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Exam Access Arrangements and who gets them?

With mock exams taking place in schools up and down the country this month, navigating the educational landscape particularly when it comes to exams, can be a challenging journey for neurodiverse students.

In an effort to ensure a more equal opportunity for all learners to succeed, Exam Access Arrangements (EAAs) have been established as a set of reasonable adjustments which aim to provide individuals with the necessary support to engage in assessments without compromising the assessment's inherent demands.

We asked Nuala Dalton, SENCo at Burlington House School, London, to explain a little more about EAAs.

  • What are Exam Access Arrangements and why do we have them?

Exam Access Arrangements are the reasonable adjustments that can be made for an exam candidate with special educational needs, disabilities, or temporary injuries, to access the assessment without changing its demands. EAAs might include things like extra time to complete an exam paper, permission to use assistive technology, or the provision of rest breaks. 

  • Who gets them? 

Access Arrangements are not a one-size-fits-all solution. They are a pre-examination adjustment for certain candidates based on evidence of need and a normal way of working. 

They fall into two distinct categories:  arrangements that can be delegated to exam centres (schools) to put in place, others require prior JCQ awarding body approval.

  • What sort of EAA are available?

Typical Access Arrangements might include:

  • Extra time to complete the exam - this is for candidates who normally need more time to process information so that they are not placed at a disadvantage in a timed scenario,

  • The provision of rest breaks,

  • Sitting the exam in a smaller room, rather than in a large hall,

  • The use of technology, such as a laptop or exam reading pen,

  • Modified test materials, e.g. large print or braille,

  • A scribe or reader,

  • A prompter to help keep the candidate on task.

The school can decide if a candidate would benefit from rest breaks or a prompt.

  • How do I secure EAA for my child?

EAA candidates, and their unique adjustments, are usually identified by the school’s SENCo who then works with the school’s exam officer in order to put the arrangements in place. In all cases the access arrangement must reflect the pupil’s normal way of working. For example, your child won’t be allowed a laptop for GCSE examinations if they have never used one in school. 

The school should put arrangements in place well in advance for mocks and internal exams.

  • At what age should I apply for EAA for my child?

Informal access arrangements can be used at any age. Formal application for access arrangements is usually made at Key Stage 4.

  • Do EAAs cover coursework and practical components too? 

Yes they do.



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