20-04-2017 | New ASTI motion could help Leaving Cert students with epilepsy

'20-04-2017 | New ASTI motion could help Leaving Cert students with epilepsy' image

Epilepsy Ireland welcomes the motion passed yesterday by the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) at their Annual Conference, which gives seriously ill and bereaved pupils a second chance to sit their Leaving Certificate.

The ASTI is calling on the Department of Education to arrange a second series of exams in the summer or autumn. Any student who also experiences major physical trauma or mental crisis will also be eligible to repeat the exam according to the motion.

Speaking about the vote which was emphatically passed in Killarney, Epilepsy Ireland CEO, Peter Murphy said: "Repeat examinations for students affected by epilepsy (and other episodic conditions) is something we have been advocating for some time at Epilepsy Ireland, in addition to a fundamental review of the existing RACE scheme. We are delighted to see that ASTI is also supporting the need for repeat Leaving Cert examinations which is a matter of significant concern to a number of students with epilepsy and their families each year.

"Epilepsy is the most prevalent serious neurological condition in childhood affecting up to 1% of children. It is a chronic, individual, often unpredictable condition and can in many cases have a significant impact on a child's education. Its impact is perhaps most acute in the circumstance where a student experiences a seizure during or before an exam. Typically, this will either cause the student to miss the exam or at best, prevent them from performing anywhere near their best on the day.

"We estimate that each year there will be 500-600 students with epilepsy sitting the Leaving Cert exams and that at least 1/3 of these students have uncontrolled seizures. For these students in particular, the threat of a seizure is a constant worry that can in an instant destroy years of hard work preparing for a terminal exam. We work with families every year in this situation and for some, the fear becomes a reality forcing students to unnecessarily repeat their Leaving Cert a year later. Unfortunately, existing accommodations (e.g. additional time, rest periods or a separate room) do not compensate for the often severe after-effects of a seizure which can include exhaustion, confusion, nausea, headache, disorientation or even temporary amnesia.

"It is also likely that students with other chronic or episodic conditions are similarly affected. The option to repeat the exam is one of a number of measures we believe could help ensure a level playing field and remove the impact of their disability on their exam performance."