A few local authorities MAY be able to suggest a suitable centre.
To obtain access arrangements (special help during the exam) the centre where you sit the exam must paint a picture of need to JCQ (or to the awarding body (exam board). This is dependent on "the normal way of working within the centre."
A picture of need is established in one of the following ways:
- Statement of special educational needs/EHCP AND normal way of working within the centre (extra time of up to 25% only)
- Report from a specialist assessor AND normal way of working within the centre
- Medical or psychological condition AND normal way of working within the centre
The critical issue for home educated candidates is about "normal way of working within the centre" when they are not previously known to the centre.
There is also the issue of who carries out the assessment. Sometimes people think that they just need to take a report to the exam centre so for example they pay hundreds of pounds for a dyslexia assessment, but that's not how it works.
There is no obligation for centres to take private candidates at all let alone those who need extra help, ie there are no grounds for a disability discrimination case if a centre says it can't help.
If you know that your son or daughter will need the standard set-up to be adapted, for example because it takes them longer to process instructions or they would get too tired writing for all that time, or not be able to see the paper properly to read the questions, then ideally you should be talking to exam centres at least a year before the exam, to confirm a/ what type of specialist report is required and b/ to negotiate how the centre will establish the "normal way of working within the centre."
Some parents will go as far as to choose the exam based on which exam boards are preferred at a supportive centre. More about exam centres on the home ed exams wiki
Here are details of a couple of centres I know can help with access arrangements, namely Faregos in Hampshire, and Tutors and Exams in Coventry.
Faregos Exam Centre deals with access arrangements in two ways. This is for 2017 exams: candidates who ALREADY have written evidence of need are requested to sign up for an assessment session at Faregos with a qualified assessor. The first assessment session (for exams in Summer 2017) will take place in late September 2016. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Candidates starting from scratch who don’t have written evidence are offered low cost preliminary screening, to see if it is worth parents committing to pay the full assessment fee. The first preliminary screening session will take place in October 2016. Please contact email@example.com
Tutors and Exams is holding an open morning on Saturday January 14th 2017, where you can talk to an Access Arrangements specialist. More
http://www.dmurphytutoring.co.uk/blog/access-arrangements-in-examinations MUST-READ BLOG ON ACCESS ARRANGEMENTS AND PRIVATE CANDIDATES + follow-up.
See also http://www.senmagonline.co.uk/index.php/component/k2/item/151557-access-arrangements and this webinar (November 2016)
Where a candidate has a medical or a psychological condition, a picture of need is STILL required. See JCQ publication Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments.
JCQ says: The simplest way forward for external candidates would be for the centre to conduct its own screening test as part of the interview process. This will be in addition to a statement of special educational needs or a report from a specialist assessor."
Taken together, the use of 25 per cent extra time, having a reader or a scribe account for 89% of all approved access arrangements.
173,850 candidates (9% of all candidates) had applications made for access arrangements, and 92% of applications were approved.
There were 138,550 approved requests for the most frequently granted access arrangement of 25% extra time (54% of all approved access arrangements)
The second most frequently granted access arrangement was the use of readers for candidates with a learning difficulty or a visual impairment that affects their reading. Some 58,950 requests were approved (23% of all approved access arrangements).
The third most common access arrangement was the use of a scribe. 29,900 requests were approved (12% of all approved access arrangements).
(NB the download link from this page doesn't work, August 2016)
For more information about taking exams as a private candidate
The RNIB also has a useful page on access to exams and tests here
How do we get extra time in exams?
Extra time can be given to candidates with a learning difficulty or other applicable medical, physical or psychological requirement. Up to 25% extra time may be allowed, but for many candidates a smaller allowance, such as 10% extra time, is considered appropriate.
For extra time of up to 25%, there needs to be either a statement of SEN/Education Health and Care Plan OR a report from an educational psychologist or specialist teacher via an assessment (Section C of Form 8) which confirms the existence of a learning difficulty which is specifically resulting in a below average speed of processing.
Can my child have breaks during the exam?
Yes, with permission. The JCQ regulations say that "Supervised rest breaks must always be considered before making an application for extra time. Centres are allowed to provide a supervised rest break to a candidate where it is his/her normal way of working within the centre"
"The centre must be satisfied that the candidate has an impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect, giving rise to persistent and significant difficulties. (The candidate is disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act.)"
The SENCo must be satisfied that there is a genuine need for the arrangement on account of:
- cognition and learning needs
- communication and interaction needs
- a medical condition
- sensory and physical needs
- social, mental and emotional needs
In addition, the candidate’s difficulties must be established within the centre"
How do we get permission to use a word processor in exams?
Centres are allowed to provide a word processor with the spelling and grammar check facility/predictive text disabled to a candidate where it is their normal way of working within the centre. Controlled assessment or coursework components can normally be completed on word processors unless prohibited by the specification.
For regulations on the use of word processors in written examinations, please see JCQ Instructions for Conducting Examinations
NB the 2016-17 rules say "The use of a transcript where a candidate’s handwriting may be hard to decipher at times is no longer permissible. Where a candidate’s handwriting is illegible he/she should use a word processor. If a word processor is not appropriate to the candidate’s needs then he/she must meet the published criteria for a scribe. Candidates must be reminded that they are responsible for producing legible writing."
Can we have someone to read out the questions in the exam?
Yes, by special arrangement· The second most frequently granted arrangement was the use of readers for candidates with particular visual impairments or a learning difficulty that affects their reading. A reader is either a person who reads the questions to the candidate or computer software that reads out a scanned paper.
Can the candidate have someone in the exam who will write out the answer?
Yes, by special arrangement. The third most common arrangement was the use of a scribe for candidates with learning difficulties, a medical condition, a physical disability, a severe visual impairment, or a temporary injury affecting the candidate’s ability to write independently.