Eastbourne student's heartbreak as cancer diagnosis destroys exam hopes

  • Watch ITV Meridian's Tom Savvides' report

A student from Eastbourne in East Sussex diagnosed with cancer says years of working for her GCSEs may have been for nothing, as she's too ill to sit the exams.

16-year-old Lara Kyprianou-Hickman is undergoing treatment including chemotherapy for Hodgkin's Lymphoma and is unlikely to be well enough by the May exams.

The Government is being asked to find a resolution - similar to when students were assessed by their teachers during the covid pandemic.

The Department for Education is urging students like Lara to contact their school or college who can raise the issues with exam boards directly.

Lara says "I can't sit the GCSEs that I've trained my whole life for.

"I've done literally everything and I've put in the effort just to find out it's all for nothing."

  • Lara and her mother Sophia speaking to ITV Meridian

Lara's mother Sophia says she is too unwell to revise, and can't go to school because she's asleep a lot of the time.

She said: "Lara's proven she can pass her exams. Let her just have what she and other kids in her position deserve."

Students have set up a petition, demanding that examination boards adjust the rules for students who are too ill to sit their GCSEs.

So far it has attracted almost 5,000 signatures.

Speaking in the Commons last week, Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell called for the Prime Minister to step in.

She said: "Would my Right Honourable Friend the Prime Minister look compassionately at this situation?

In response, the Prime Minister said: "Of course, it's incredibly upsetting and challenging for children and young people to be diagnosed with a serious illness, and especially so close to their exams.

"But I'll be happy to make sure that we work to find a resolution in Lara's case."

Lara and her family are calling on the Government to allow students with serious illnesses to be allowed to use their mock exam results Credit: ITV Meridian

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "We fully recognise that exams mark the culmination of a number of years of hard work, and to be diagnosed with any serious illness close to exams will always be an incredibly challenging and upsetting experience.

"As in any year, exam boards have processes in place to assist students whose ability to sit exams is affected by illness or other unforeseen circumstances, including allowing pupils to take exams at home or in hospital or awarding a grade to students who have taken at least one exam or formal assessment in a subject.

"We would encourage students who may find themselves in this position to talk to their school or college who can raise this with exam boards directly to discuss possible arrangements for them to be assessed and receive a grade."

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