Call our free helpline0808 808 3555
Call our free helpline
0808 808 3555
If your child has a special educational need or disability that
puts them at a disadvantage for tests and exams, it may be possible
for special arrangements to be made to level the playing field.
These are known as 'access arrangements' and would come under
the broad category of reasonable adjustments under the Equality
Act. Access arrangements might include:
Joint Council on Qualifications (JCQ) has produced guidance on
access arrangements for public exams such as GCSEs, A levels and
Some arrangements, such as rest breaks or using a smaller room,
are at the discretion of the school. Others need to be approved in
advance. Full details are in the guidance.
For extra time, a candidate will need evidence such as an
Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan or a recent assessment
showing slow speed of reading, writing or processing.
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 GCSEs if they have never used one in school. The school
should also put arrangements such as extra time in place well in
advance for mocks and internal exams.
These take place at the end of year 2 (Key stage 1 assessment)
and year 6 (Key stage 2 assessment).
Key stage 1 assessments are flexible anyway, so the child's
documented normal way of working is the only evidence needed for
any special arrangements. The school does not have to put in a
For key stage 2 assessments, the school can provide similar
access arrangements as for public exams. However, it isn't usually
necessary to formally assess the child's needs. The school's own
evidence of speed of working should be sufficient for awarding
If your child is working below the level of the tests they will
not have to take them, and their performance will be based on
teacher assessment over time.
Some children take other exams, for example the 11+ for
selective schools or other entrance tests. The duty to make
reasonable adjustments still applies, but the exact nature will
depend on the examining body - they may have their own guidance.
Check well before the exam and make sure you have the necessary
Schools have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for internal
exams where necessary. Generally these would be similar to the
access arrangements for public exams.
We also support Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Give our
helpline a call on 0808 808 3555 and we can provide information or
signpost you to alternative sources of advice in those nations
where appropriate. Find out our local office details in the In your area