‘Let’s support pupils if they’re ill during exams’

Georgina Thomas
Georgina Thomas

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IMAGINE being in a hospital bed instead of your school hall sitting your GCSE exams.

That was what happened to 16-year-old Georgina Thomas who went to Fareham Academy and had to sit exams in hospital and at home.

Now, her mum Helen is hoping to raise awareness so schools know it’s acceptable for students to sit exams at home under exceptional circumstances.

Georgina suffers from a form of Crohn’s disease and in January had to have her colon removed.

She has missed around 60 per cent of school and recently spent three days in hospital after contracting tonsillitis, which affected her badly due to her weak immune system.

It fell at the start of her exams, meaning she ended up sitting them at Queen Alexandra Hospital and at home.

But Helen, 43, from Langstone Walk in Fareham, said staff at the school were hesitant about having Georgina sit exams at home.

‘We were made to feel this was quite inconvenient to them,’ she said.

‘We got her back to school and she sat one exam.

‘She went in the next day to sit another exam and she was sent home.

‘They realised she wasn’t well enough to be there.

‘As soon as they realised what they could do they bent over backwards to help us.

‘It was all about Georgina and how they could support her work.

‘She has done so much. We were stopping her doing revision because she was working too hard.

‘She’s had a rough year. She had life-changing surgery and she’s done her exams.

‘She wanted to do the exams because she’s put so much work into them.’

Emma Scarrott taught Georgina at QA.

She said: ‘When a child is ill and in hospital, when they get discharged they are well enough to be at home but not in school to sit an exam.

‘If a child isn’t well or has medical needs, it’s the school’s responsibility to ensure that they support the child in the best possible way to get the best possible outcome.

‘A lot of schools don’t realise that special measures can take place.’

Georgina said: ‘At the start the school was a bit hesitant because they thought if I had been released from hospital I should be okay.

‘But as soon as Miss Lowe got involved it was good.

‘Emma had contacted them to say I could do it at home.’

Alex Lowe, deputy head at Fareham Academy, said the school did all it could.

She said: ‘As a school we hold our pastoral care of paramount importance to ensure that each child achieves their best academically and socially.

‘Daily communication was made with Mrs Thomas not only to ascertain whether Georgina was well enough to sit a particular exam so that we could ensure that special consideration was put in place, but also to check on her general wellbeing.’