SENCos are advised to have a robust system in place for the screening and assessment of students who may need access arrangements in their exams and assessments. The JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications) team of inspectors visit centres at random to check on paperwork and practice and they will expect SENCos to demonstrate that students who may need arrangements have been identified, assessments carried out, applications made online and appropriate evidence is on file.
The most important deadlines are 21 January for modified paper applications and 21 February for access arrangements applications to be in place for the summer series. All applications for students taking exams (Year 11, 12, 13 and Years 1 & 2 in Further Education) in May and June must be made by this date.
Key actions for the autumn term
With this in mind it is wise to start work on access arrangements in the autumn term. New regulations come into force on 1 September, so SENCos should start by updating their knowledge of the regulations, identifying changes for the current year. This can be done by reading the regulations or attending a training event designed to cover the changes to the new regulations.
Many secondary SENCos carry out screening with Year 9 students to ensure that no one who needs arrangements is missed. Lucid Exact, an electronic test assessing literacy skills, is ideal for screening students in a group. As well as identifying those with low literacy scores, it is important to consider students with Statements of Special Needs or Education Health and Care Plan, with sensory impairments, physical disabilities, English as an additional language, psychological or emotional needs.
Students identified by approved assessments (such as Lucid Exact) as possibly entitled to exam access arrangements will need further assessment by an Access Arrangements Assessor. These assessors are required to hold a level 7 (postgraduate) qualification covering at least 100 hours on the subject of individual assessment. If centres to not have a member of staff with such a qualification, PATOSS or Communicate-ed may be able to direct you to a suitably qualified local assessor.
When assessments have been carried out, Form 8 (the format to record the results of assessments) is completed by the assessor (Section C). Ideally the SENCo will already have completed Section A. Applications for most arrangements must be made through Access Arrangements Online (the system for applying for arrangements for all the JCQ Awarding Bodies).
If systems are in place to identify students when they start their courses, it should be possible to make applications in plenty of time for the deadlines outlined above.
Communicate-ed offers training in all aspects of Access Arrangements, including the Postgraduate Award of Proficiency in Assessment for Access Arrangements (PAPAA), which meets the JCQ requirements for an Access Arrangements Assessor: www.communicate-ed.org.uk/papaa .
For a course covering the JCQ regulations and procedures please go to: www.communicate-ed.org.uk/courses/jcq-examination-access-arrangements-training-for-new-delegates