Caption: "My writing became illegible and my hand was cramping" ... former school student. Photo: Ben Rushton
A FORMER Abbotsleigh student who is now studying medicine at the University of Sydney is claiming the NSW Board of Studies wrongly refused to grant her special examination provisions in the form of a computer and extra exam time for the 2008 Higher School Certificate.
The 21-year-old woman, who does not wish to be named, was placed fifth in the state in her HSC chemistry exam with a mark in the high 90s in 2007, when she was in year 11. A year later she scored a university entry rank of 99.95, with marks of about 94 per cent in her English and modern history exams.
She was granted rest breaks during the exams in response to her application to the Board of Studies for special examination provisions. She has a disability described as a malfunctioning of the wrist. But she believes she should have been granted a computer or extra time to compensate for cramping in her hand after prolonged periods of writing.
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Had she been granted a computer or extra time, the student believes she would have achieved much higher marks.
''The point isn't that I was doing badly. I did do well, what a normal person would consider well,'' she said.
''But you want your disability to be sufficiently addressed with special examination provisions so that everyone has a capability to communicate what they know in the HSC examinations, otherwise it is not a fair test of your knowledge.
''Marks were lost often towards the end of the paper where my hand fatigued and I wasn't able to complete the paper. My writing became illegible and my hand was cramping.''
The young woman's mother has consistently complained to Abbotsleigh School for Girls in Wahroonga and the NSW Board of Studies since 2008 claiming discrimination against her daughter, saying this had prevented her from achieving her true potential.
The mother believes her daughter was denied the opportunity to achieve higher marks and placement statewide.
The matter was escalated to the Administrative Review Tribunal where it was the subject of a three-day hearing this week.
The NSW Board of Studies hired a senior counsel and another lawyer to defend its case against the young woman who is claiming indirect discrimination on the basis of her disability.
The mother and her daughter believe she could have achieved higher marks had she been given special provisions.
''It would have enabled me to communicate my response in full. I would have been able to continue writing,'' she said.
The student has also claimed the Board of Studies wrongly denied her misadventure claim which was made on the basis that she was not given adequate special provisions for her disability in the exams.
However, Chris Ronalds, SC, representing the Board of Studies, said a successful application under the policy only meant a student was given the higher of their school assessment or exam marks. The young woman had achieved a higher exam mark.
The girl's mother, who was repeatedly warned against interrupting tribunal proceedings, has claimed for four years that Abbotsleigh did not give her daughter a sufficiently high school assessment.
During the tribunal hearing, Ms Ronalds said the former Abbotsleigh student wanted ''the entire Board of Studies policy on special provisions rewritten'' to provide her with a personal advantage.
I wouldn't want this person to be my doctor.