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Special needs to get exam help

Pupils with special educational needs taking a national 5-14 test should be given the same support they receive as part of their normal class work, the Scottish Qualifications Authority is advising schools.

The SQA has just issued guidance on exam candidates with special needs and those whose first language is not English. It says appropriate support would include extra time to complete the tests, assistance with reading the questions, a scribe to record answers and enlarged print versions of test units.

The Authority says approval from its 5-14 assessment unit is not necessary. It adds: "While special arrangements should be tailored as far as possible to the particular circumstances of the pupil, they should be no more than necessary to allow the pupil to show hisher level of achievement.

"For example, pupils may not be permitted to have the passage in a reading test read to them, as the tests are a test of reading comprehension and not listening. However, pupils may be read the text of questions.

"It is important to bear in mind that national tests are not external examinations. They are essentially assessment instruments designed to complement and confirm teachers' continuous assessment of pupil progress in the key curricular areas of reading, writing and mathematics, in relation to defined national standards."

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