Access arrangements for private candidates

 Access arrangements and reasonable adjustments process for centres accepting private candidates

SENCos, assessors and senior leaders within centres who enter private candidates for examinations. Including GCSE and A Level candidates across the spectrum. 

What are access arrangements: 

Access arrangements are agreed before examinations.

They allow exam candidates with specific needs, such as special educational needs, disabilities or temporary injuries, to access the assessment and show what they know and can do without changing the demands of the assessment.

The intention behind an access arrangement is to meet the needs of an individual candidate without affecting the integrity of the assessment. Access arrangements are the principal way in which awarding bodies comply with the duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make ‘reasonable adjustments’.

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 substantial disadvantage in comparison to someone who is not disabled.

The awarding body is required to take reasonable steps to overcome that disadvantage.

An example would be a computer reader, 50% extra time and a word processor which would be reasonable adjustments for a vision impaired candidate.

A reasonable adjustment may be unique to that individual.

Whether an adjustment will be considered reasonable will depend on several factors which will include, but are not limited to:

the needs of the disabled candidate;

the effectiveness of the adjustment;

the cost of the adjustment; and

the likely impact of the adjustment upon the candidate and other candidates.

An adjustment will not be approved if it:

involves unreasonable costs to the awarding body;

involves unreasonable timeframes; or

affects the security and integrity of the assessment.

This is because the adjustment is not ‘reasonable’.

In most cases it will not be reasonable for adjustments to be made to assessment objectives within a qualification􀀁 To do so would likely undermine the effectiveness of the qualification in providing a reliable indication of the knowledge, skills and understanding of the candidate􀀁 There is no duty to make adjustments which the qualifications regulators have specified should not be made.

For further information, heads of centre, senior leaders, SENCos and assessors should refer to Chapters 1 and 3 of the JCQ document Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments:

Twenty access arrangements/reasonable adjustments are delegated to centres. These arrangements do not require an examination centre to process an online application or, in most cases, produce any evidence of need for inspection. 

The SENCo, or an equivalent member of staff within an FE college, is empowered at a local level to determine the appropriateness and reasonableness of the arrangement􀀁 However, the SENCo must be satisfied of the need for the arrangements.

The SENCo will base their decision on the private candidate’s normal way of working and whether their impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect. Establishing a candidate’s normal way of working.

Amplification equipment
Bilingual dictionary
Braille transcript
Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)
Colour naming by the invigilator for candidates who are colour blind
Coloured overlays
Communication Professional (for candidates using Sign Language)
Examination on coloured/enlarged paper
Fidget toys and stress balls
Live speaker for pre-recorded examination components
Low vision aid/magnifier
Non electronic ear defenders/ear plugs
Optical Character Reader (OCR) scanners
Read aloud (which can include an examination reading pen)
Squared paper for visual spatial difficulties
Supervised rest breaks
Word processor (with the spelling and grammar check switched off)

The following arrangements require an online application to be submitted by the centre, supported by evidence of need:

Access to a mobile phone for medical purposes
Bilingual dictionary with 25% extra time (solely for GCSE qualifications)
Computer reader/reader
25% extra time
Extra time over 25%
Practical Assistant
*Remote invigilation†
Scribe/speech recognition technology
Timetable variation for a candidate with a disability