Paediatricians put a price on HSC

MANY HSC students who come from poorer backgrounds with medical or learning difficulties are missing out on special assistance with exams, according to paediatricians.

As reported in Fairfax Media on Wednesday, students from independent schools applied for disability provisions, which includes assistance such as rest breaks or a scribe, at almost twice the rate of public school students last year.

The figures are almost identical to those for 2011, which prompted the NSW Ombudsman to launch an investigation into the ''drivers and barriers'' to the program.

Dr Michael Freelander, a paediatrician at Campbelltown, said he saw ''lots of kids with disabilities who never get access to the provisions because either their parents or the school don't act on what's allowable''.

''They don't have families who can push hard enough, get the forms … take them along to doctors, interact back with the school.''

The figures show 11 per cent of HSC students in independent schools applied for disability provisions, compared to 6 per cent of public school students.

Dr Andrew McDonald, also a paediatrician and the Labor MP for Maquarie Fields, said poor access to medical specialists was a major factor in some teenagers not being diagnosed or applying.

''If you can't pay for a psychiatrist in Campbelltown, you tend not to see them,'' he said.

A 2011 report commissioned by the Board of Studies identified access to specialists as one disadvantage faced by some students from poorer backgrounds.

A spokeswoman from the Board of Studies said all applications were considered in a ''fair and consistent manner'' and that information explaining the program was communicated to students and schools.

The story Paediatricians put a price on HSC first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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