Exams Access Arrangements - Looking into the next academic year 2016/2017

Exams Access Arrangements by Nicks Lait

Today I am particularly pleased to welcome our guest writer Nick Lait.  Nick is the Head of Examination Services at the Joint Council For Qualifications (JCQ).

His article below Nick talks about exams access arrangements looking into the next academic year (2016-2017).

Nick writes...

At the end of the summer, and in time for the start of the new school year, the JCQ will publish the access arrangements rules and regulations for 2016/17. We try to keep any changes to a minimum in order to ensure consistency and stability.

Over the past couple of years we have substantially changed the focus of the access arrangements process. It is no longer an administrative task, a processing task. The SENCo (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) has been placed at the heart of the process, supported by teaching staff and senior leaders. The SENCo, working at a local level with devolved responsibilities, determines the most appropriate and reasonable adjustments for pupils.

The school must lead on all aspects of the access arrangements process, including where necessary assessing pupils.
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The SENCo must gather and collate evidence from teaching staff, and use school based data such as pupil attainment and pupil tracking data, to paint a picture of the pupil’s needs. This is essential as it directly influences the assessment process and ensures that the pupil is thoroughly tested.
The picture of need and assessment data allow the correct access arrangements to be given.
For parents whose children are moving into Year 9 this September, or starting GCSEs this autumn, it is important to meet with the SENCo early on in the Autumn Term.
This will allow parents to discuss any concerns, seek clarity on possible arrangements for their child or to gain an understanding of the access arrangements process. The SENCo, or alternatively a member of the school’s senior leadership team, must be the point of contact for parents.
The JCQ awarding bodies are keenly aware of the difficulties dyslexic learners face when completing timed written examinations. All learners should be able to show their full potential.
Whilst all learners have to be objectively assessed in terms of their knowledge, skills and understanding, the appropriate access arrangement(s) put in place should allow a dyslexic learner to override unnecessary barriers and demonstrate their individual strengths.

Nick Lait
Head of Examination Services

Nick Lait is Head of Examination Services at the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), where his responsibilities encompass producing the various JCQ documents relating to examination administration, such as the JCQ publication Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments, and chairing a number of inter-board Working Groups.  Nick is Chair of the JCQ Special Requirements Committee.  He also provides on-going centre support and advice and guidance to schools and colleges.  He has a thorough knowledge of the examination administration system having previously worked with Edexcel for 11 years from 1996-2007 in both UK and International exam operations. Nick is a presenter at numerous events, typically presenting on access arrangements.