Exam access arrangements are the reasonable adjustments that can be made for students to make exams more accessible for students with special educational needs (SEN). Reasonable adjustments might include things like extra time to complete the exam, the use of assistive technology, (AT) or breaks during an exam.
An access arrangement can be put in place if it’s the student’s “normal way of working” during everyday lessons. Reasonable adjustments must reflect the support a student has been receiving over the last few years, as well as assessment test results.
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An exam access arrangement means that one or more aspects of the exam conditions have been altered so that a student with a disability can fully demonstrate their mastery in any given subject. Access arrangements generally mirror any reasonable adjustments made for the student in the normal classroom environment, generally referred to as a student’s “normal way of working.” Some of the most common access arrangements include:
JCQ, the exams governing body defines special considerations as, “a post-examination adjustment to a candidate's mark or grade. This is to reflect temporary illness, temporary injury or some other event outside of the candidate's control at the time of the assessment.” Special considerations are separate from exam access arrangements and can only be applied after the exam has been completed, and only in short term or temporary circumstances. Like exam access arrangements the application for special considerations do need to be supported by evidence.
SEN students with documented disabilities must be allowed to use assistive technology (AT) in exams if it’s their normal way of working.
AT used during exams makes sure that every student can show their knowledge and mastery to the best of their abilities. AT is a means of levelling the playing field for SEN students. Exam scenarios where students can use text-to-speech, or speech-to-text technology gives the student the opportunity to sit a test independently, without relying on a teacher or other human intervention.
Any tool that a student already uses in a classroom environment may be approved for use during exams.
The most common AT access arrangements are:
The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) recommends that access arrangements for exams are part of a student's "normal way of working". But what does this mean and what does this look like in a busy classroom environment?
In this episode, we're putting these questions and more to Simon Tanner from Bohunt Education Trust. Simon shares his experience as Director of SEND in supporting students to produce their best work and have the right opportunities come exam time.