Exam access arrangements

Access arrangements are the principle way in which awarding bodies comply with the duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make ‘reasonable adjustments’.

What are access arrangements?

Access arrangements ensure that where possible, barriers to assessment are removed for a disabled candidate, preventing them from being placed at a substantial disadvantage as a result of their persistent and significant difficulties.

The integrity of the assessment is maintained, whilst at the same time providing access to assessments for disabled candidates.

What are 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.

This means that the awarding body is required to take reasonable steps to help a disabled candidate to overcome any disadvantage.

What is the definition of disability?

The Equality Act 2010 definition of disability is considered in terms of the following:

  • Has the candidate been identified as having a physical or mental impairment?
  • What are the adverse effects and which are substantial?
  • Are the substantial adverse effects long term?
  • What impact do the long term adverse effects have on normal day to day activities?

Disability means ‘limitations going beyond the normal differences in ability which may exist among people’.

Substantial means ‘more than minor or trivial’.

Long term means ‘the impairment has existed for at least 12 months, or is likely to do so’.

Reasonable adjustments for candidates with disabilities and learning difficulties

Examples of reasonable adjustments for candidates with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties (BESD)

  • Supervised rest breaks
  • A prompter
  • Separate invigilation
  • Alternative accommodation arrangements
  • Extra time
  • A word processor
  • A computer reader or a reader
  • A scribe

Examples of reasonable adjustments for candidates with cognition and learning needs

  • Supervised rest breaks
  • Extra time
  • A computer reader or a reader
  • A word processor
  • A scribe
  • A prompter
  • A practical assistant
  • Coloured overlays
  • Coloured/enlarged papers
  • Papers with modified language

Examples of reasonable adjustments for candidates with communication and interaction needs

  • Supervised rest breaks
  • Extra time
  • A computer reader or a reader
  • An Oral Language Modifier or a Sign Language Interpreter
  • Papers with modified print and/or modified language
  • A word processor
  • A scribe

Examples of reasonable adjustments for candidates with sensory and physical needs

  • Supervised rest breaks
  • Extra time
  • A computer reader or a reader
  • A word processor
  • A scribe
  • A live speaker
  • An Oral Language Modifier or a Sign Language Interpreter
  • A practical assistant
  • Braille papers, papers with modified print and/or modified language

Applying reasonable adjustments

The head teacher/principal or nominated person (usually the SEN Coordinator or specialist assessor) must ensure that any reasonable adjustment implemented is based on firm evidence of a barrier to assessment and is in line with Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) guidance.

Any adjustments considered to be necessary must be applied for to the relevant awarding body in adequate time.

If you feel that you or your child should have a reasonable adjustment made when taking an exam, assessment or test, please ask to speak to the SEN Coordinator or specialist assessor in the first instance.

The information provided on this page is taken from the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) guidance booklet on Adjustments for candidates with disabilities and learning difficulties.