Schoolgirl wins right to use iPod in exams

London: A schoolgirl in Scotland who claims she can’t concentrate when she doesn’t listen to music has been allowed — in an unprecedented concession — to use her iPod after she threatened to take legal action against the school authorities.

The Mary Erskine School in Edinburgh 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. The 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, according to the Mail.

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”, the source said.

School staff is 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.

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.

They fear traditional exam invigilation will be severely disrupted because hundreds of other pupils’ iPods may have to be checked.

“I would have thought the whole idea of using an iPod, or any other portable music device, in an exam would be ridiculous,” the Mail quoted Nick Seaton, spokesman for the Campaign for Real Education, as saying. “Exams are a serious matter and they lose their integrity when some pupils are treated differently from others.”

Linda Moule, deputy head at The Mary Erskine School, confirmed that the pupil has been allowed to use an iPod. (IANS)