Access arrangements are the way in which all students are given an equal opportunity when completing exams. This is done to remove barriers that may prevent them from demonstrating their knowledge, giving them the same opportunities as their peers. Access arrangements are not intended to give some students an advantage, but to give all students a fair opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. The Equality Act 2010 requires an awarding body to make reasonable adjustments where a candidate, who is disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010, would be at a disadvantage in comparison to their peers.
According to statutory guidance, disability means ‘limitations going beyond the normal differences in ability which may exist among people’. A candidate with a disability or difficulty, which has a substantial and long-term effect on performance in examinations, may qualify for access arrangements. To do this, the academy must assess each learner and make justifiable, professional judgements about their ability to successfully complete and achieve the qualifications. Access Arrangements is an umbrella term for a wide range of provisions which may include being allowed to sit examinations in a smaller room, supervised rest breaks, use of colour overlays, prompter, extra time, reader, scribe, use of a word processor, practical assistant, etc.
There are several ways in which a student may be highlighted for Access Arrangements testing:
OCA must then compile evidence that supports each candidate’s particular need for arrangements. A number of standardised tests are used to assess areas such as speed of handwriting and phonological processing. Screening assessments will begin in the summer term of Year 9 and access arrangements tests will begin in Autumn term of Year 10. This allows for gathering of information from staff, parents, and any other relevant professionals, and completing Form 8, before the application deadline in Year 11.