Education reforms unfair for teenagers with type 1 diabetes, charity says

Jack Woodfield
Thu, 23 May 2019
Education reforms unfair for teenagers with type 1 diabetes, charity says
Pupils with type 1 diabetes taking GCSEs and A-Levels exams in England this summer are being put at a disadvantage following reforms leading to a focus on assessments, it has been claimed.

Type 1 diabetes charity JDRF has raised concerns after the Department for Education removed coursework in place of 100% exams following two years of study.

This new format is making already stressful situations even more challenging for people with long-term health conditions, JDRF says, leading to teenagers with type 1 diabetes worrying they will receive lower grades as a result.

Teenagers with the condition are now having to "struggle" through the exam season, managing their blood glucose levels while needing to concentrate academically.

JDRF's Chief Executive in the UK Karen Addington said the exam reforms "could have a disproportionate impact" on students with long-term health conditions, including those with type 1 diabetes.

"Type 1 diabetes makes exams harder - and exams can make managing health with type 1 diabetes harder," she said. "People with type 1 diabetes have to continuously monitor their blood glucose levels to prevent them from going too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia) […] so for those with type 1 diabetes, exam stress can have both a larger impact upon exam performance and a direct impact upon health."

Caroline, the mother of 16-year-old Iona McKenzie, 16, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged six, has spoken out against the abolition of coursework in.

She told JDRF: "On the first day of her exams she was up in the night with a hypo which she needed to treat. She got herself stable but when she got in the car, her levels jumped because she was worrying about the exam. This caused her to start panicking about her levels staying too high during the exam, meaning she would have fuzzy vision, brain fog and feel sick.

University student Gem Pettitt said his type 1 diabetes had an impact of his A-Level exams. He said: "I am at university now and did get the grades I needed in the end, but they were all one grade lower than my predicted grades and I had to struggle my way through the exam period with high blood glucose levels day in, day out."

If you're struggling at school with blood glucose levels and hypos then visit our Hypo Program, an education platform which provides learning and resources on diabetes management at school and university.
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