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Case Study – Examination Appeal Success

An MDS member contacted the contact centre seeking advice regarding an examination appeal. The Doctor had sat this particular written examination on numerous occasions and had only missed the pass mark by 1% on each occasion. The Doctor had recently discovered that she had a protected characteristic which should have allowed her 25% extra time allocation to sit the examination. The doctor had previously approached the Examination Board with a request for extra time based on the discovery but it had not been granted on her two previous examination sittings.

MDS Advice
MDS advisors reviewed the matter in detail with the Doctor and felt there was a strong enough case to support an appeal against this recent decision. It was felt that the Examination Board had breached the Doctors rights under the Equality Act 2010 with reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic. The Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010 and aimed to harmonise discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment. In relation to disability equality the Equality Act absorbed and supersedes the Disability Discrimination Act (1995, 2006), and The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (2001). By doing this it made Higher Education Institutions develop key responsibilities in:
• A prohibition on discrimination arising from disability
• A duty to make reasonable adjustments

In the Act, a person has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment (this includes specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, and other conditions such as Asperger Syndrome as well as physical and sensory impairments). Long term in relation to the definition of disability means:
• It has lasted for at least 12 months
• It is likely to last for at least 12 months, or
• It is likely to last for the rest of the life of the person

The Doctor was assessed as having a working memory problem which fell under the category of SpLD. This was independently verified by an SpLD expert.

Learning Points
The Equality Act provides a duty upon Higher Education Institutes to make reasonable adjustments so a disabled student does not face ‘substantial disadvantage’ in comparison with non-disabled people – everyone should be given a ‘level playing field’. In this instance the reasonable adjustment would have been to allow the candidate an extra 25% extra time to complete the examination. These reasonable adjustments were not made available to this Doctor on more than one occasion. MDS assisted the Doctor with writing and collating the necessary information for the appeal for one more extra attempt to sit the examination.

After investigating the contents of the appeal, the Examination Board decided to grant this Doctor two extra attempts at the examination with 25 % extra time added.