New exams discriminate against dyslexics.

The new English Baccalaureate Certificate, which is to replace GCSE examinations, will have a detrimental effect on those with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, claims a leading charity.

Under plans announced by Education Secretary Michael Gove, the GCSE’s mix of external exams, course work and internal assessment will be replaced by a single external exam at the end of the course. The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) is concerned that the new exam will severely disadvantage learners with dyslexia who do not perform at their best in exams.

Dyslexics often under-perform in exam conditions.
Dyslexics often under-perform in exam conditions.

Many people with dyslexia have problems processing information quickly and accessing and recording written information. These difficulties can be exacerbated by stress in examination conditions, making it hard for students with dyslexia to fully demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of a subject in a one-off, timed examination. “These plans will create an additional barrier for dyslexic students to continue on to higher education”, says Dr Kate Saunders, the charity’s CEO. “Course work is generally a much fairer method of assessment and constitutes a reasonable adjustment for these students”.

The BDA is lobbying the Government to scrap its plans for the new exams on the grounds that they will discriminate against those with specific learning difficulties.

The English Baccalaureate Certificate is due to be introduced for the core subjects of English, maths and sciences from 2015, with the first candidates taking the new exams in 2017. The Government is planning to introduce the Certificate for history, geography and languages at a later date, and is currently consulting on including other subjects in the programme.