The rationale for Access Arrangements (AAs)
Access Arrangements are put in place to ensure that students are not significantly disadvantaged by having to spend most of their exam time overcoming their substantial learning difficulty or disability rather than being able to demonstrate their knowledge.
Who are they for?
Access arrangements are for students who are substantially disadvantaged or disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010.
This means they have a physical or mental impairment which substantially affects their day to day activities, and that has lasted, or is likely to last, for a minimum of 12 months.
Some of our students have recognised difficulties and these are not substantial enough to justify awarding an access arrangement.
Criteria to trigger an investigation into Access Arrangements
Students will only be put forward for an investigation into possible access arrangements if there is a history of substantial need within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010 (see above) In addition to a history of need, the access arrangements applied for must reflect a student's normal and established way of working within the setting. The school needs to have established a picture of need and normal way of working during years 7 to 9. This includes AAs for medical conditions, as the investigation into the normal way of working has to take place in the same way as for non-medical SEN.
Staff roles in determining Access Arrangements
SENCo takes the lead on the AA identification process working closely with the SEND team.
The Exams Officer implements and leads the administration of the access arrangements and liaises with the examination board.
Where subject teachers consider that Access Arrangements might be needed and reflect the student's normal way of working within their lesson they must discuss this in the first instance with the SENCo. This is expected to be early in a student’s high school journey during KS3 and not in Y11. Earlier in a student's school life subject staff are expected to recognise and flag up a student's significant need to the SEND team if this has not previously been identified. Where appropriate and where all other criteria are met students could be put forward for an assessment by a qualified assessor. The SENCo is ultimately responsible for deciding the AAs.
Private assessments, reports and medical letters
Any external assessment or report, including private reports and medical letters are only a small part of the process. Access arrangements are not awarded solely on the basis of these reports. The reports might trigger an investigation into whether Access Arrangements are appropriate. If as a school we have no prior awareness of a student's issues prior to receiving the report or medical letter the student does not have a disability that has a substantial adverse impact on their normal day to day activities. Any application we make has to be supported by clear evidence and history within school to avoid being considered malpractice. The JCQ are clear that all applications for Access Arrangements are the decision of the school.
How to make a request for Access Arrangements
Where students meet the criteria of Access Arrangements and have significant needs addressed by an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) the SENCo will discuss AAs with home at meetings and statutory annual reviews throughout their school life.
Where students have a special educational need without an EHCP in place and families feel they meet the criteria outlined for access arrangement consideration the first point of contact is Catherine Emson the school SEND lead administrator. Many students who we acknowledge have some difficulties will not have an impairment that is substantial enough to justify Access Arrangements. As previously stated, in year 11 is too late for this process to begin.
There are exceptional circumstances, for example a student might sustain a significant injury just prior to the examination In these cases families should contact the school's Examination Officer.
Types of access arrangements
As a reflection of the wide range of special educational needs and disabilities across school there is a variety of Access Arrangements available. This includes:
Scribes or Word processing
Live speakers for MFL listening examinations
Supervised Rest Breaks