This clipping is from the December 8 issue of The Sydney Morning Herald Digital Edition. To subscribe for $4.50 a week, visit http://smh.com.au/digitaledition.

Private students most likely to apply for HSC special consideration

APPROVAL RATE
SMH – Thursday, 8 Dec 2011 – Page 2

DESPITE educating just one in four students with disabilities, private schools accounted for more than half the applications for HSC exam disability provisions this year.

Eleven per cent of HSC students at independent schools sought special consideration, compared with 6 per cent of students at government schools, NSW Board of Studies figures show. Disability provisions were sought by 8.1 per cent of HSC candidates in the Catholic system.

Private school students at a number of Christian schools, Anglican colleges and other highfee schools successfully applied for special provisions at more than three times the rate of their public school counterparts.

Sydney Distance Education High School, with 39 per cent, had the state’s highest rate of successful applicants. Karabar High School and Distance Education Centre in Queanbeyan had the third-highest , with 32.3 per cent. The schools ‘‘ cater for students with additional needs, who access education through distance education’’ , an education department spokesman said.

Any HSC student with a recognised disability, including physical , intellectual or psychiatric problems that may affect their work in class or exams, can apply for special provisions. Eligible students may be granted the use of a computer, readers or writers, extra time for breaks or food and drink if they are diabetic.

There were 5261 applications for consideration from the almost 70,000 students sitting HSC exams. More than 52 per cent were from non-government schools. Less than 7 per cent of applications were declined.

Michele Meltzer, a parent of a child with a learning disability, said it had become harder to obtain disability provisions.

‘‘ You need to go through a complex process of getting reports from a number of different professionals , then you need a report from each teacher saying how the disability affects the work,’’ she said. ‘‘ Because the process has become increasingly complex, some schools are too busy to do it.

‘‘ Private schools are more likely to be able to proactively assist children who have a disability, whereas in disadvantaged areas teachers are less likely to seek it out. When people criticise the process they are really accusing children of cheating, and that is really offensive. These are kids who do it really tough.’’

Laurie Scandrett, the chief executive of the Sydney Anglican Schools Corporation, said the high number of students from Anglican schools seeking disability provisions may be explained by a focus on pastoral care.

‘‘ We don’t knock people back because of disabilities and I think we have a reputation for being caring schools,’’ he said.

‘‘ And because of the caring nature of the teachers they actually go out of their way to make sure the application is made and I know many of schools do that. The provision is there but the provision is no use if you don’t apply for it.’’

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Copyright © 2011 The Sydney Morning Herald
Students approved for HSC exam disability provisions at high-fee schools:

Moriah College 22.6% St Andrew’s 22.1% Danebank 21% The Scots College 19.1% Wenona 18.9% St Catherine’s School 18.3%

Source: NSW Board of Studies

Copyright © 2011 The Sydney Morning Herald