The SEND Department monitors students’ needs from Year 7 using information shared during the transition process from parents and previous schools. Close links with the English department and Heads of Year that any students not referred to SEND via the transition/admissions process, who may need additional support, are screened and assessed as appropriate.
We believe in tracking student progress and exploring support from an early point as access arrangements should be a normal way of working and not solely an intervention for exams.
To determine the appropriateness and to establish a history of need, access arrangements should be reviewed annually throughout Key Stage 3 (KS3) so that formal applications can be made at the beginning of an examined course of study (Year 10 and then Year 12 as appropriate).
Types of support
The following access arrangements are used at Southfields for KS3 students.
Small Room Provision - we can provide smaller exam venues in the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Department and The Achievement Studio (TAS - our resource base for ASD students) for students with sensory needs and/or social and emotional mental health needs (SEMH).
Word processing - this provision is given to many students who have a specific learning need (SpLD) like dyslexia or dyspraxia. We also use word processing for students who struggle with their handwriting and/or struggle to plan, organise and review their work. Word processing can also work well for students with sensory needs (such as ADHD and ASD) as it can aid focus and concentration. Students who have this access arrangement must ensure that typing is a normal way of working (as far as possible) in the subjects that they wish to type in for assessments.
For students who do not have this recommendation via SEND, an English teacher, and/or a teacher in a subject that has extended writing may make a recommendation to their Head of Department, who in turn, can contact the SEND department at firstname.lastname@example.org. This request will then be discussed in terms of suitability. If the request meets requirements, we will talk with the student to establish the subjects where typing is beneficial and begin to establish a history of need.
In assessments, the spelling and grammar check must be disabled. Students will need to be able to save work to a USB device. Students must be aware that they cannot leave an assessment venue until their work has been printed, and they have checked that the document is theirs and that it has been printed in its entirety.
A scribe - Some students struggle to communicate their ideas, particularly those with speech and language communication needs (SLCN) and dictating their ideas to an adult, who will then write for them, is an adjustment that can work well for a child - particularly a child with an Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP). A scribe must write what is dictated by the students, and they cannot advise the candidate. Please note that this access arrangement is not allowed for Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) assessments.
A reader - a student may benefit from having a responsible adult read instructions and questions aloud in exams where the testing of reading (The English Language reading section of the GCSE paper, for instance) is not being tested. A student can ask their reader to re-read and repeat instructions and read aloud what they have written.
A prompter - this arrangement can help a student who struggles with focus and concentration. The prompter can help to manage time and move students on from a question and re-engage their focus.
Supervised rest breaks - this access arrangement may be suitable for students who struggle with focus and/or find assessments overwhelming. When a rest break is required, the time for the exam is paused and the papers (both question and answers) are removed until the student is ready to continue.
At Key Stage 4 and 5, we extend the access arrangements above to include extra time. This has to be applied for via the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ). The most common arrangement for approved applications is 25% additional time. However, it is important to note the following:
‘The SENCo must always consider if supervised rest breaks would be more appropriate before making an application for 25% extra time.’ (JCQ, 2020, 5.1)
‘Extra time will not be allowed if a candidate’s literacy difficulties are primarily caused by English not being his/her first language.’ (JCQ, 2020, 5.2.1)
Access Arrangements can be applied to all subjects. However, ‘Candidates may not require the same access arrangements in each specification. Subjects and their methods of assessment may vary, leading to different demands of the candidate. SENCos must consider the needs for access arrangements on a subject-by-subject basis.’ (JCQ 2020, 4.2.3) and we will make decisions taking students’ views into account.
In Key Stage 3, any adjustments made will be discussed during the annual review process or via communication with a staff member from the SEND department. In Key Stage 4 and 5, we will seek parental permission for any application for access arrangements. We will then confirm this arrangement once granted by the JCQ.
When preparing for a round of internal assessments, the SEND department will endeavour to meet with each child to double-check their existing access arrangements and review if appropriate. It is important that students make use of the reasonable adjustments and discuss any changes with their key worker or the SENCo.
‘If a candidate has never made use of the access arrangement...then it is not his/her normal way of working. The SENCo may consider withdrawing the arrangement…’ JCQ, 2020, 4.2.8
Screening and assessment
Internal monitoring for students with SEND will happen throughout each school year. We schedule screening for students for access arrangements in the autumn term of Year 10 and Year 12 and then arrange for formal assessment shortly thereafter. Additionally, we hold a final screening opportunity early in the spring term to assure that all applications are made in good time for the external JCQ deadline of March 31st.
We are currently using an external assessor who is fully qualified and has an established working relationship with the Academy.
Emergencies and temporary injuries
There will be occasions where a student will require some reasonable adjustment for exams. This may be because of an injury, illness or moments of emotional distress. We will use a small room attached to the main exam venue to ensure that students are supervised adequately and that papers and resources can be provided and checked. Staff are not permitted to take students to the allocated SEND rooms, in order to minimise disruption and ensure that resources and staff are deployed correctly. In such circumstances, the Lead Invigilator must liaise with the Exams Officer.
‘Where a temporary injury at the time of examination gives rise to the need for a scribe the centre must process the arrangement on-line.’ (JCQ, 2020 5.7.10) Word-processing is allowed without the need to process an application.
Training staff to implement access arrangements:
Two training sessions will be delivered to SEND staff in the autumn term by the SEND Leadership Team. The Exams Officer will be involved in the preparation of training and this will be aligned with the training of external invigilators.
The first session will focus on the range of adjustments available and an overview of each adjustment. We will use the JQC document to underpin training and use the memory aids in the appendices for a clear breakdown of protocols. The second session will focus on logistics such as: collecting students, the distribution of papers, disabling spell and grammar features for word-processing, staff and students ratios, toilet breaks, exceptional circumstances and further frequently asked questions.