Access arrangements FAQ

Access Arrangements FAQs


What is JCQ?

JCQ is the Joint Council for Qualifications. It is an organization made up of the 8 largest qualification providers in the UK. It provides guidance on exam administration, to include access arrangements, and on qualifications. More information about the JCQ can be found here https://www.jcq.org.uk/about-us/


What are access arrangements?

These are reasonable adjustments that are made before the examination and are specific to the individual candidate. They allow candidates with special educational needs, disabilities or temporary injuries to access the assessment without changing the demands of the assessment. They allow for a level playing field to be achieved due to overcoming a substantial disadvantage when they are applied. This means that the Awarding Bodies (organisations that set the exam papers, such as AQA) will comply with the duty of the Equality Act 2010 to make ‘reasonable adjustments’. Access arrangements are based on a candidate’s need and must reflect the candidate’s normal way of working. Examples include 25% extra time or the use of a scribe.


How would I know if my child requires access arrangements?

If your child is experiencing any of the difficulties below, they may be eligible for access arrangements. These include slow and/or inaccurate reading, slow and/or illegible handwriting, difficulty maintaining concentration and paying attention, difficulties copying from the board, struggling to remember instructions, speech and language difficulties, difficulties with visual perception or tracking, a visual or hearing impairment, slow to complete work and/or doesn’t finish tests on time and anxiety. 


Some candidates with disabilities and learning difficulties may be eligible for access arrangements. These candidates can be divided into 4 different categories, by need; 


How do I go about getting my child access arrangements?

Access arrangements are based on need and if a child requires access arrangements then this is usually identified in the educational setting. 

However, if you feel your child requires access arrangements then you would first need to contact the SENCO (of the school/college/exams centre) to open a conversation about why you feel your child needs access arrangements and how your child normally works. The SENCO will ask many questions, including if your child has an EHCP or a diagnosis (SpLD or medical), what your child struggles with in the classroom/with learning and what their normal way of working is. The SENCO will also get feedback from teachers to see if there are any issues in the classroom that would contribute to requiring access arrangements. Examples include not finishing tests on time or requiring help to read in class. 


What are the most common access arrangements requested?

25% extra time, use of a word processor, use of a reader/computer reader, prompter, scribe, alternative rooming arrangements (previously known as ‘separate invigilation’), coloured overlays, and supervised rest breaks. 


My child is eligible for a reader in exams, can the reader be used in GCSE English Language exams?

A human reader is not allowed to read the questions or text in exam papers/sections of exam papers that are testing reading, such as the reading section of a GCSE English Language paper or a Modern Foreign Language reading paper. However, a computer reader or examination reading pen may be used instead if the candidate is used to using one in class or at home, as their normal way of working. 


My child has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia. Does this mean they can have all of the access arrangements the assessor has recommended?

A diagnosis of dyslexia does not automatically mean that your child is eligible for access arrangements. The SENCO at the school/exam centre they are at will look at the report and the recommendations made. They will then assess the candidate for the access arrangements recommended and based on the results, the candidate may or may not be eligible for the access arrangements. For the centre-delegated access arrangements, the SENCO will consider the diagnostic report and the candidate’s normal way of working. 


My child has ADHD. Does this mean they can have whatever access arrangements the report has recommended?

Due to the medical diagnosis of ADHD, the candidate will not need to be assessed for access arrangements. The SENCO will look at the report and speak with the candidate to determine the appropriate access arrangements. 


My child gets stressed easily and loses focus easily. They use a fidget toy to calm down and help to keep focused. Are they allowed to use a fidget toy in an exam?

Yes, if using a fidget toy is the candidate’s normal way of working, so is used in class. This is a centre-delegated arrangement and the SENCO must be approached in the first instance to arrange this.


My child has diabetes and uses an app on their mobile phone to monitor their blood sugar levels. I am worried about how they can monitor their blood sugar levels in an exam.

Candidates with medical conditions that require access to their mobile phones will be allowed to do so. The candidate may be accommodated in the main exam room or may be required to be in a separate room, depending on the medical condition and how often they require access to their phone. While looking at their phone, the candidate would be under direct individual invigilation.