If you like what you see, why not subscribe to the blog? You can follow Ampers' Rants by adding your email address in the box below (left) Notifications are also shown on my Twitter account: AmpersUK.

You may link to my blog but if you want to copy my article to your own blog, please give the following credit: From "Ampers' Rants" at Thank you.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Schoolgirl wins right to use her iPod in exams as she can't concentrate unless she's listening to music

A schoolgirl has won the right to use an iPod while sitting her exams - after claiming she can only concentrate while listening to her favourite music.

The girl won the unprecedented concession after threatening legal action against her school and examination authorities.
The Mary Erskine School for girls in Edinburgh, where boarders pay nearly £18,000 a year, has been forced to buy a new iPod that is loaded with the girl's choice of music by a teacher - to ensure no exam answers are hidden among the tracks.

Staff had initially refused the request, fearing it would open the door to the possibility of cheating.

The girl's parents then took her case to the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) examination board, which also ruled it out.

However, it was forced to back down after reportedly being threatened with legal action under the Equalities Act because the girl, a year six pupil, (equivalent to year 13 in England) often struggles to pay attention in class.

SQA bosses have allowed the pupil, who is in the middle of her Higher exams, to listen to the iPod as long as it can be 'proved not to contain any prompts'.
School staff are understood to be unhappy with the decision but were forced to comply as the SQA is the governing body for Higher examinations.

The pupil has to sit in a separate area to prevent the noise from her headphones distracting other students.

The move has been allowed under what the SQA calls 'special arrangements'.  Now, SQA chiefs are bracing themselves for a flood of similar claims. Exam invigilators are also furious because loading the iPod has added to their workload.

Read more:


Not totally believing this story I emailed the school and received this reply from the Principal.

Dear Mr Taylor,

The school did not buy the iPod.  The parent was required to buy the iPod, provide it to the school unopened, after which we “road tested” it.  Music was then brought in by the pupil, put on to the iPod and then the whole system was checked to ensure there were no cryptic messages which might have compromised the integrity of the examination.

I’m afraid that in these details, as in one or two others, the newspaper article which you read was inaccurate.

Yours sincerely,

David Gray
Stewart's Melville College and The Mary Erskine School


Trevor R Nunn said...

Is she now looking for a group who will put all the answers to typical exam questions into song?

Ampers Taylor said...

Ha! Who knows :-)

But the school shouldn't have bought a new ipod. They should have said they will do it but that the student would have to bring in their ipod a few days before. The iPod would be wiped clean, and the student would have to bring in legally acquired music and this would be transferred by the school.

That would have resulted in everything being quietly dropped.

Trouble is, people don't think.

Ampers Taylor said...

The school did think, and from the letter from the Principal it seems the parents were willing to buy a second iPod for the school to examine, and they wouldn't have done this if the child didn't have a permanent disability as, after all, she must have a permanent disability if she can't concentrate without music.