What are access arrangements?

Access Arrangements are pre external assessment adjustments for candidates based on evidence of need and normal way of working.

Access Arrangements allow candidates/learners with specific special educational needs, substantial and long term disabilities, or temporary injuries to access the assessment without changing the demands of the assessment. This is the way Awarding Bodies comply with the duty of the Equality Act 2010 to make 'reasonable adjustments' where a candidate would be a as substantial disadvantage in comparison to a candidate who is not disabled.

Examples of factors that may cause a substantial disadvantage:

  • A persistent and significant difficulty in reading and understanding written materials because of a mental impairment, a learning difficulty or multi-sensory impairment
  • Difficulty in understanding or following simple verbal instructions
  • A physical impairment

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.

Arrangements are intended to allow access to assessments, they cannot be granted where they will compromise the assessment objective.

When should access arrangements be organised?

Access arrangements should be processed at the start of a course.

Sufficient evidence must be collected before the arrangement(s) can be awarded. It is expected that this would be done during the years before the course begins. This required evidence is clearly outlined by the awarding body. All evidence must be stored and be available for inspection by the awarding body.

The arrangement(s) put in place must reflect the support given to the candidate in school, often referred to as ‘Normal way of working’.

Arrangements must always be approved before an examination or assessment, in line with published awarding body deadlines. In general the timescales are:

Month of examination Deadline
November July
January October
May/June January

Examples of the sort of reasonable adjustments that are available?

  • Supervised rest breaks
  • Extra time
  • A prompter
  • Use of a computer reader
  • Use of a Word processor
  • Modified papers (e.g. braille)

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.

What are modified papers?

Modified papers are exam papers and resources produced by the awarding body to address very specific needs. School must order any modified papers in advance of a specific examination series, no later than the published deadline for the series concerned.

What is Special Consideration?

Special Consideration is not an access arrangement, is a post examination request to adjust a candidate's mark or grade to reflect temporary injury, illness or other indisposition at the time of the examination/assessment.

Exam board links

JCQ (AQA, Pearson, OCR, WJEC)
Cambridge International

SNHS Policies relating to Access Arrangements