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.
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."
LINKS CHECKED JULY 14TH 2018
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.
"Access Arrangements are pre-examination adjustments for candidates based on evidence of need and normal way of working. Access Arrangements fall into two distinct categories: some arrangements are delegated to centres, others require prior JCQCIC awarding body approval. Access Arrangements allow candidates/learners with special educational needs, disabilities or temporary injuries to access the assessment without changing the demands of the assessment. For example, readers, scribes and Braille question papers. In this way Awarding Bodies will comply with the duty of the Equality Act 2010 to make 'reasonable adjustments'. The Equality Act 2010 requires an Awarding Body to make reasonable adjustments where a disabled person would be at a substantial disadvantage in undertaking an assessment. A reasonable adjustment for a particular person may be unique to that individual and may not be included in the list of available Access Arrangements. How reasonable the adjustment is will depend on a number of factors including the needs of the disabled candidate/learner. An adjustment may not be considered reasonable if it involves unreasonable costs, timeframes or affects the security or integrity of the assessment. There is no duty on the Awarding Bodies to make any adjustment to the assessment objectives being tested in an assessment. Special Consideration is a post examination adjustment to a candidate's mark or grade to reflect temporary injury, illness or other indisposition at the time of the examination/assessment." SOURCE
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
Can we have someone to read out the questions in the exam?
Yes, by special arrangement· The second most frequently granted arrangement has been 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 has been 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.