Students with additional support needs will soon be able to have their exam extra time and other access requirements rolled over from school to college, thanks to a change in guidance from the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ).
In March, Tes reported that vulnerable learners who were allowed special assistance in exams at school could not bank on automatically getting the same help at college.
The arrangements, granted by the JCQ, allow students help such as more time to do exams, scribes to write down answers or people to read out questions.
But the arrangements only last for 26 months and are not simply transferred over when students leave school for another education establishment, in a situation prompting college leaders to demand a change in the rules.
Exam extra time rolled from school to college
A change in guidance for learners sitting GCSEs and A levels was published by the JCQ with the aim of reducing “the administrative burden on schools and colleges”.
The new guidance states: “Where a candidate has a confirmed learning difficulty, with a fully completed Form 8 in place, and will continue to require 25 per cent extra time, a computer reader/reader and/or a scribe, the Form 8 may be rolled forward from a school to a college where there is an established working relationship.
“This ensures the integrity of the access arrangement(s) with the school.”
The latest government data for the FE sector shows that 21 per cent of students taking GCSE and A levels in 2015-16 had access arrangements.
'Reduce the burden on the FE sector'
A JCQ spokesperson said: “JCQ has today published guidance for colleges enrolling students who previously had access arrangements, confirming that they do not need to reassess them. Colleges are permitted to carry forward evidence, where they have a working relationship with a school, and use this to make an online application for access arrangements.
“JCQ has been working with the FE sector to finalise the guidance that has been seen as a welcome step in reducing examination bureaucracy for colleges. The guidance ensures the rigour and fairness of the system is maintained but minimises the burden on colleges that have seen an increase in GCSE English and mathematics resits.
“In addition, JCQ has extended the deadline for processing arrangements for the November series until 1 November and late applications will be considered. This will further reduce the burden on the FE sector.”