ONE in three Newcastle Grammar School students were given help last year under the disability provisions of the HSC exam.
Greens MLC John Kaye questioned why 33per cent of Grammar students were helped this way when the state-wide figure was just 7per cent.
‘‘On the surface it just doesn’t add up,’’ Mr Kaye said.
‘‘It’s hard to understand how an exclusive, non-government school can have such a run of problems that one-third of its students are claiming special needs.
‘‘I think the kids doing the HSC at Newcastle High School would look up the hill to the Grammar School and say they are getting an unfair advantage.’’
But Newcastle Grammar principal Alan Green hit back at Mr Kaye, saying the applications had been approved by the NSW Board of Studies.
‘‘Is he criticising Newcastle Grammar for supporting its students the best it can and for making application to the board of studies?’’ Mr Green said.
‘‘If other schools are not doing the same, maybe we should be asking why the rates are so low.’’
Mr Green denied that pressures at the school had resulted in a rise in applications but said last year was ‘‘different from most years’’.
Mr Kaye said he had been tracking the disability provisions of the HSC since 2008 and it was obvious over time that some schools, generally in the private system, were making greater use of the scheme than others.
A school-by-school breakdown published on the Board of Studies website shows Newcastle Grammar ranked third behind two distance schools in using the provisions.
Hunter Valley Grammar School at Maitland had 15 of its 78 students assisted, while Hunter Sports High at Gateshead had 3 of 68.
The Board of Studies published a review of the system last April, which recommended various changes including a new name to remove the stigma of ‘‘disability provisions’’.
The board says any student with a recognised disability can apply for help. The categories included physical, intellectual, psychiatric, sensory or neurological disability, as well as learning disability, physical disfigurement and the presence in the body of disease-causing organisms.
The review said some schools complained about the amount of paperwork needed to accompany applications.