Prime Minister to work with MP to find resolution for Eastbourne schoolgirl with cancer amid exam concerns

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said that he will work with MP Caroline Ansell to ‘find a resolution’ for an Eastbourne schoolgirl with cancer who may miss her exams.

Nigel Jewell, who is James’ father and a deputy headteacher at St Catherine’s College in Eastbourne, said if a child misses an exam because of an illness they are marked as absent and if they do attend they only receive an extra five per cent as a special consideration.

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On Wednesday, March 15, at Prime Minister’s Questions Mrs Ansell asked Mr Sunak to ‘look compassionately’ at Lara’s situation while talking about the possibility of children in her position receiving centre assessed grades.

Lara Kyprianou-Hickman (right) with her mum Sophia KyprianouLara Kyprianou-Hickman (right) with her mum Sophia Kyprianou
Lara Kyprianou-Hickman (right) with her mum Sophia Kyprianou

She said: “Lara, my very brave young constituent, is now battling cancer and will not sit the GCSE exams she has worked so hard for and could be left with only a certificate of recognition. In exceptional circumstances such as these why can’t the same principle apply [for centre assessed grades]?”

Mr Sunak responded: “I want to start by sending my best wishes to Lara and thanking my honourable friend for raising her case in parliament. Of course it is incredibly upsetting and challenging for children and young people to be diagnosed with a serious illness and especially so close to their exams.

"Now there are allowances that are made, and in the first instance students will speak to their school or their college to make those reasonable adjustments, but I will be happy to make sure that we work with my honourable friend to find a resolution in Lara’s case.”

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Mrs Ansell has also met with the Government’s Minister of State at the Department for Education, Nick Gibb, to discuss Lara’s situation.

Eastbourne MP Caroline AnsellEastbourne MP Caroline Ansell
Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell

The MP said: “Centre assessed grades were instituted in pandemic years to allow students hit by closures to move forward with their lives. Two of my sons fell into this provision. So we have the ‘architecture’ to award grades in this way. There is surely a case. The minister and I are looking at all the details.”