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Trust us to know pupils' needs

As a special educational needs co-ordinator in a Cornish comprehensive school I am faced with the yearly task of ensuring the Year 10 and 11 pupils have the exam concessions they need as a result of their special needs.

As we do not have a staff member with the appropriate qualification to assess pupils for exam dispensations we rely on our educational psychologist. Every year a large amount of time is taken up with the ed psych assessing pupils, and me (and the exams officer) filling in forms - particularly for the concession of a reader.

The provision of extra time is now at the school's discretion, as long as evidence since Year 7 is available, thank goodness. But I have never really understood why the concession of a reader needs the bureaucracy that it has.

Any Senco worth his or her salt will know exactly which pupils will benefit from one-to-one or a separate room with others who have similar difficulties. Readers, I believe, should be available to these pupils without any referral to a psychologist or other assessor.

We are not testing an individual's ability to read in GCSEs, after all.

Surely we are testing their ability to understand questions and answer appropriately? Am I on my own?

Rob Barratt

4 Riverside Court

Quay Street

Lostwithiel, Cornwall

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