It is that time in the education calendar when the latest Access Arrangement regulations are updated from the JCQ. Having read through the updated regulations this last week I thought it might be helpful to bring to your attention a few of the highlights that I have noted have appeared and to offer a relevant comment if necessary.
The highlights I picked up on were subtle tweaks to the existing wording, so here they are:
Deadlines for application:
The deadlines for applications for processing are emphasised this year:
Applications must be processed and approved before an examination or assessment, no later than the published deadline…and…Any application processed after the published deadline may be subject to scrutiny. SENCOs must ensure that the appropriate paperwork is on file and available for inspection. (page 2 JCQ regs)
The Form 8 now has to be signed by hand.
History of Need:
Section A has previously required the SENCO to ‘paint a picture of need’ to support the application for an access arrangement, along with any evidence from teaching and classroom staff. In this update the highlighted sentence states that the SENCO must produce:
“A detailed evidence of history of need.” (p7, 24, 25, 31) is highlighted. This would require a more thorough description of the candidate’s needs, also evidenced from written comments and observations from teachers.. This is expected to now include evidence through years 7 to 9 (4.2.4 p 17). This may be problematic for some of this year’s cohort as staff may not have collected such evidence.
Additional text at the end of page three states that a, ‘Failure to produce the appropriate evidence of need will lead to the application being rejected.’ The evidence required for certain arrangements can be found in section 5.2, pp 22 to 26; 5.3, extra time of up to 50% pp 28,29; 5.5, a computer reader/reader, pp34, 35, 37; 5.7, scribe/speech recognition technology, pp47-49.
Some further tightening-up on assessment scores for those with Specific Learning difficulties at the lower end of the average range of standardised scores of between 85-89. On page 19 in the examples section it now specifies the two low average scores should relate to two different areas of speed of working for 25% extra time.
A positive change on page 25 is that scores between 90-94 related to three different speed of working scores may be eligible for 25% extra time if supported by a wealth of evidence including, among other evidence, a diagnostic assessment report not earlier than Year 9. (p25)
The tightening up of the evidence required for pupils obtaining one or more Standard scores of 84 or less now requires that, ‘the SENCO must present for inspection purposes a substantial and comprehensive body of evidence.’
Of course it should go without saying, that all assessors, whether in-school or external assessors must use up-to-date relevant standardised tests and tests for which standardised scores can be calculated, because some assessments do not have standardised scores.
With 50% extra time for those with a physical, sensory or multi-sensory impairment, an additional two clauses state that SENCOs must indicate the maximum amount of extra time required, e.g. 40%; and indicate whether the candidate will use a computer or human reader, a scribe or word processor.
This caused quite a number of discussions last year for clarification. This year page 37 states that:
‘The rolling forward of a Form 8 from GCSE to GCE qualifications principally applies in the context of 11 to 18 schools, including 11 to 18 schools operating local Sixth Form consortium arrangements for GCE AS and A-level qualifications.
A FE College or a Sixth Form College must have established working relationships with ‘feeder’ schools in order for the Form 8 to roll forward from GCSE to GCE qualifications.’
There are also some new additions to Section 5 for each of the arrangement types so do check those changes.
In conclusion, keeping assessment batteries of relevant tests can be expensive for schools. Connect offers an Access Arrangement Assessment service for schools and colleges to ease the financial and time constraints that schools face.
If you happen to be reading the regulations too and you note something that I have not mentioned here, please send as a comment to share.
Alastair Fielden is connect’s Education Consultant with over 20 years experience in SEND Education and assistive technologies.