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RACE application process must be brought forward to ease concerns of students – Lombard

20th June 2024 - Senator Tim Lombard

The application process for the Reasonable Accommodations at Certificate Examinations (RACE) scheme must be brought forward to earlier in the Junior Cycle, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Senator Tim Lombard said: “Currently we have a scenario where the Department of Education approves the use of assistive technology for a student in first year of post-primary school. That student uses that assistive technology every day and it is an invaluable resource that eases pressure on the student.

“Unfortunately, the application process for the RACE scheme only begins in third year, so a student only gets confirmation of this accommodation from the State Examination Commission a few months before the Junior Cycle state examination begins.

“The fact that a student doesn’t get confirmation of the accommodation until well into third year is a source of unnecessary stress and anxiety for both students and parents. This is particularly worrying if a student is not successful in their initial application and needs to put forward an appeal before their exams begin.

“This late process could be easily resolved by bringing forward the application process for RACE to first or second year, so students are sure their accommodation is guaranteed.

“It’s a quick fix which would bring certainty and relief to students and their parents early in the Junior Cycle programme and remove a major source of anxiety.

“I’m also urging the Minister for Education to prioritise the promised review of the RACE scheme which includes the consideration of additional time for Dyslexic students. Over 13,000 students with Dyslexia sat state exams this June and unlike students in the UK and European countries, they did not have additional time as an accommodation.

“We need to prioritise the RACE scheme review, the timeline of two to three years given by the SEC for this just doesn’t work.

“We need a greater sense of urgency and a commitment to bring forward the application process for the RACE scheme so that students are assured they have access to assistive technology for their state exams”, concluded Senator Lombard.

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