What is the purpose of Access Arrangements? Access Arrangements are the way examination boards meet their duties under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments for candidates who may have persistent and significant difficulties as defined in the SEND Code of Practice (2015) and the Joint Council for Qualifications published Access Arrangements, which would place them at a substantial disadvantage in accessing examinations compared to other candidates. The intention is that the Access Arrangement should meet the needs of the candidate without affecting the integrity of the assessment. It is stipulated by the Joint Council for Qualifications that candidates with Exam Access Arrangements must not be unfairly advantaged through Exam Access arrangements.
How is an application made? The SENDCo/Exams Access Assessor is made aware of concerns regarding a pupil having a disability or learning difficulty either from screening tests which are carried out in school, information from a previous school, or through referral from one of the pupil’s teachers. Requests for Access Arrangements should not come directly from pupils or parents. If pupils or parents have a concern, they should approach the pupil’s Form Tutor in the first instance.
When should an application be made? All applications for Access Arrangements should be made at the beginning of the GCSE course of study i.e. late in Year 9 and in Years 10 and 12.
What evidence is required? The evidence of need will vary depending on the pupil’s perceived need and the Access Arrangement for which application is made. Different GCSE qualifications have different criteria for Access Arrangements, and different subjects make different demands of the pupil, so each application is considered in the light of the specific criteria and need.
Which Access Arrangement should be applied for? Neither pupils nor parents apply for a specific Access Arrangement. Based on the evidence gathered in school, including from appropriate assessments carried out in line with the Joint Council for Qualifications’ Regulations, the SENDCo/Exams Access Assessor will make a judgement as to the most appropriate Access Arrangement in each individual case. To maintain the integrity of the assessment, this will be the least significant arrangement which appropriately addresses the pupil’s needs.
Who can provide the evidence? Evidence will be sought from the pupil, from the pupil’s teachers and from other data the school holds on the pupil, such as scores from nationally standardised tests. The pupil’s Normal Way of Working must be in line with the Access Arrangements applied for e.g. if a pupil is allowed to use a laptop in a specific exam, this must the pupil’s usual or ‘normal’ way of working in class to record written work. Additional evidence of need may be sought from the SENDCo/Exams Access Assessor using Joint Council for Qualifications -approved further appropriate tests.
Who decides whether an Access Arrangement should be granted? In all cases it is the school who makes the decision about whether the Access Arrangement should be applied for. Some access Arrangements need only to be approved by the SENDCo and accompanied by a File Note; other Access Arrangements must be applied for online by Trumpington’s Examinations Officer and are subject to approval by the Joint Council for Qualifications. Evidence from other professionals may count towards this decision but, in line with the relevant regulations, it is Trumpington who make the final decision to apply for the Access Arrangement in all cases.
Can an Access Arrangement, once granted, be removed? If the candidate is seen by the centre (Trumpington Community College) to make no use of an Exam Access Arrangement – such as refusing to utilise a 25% Extra Time allowance - then the centre has the right to remove that Access Arrangement.
When is it appropriate to use external assessors? A privately commissioned assessment carried out without the prior consultation with the school cannot be used to award Access Arrangements and cannot be used to process an application. Any external assessor must have an established relationship with the school or, prior to the assessment, establish a relationship with the school. This includes the school holding records of the assessor’s qualifications and the assessor having the appropriate evidence of the candidate’s needs from the school before the assessment is carried out. In line with the Joint Council for Qualifications’ Regulations, the school can choose not to accept the findings of external assessors.
Can doctors grant access arrangements? Evidence from a medical professional should be to state the impact of a disability or injury on a candidate and how they will work. Medical evidence from appropriate medical professionals will be considered in the decision about the granting of Access Arrangements; however, the decision about granting the access arrangement does not lie with the medical professional but with the school. For long term impairments the evidence should be from a Consultant or Registrar, or a Clinical Paediatrician. It is for Trumpington Community College to determine which access arrangement is most appropriate considering the medical evidence provided. All supporting medical letters must be dated and hand signed.
Transfer from previous school? For Access Arrangements to roll forward from a previous school to Trumpington Community College, we must have an established working relationship with that school.
Do Access Arrangements apply to all subjects? No, Access Arrangements can be granted specific to individual subjects, as the demands and hence the need for the arrangement will vary from one subject to another.
When do teachers refer pupils that they teach? Teachers should refer pupils at the earliest opportunity to the SENDCo/Exam Access Assessor and provide appropriate evidence alongside any concerns.
What could I do if I wished to query the outcome? Parents wishing to query the outcome of an assessment for an Access Arrangement should write to the SENDCo.
Can parents contact Joint Council for Qualifications directly? The Joint Council for Qualifications will not engage in communication about Access Arrangements with parents directly. All communications about access arrangements with Joint Council for Qualifications are through the school.
Where can I find out more information? Access Arrangements for all GCSE examinations are governed by https://www.jcq.org.uk/exams-office/access-arrangements-and-special-consideration/ This document is updated annually.
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