Access arrangements

Some students with Special Educational Needs and/or a disability may qualify for adjustments with exams, these are known as ‘access arrangements‘ and you can read the full regulations and guidance that settings must consider on the JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications) website. (for SATS this will be with the Standards and Testing Agency)

If you believe your child may qualify talk to school, this will usually be with the SENCO or the examinations lead. Consider whether you have any school, specialist or medical reports that might help to evidence any adjustments.

‘The purpose of an access arrangement/reasonable adjustment is to ensure, where possible, that barriers to assessment are removed for a disabled candidate preventing him/her from being placed at a substantial disadvantage due to persistent and significant difficulties’

4.2.1 of the JCQ Access Arrangements regulations

  • Not all children with SEND will qualify. Decisions are based on the need/s of the child and their normal way of working.
  • Access arrangements should be considered at the start of a course.
  • Settings can decide on some adjustments, such as supervised rest breaks, and for other types, such as extra time, they must make an application by the published deadline.
  • Settings must evidence there is a need for the adjustment, and that this is the normal way of working for the child.
  • Decisions should be on a subject-by-subject basis, there are some examples in the JCQ guidance.

Assessing pupils with learning difficulties

Sometimes the assessor is someone within setting, or it could be an outsourced independent assessor. The JCQ guidance explains the requirements of this role further:

Sometimes the assessor is someone within school, or it could be that school will outsource to an independent assessor, the JCQ guidance explains the requirements of this role further:

All assessors must:

  • have a thorough understanding of the current edition of the JCQ publication Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments and the principles, procedures and accountabilities involved;
  • be familiar with the Equality Act 2010 (although it is not their role to determine what is a “reasonable adjustment”, but rather to help identify access arrangements that might assist the candidate);
  • hold an appropriate qualification to teach and make recommendations for secondary aged or adult learners who have learning difficulties.’

(7.3.4 of the JCQ Access Arrangements Regulations 2022 to 2023)