Adolescents with language difficulties in their final year of compulsory education: An exploration into perceptions towards GCSE examinations
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An abundance of literature emphasises poorer academic attainment at school-leaving age for adolescents with language impairment (LI). The number of pupils with LI entered for GCSE examinations continues to rise, yet there is little research available on their perceptions of exams and exam preparation. To address this, the current study investigated GCSE exams from the perspectives of adolescents in their final year of compulsory schooling. Three Year 11 pupils with LI participated in the study. A semi-structured interview was conducted to explore their perceptions on support for GCSE exams and exam preparation. Data were analysed according to Interpretative Phenomenology Analysis, permitting exploration and interpretation of the themes that emerged. The participants discussed the types of support provided in preparation for, and during, exams, alongside how they engage with this support. Overall, opportunities provided by school and teachers were largely considered positive, but some barriers to effective support were also highlighted. Positive aspects included practice tests and revision sessions, providing past papers, and access arrangements. Limited recapping of curricular content and fast-paced teaching styles were exposed as barriers. This study provided interesting insights into support for adolescents with LI at key stage 4. With the current change to the nature of GCSEs, such as introducing more demanding content, adolescents’ perceptions are particularly important to inform timely, appropriate and effective support. Findings from this study would benefit from further development, particularly as insights can have implications for provision and subsequent academic attainment and employment outcomes for adolescents with LI.
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