Participating in Awareness Weeks: A Guide

by | Sep 21, 2023

Imagine you’re entering a marathon – only to realise your laces are tied together, making the race daunting, if not impossible. Similarly, our SEND students might feel the strain of standardised examination setups. Examination Access Arrangements (EAA) are those vital untied laces, ensuring every student gets a fair run at the exam finish line. Let’s gallop through the tracks of the examination landscape, focusing on these essential arrangements.

The Essence of Examination Access Arrangements (EAA)

 

  1. Levelling the Playing Field

 

For SEND students, standard examination settings may not reflect their true capabilities. EAA ensures they can showcase their knowledge without unnecessary barriers.

 

  1. Legal Imperative

 

Under the Equality Act 2010, schools and colleges must ensure SEND students aren’t disadvantaged. Properly implemented EAA adheres to this mandate.

 

Types of Access Arrangements

 

  1. Extra Time

 

Some students might need an extension, typically 25%, to complete their exams due to specific needs.

 

  1. Scribes and Readers

 

Assistants who can write down answers or read out questions can be invaluable for students with particular disabilities.

 

  1. Modified Papers

 

For students with visual or hearing impairments, customised papers, whether enlarged, in Braille, or coloured, can be provided.

 

  1. Rest Breaks

 

Scheduled breaks can be beneficial for students with medical conditions or concentration issues.

 

  1. Use of Technology

 

Assistive tech, like computers or voice-to-text software, can be instrumental for some SEND students.

 

Timelines for Examination Access Arrangements

 

While specific deadlines might vary between examining bodies, the general rule of thumb is:

 

  1. Initial Planning: Begin discussions and planning in Year 9.

 

  1. Formal Applications: For GCSE and A-Level students, applications are typically submitted by the end of February in the year of the examination.

 

  1. Evidence Gathering: Throughout the course, gather evidence of the student’s need for the specific arrangements. This evidence might include work samples, teacher observations, or specialist assessments.

 

  1. Review and Adjust: Even after submission, keep an open channel with the examination board. If there are any sudden changes or emergencies, they should be communicated promptly.

 

SENCO’s Vital Role in EAA

 

  1. Identification and Assessment

 

SENCOs should proactively identify students who might require EAA, conducting or organising necessary assessments.

 

  1. Communication

 

Keep parents, students, and teaching staff informed about potential arrangements and the process.

 

  1. Application and Documentation

 

Ensure all documentation is correctly submitted within the stipulated timeframe.

 

  1. Implementation

 

On the exam day, ensure all arrangements are in place, whether it’s the required technology or the right human support.

 

As we near the finish line of our marathon exploration, remember, dear SENCOs: While the race is long, and the terrain might sometimes seem uneven, with the right arrangements in place, every student can reach their potential. Until our next rendezvous, may your examination preparations be as smooth as a freshly paved track!

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