Reasonable Adjustments for GCSE & A levels

Reasonable Adjustments guidance

The JCQ and the awarding bodies have made changes to the Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments.

As  Maidenhead GCSE and A level college we are  particularly eager to keep ahead of changes of regulation.  While  Access arrangements have  myths around them. Including who can how allowances  and adjustments cxan be made.
We have paraphrase  some of the recent guidance from JCQ including a link to their access arrangements. 



In exceptional circumstances where an exam centre like Maidenhead College cannot identify additional reasonable adjustments which would allow a disabled candidate with very substantial and complex needs to sit their examinations, the relevant awarding body/bodies must be contacted.

They will want to understand the candidate’s individual circumstances and wherever possible put in place appropriate adjustments which will allow examinations to be sat.

"An awarding body may be able to determine grades for a disabled candidate using suitable alternative assessment evidence."

The school or college must have medical evidence which confirms the candidate’s disability. 

Candidates who have received a cancer diagnosis are automatically considered to have a disability under the terms of the Equality Act. 

The school or college must also have securely retained suitable alternative assessment evidence which sufficiently represents the requirements of the awarding body’s specification and can be compared to the resulting national standard for the examination series to allow the awarding body to determine a grade.

The definition of Exam Access arrangements according to JCQ:

 Access arrangements

Access arrangements are agreed before an assessment. They allow 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’.

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 Braille paper which would be a reasonable adjustment for a vision impaired candidate who could read Braille. A reasonable adjustment may be unique to that individual and may not be included in the list of available access arrangements. 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. As set out in Chapter 2, there is no duty to make adjustments to competence standards within vocational qualifications.

(See Chapter 3 for information on assessment objectives and Chapter 1, sections 1.6 and 1.8 for the list of general qualifications covered by equality legislation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.)



The responsibility of an awarding body is principally one of making reasonable adjustments for a candidate defined as disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010.