘We tell ourselves lies: mental illness is for weak people, mental illness is for white people… these lies and the stigma that follows is killing us.’
Philomena also considers the guilt she faced when she was struggling with anxiety, she said: ‘I was afraid to talk to anyone about how I felt because I felt silly and weak. I felt I was complaining about minor things when I should have been grateful for what I had – after all, there are people back home who had nothing at all.’
According to The Mental Health Foundation, those who come from black, Asian and ethnic minority groups (BAME) are generally at a higher risk of developing mental health problems. ‘Studies show that PTSD is higher in women of black ethnic origin and this association is related to the higher levels of sexual assaults that they experience; however, women of black ethnic origin are less likely to report or seek help for assaults or trauma.’
Philomena adds, ‘Through therapy, I have been able to get help. Therapy literally saved my life. I’ve come out stronger and more equipped to deal with my problems and openly share them without shame or fear.’
Reality stars join mental health campaign
Contestants from the reality TV show Love Island have been speaking about their own experiences with mental health, as part of the Where’s Your Head At Campaign.
One of the shows stars Alexandra Cane spoke about a difficult period in her life when her mum and boyfriend were both diagnosed with cancer.
The Love Island star said ‘The hardest battle I ever went through was probably, I had four family members die in a year and my boyfriend and then my mum got diagnosed with cancer. That was a really, really hard period for myself and yeah, I got through it.’
She stressed the importance of seeking professional help if people feel they can’t talk to their friends and family, saying: ‘Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger because they will have no judgements.’
According to The Metro, Samira Mighty, another Love Island contestant, has also spoken about her experiences with mental health. The 22 year old discussed the pressure she felt about her appearance in the music industry and how this fuelled her battle with anxiety.
Mighty said: ‘In the past I have struggled to admit that I am stressed, or I have got anxiety. It’s not embarrassing but you don’t want to show that you’re weak.’
In case you missed it…
Every three minutes someone with mental health problems contacts the NHS –Figures show that NHS call centres receive a high level of mental health related calls.
Teenage girls suffer serious mental health problems after sexual assault– A study found that after sexual assault 80% of teenage girls suffer with their mental health.