The West Bridgford School

Post-16 SEND

Access Arrangements - Information for students and parents

Access arrangements are ‘reasonable adjustments’ for students who have a disability or a special educational need that significantly affects them in exams.


Access arrangements

•   Do not change the skills or knowledge being tested

•   Must not give an unfair advantage, but…

•   Do give a level playing field so students can show their knowledge


There are a variety of access arrangements that can be provided, including:

•   Support for reading (e.g. a reader, a reading pen)

•   Support for writing (e.g. a scribe, a word processor)

•   Support for working to time (e.g. 25% extra time, supervised rest breaks)


Any arrangements that are used in exams are based on the normal way of working in the classroom, in tests and in exams. Wherever possible, access arrangements that enable a student to work independently are encouraged.


Evidence is needed for some access arrangements and these need to be applied for and approved before they can be used in external exams. This sometimes means that testing needs to be carried out. Testing takes place in school and parents are always informed via. letter before this testing takes place. Strict rules must be followed so that the test scores can be used as evidence for access arrangements.


Identifying the Need for Access Arrangements at The West Bridgford School 

Students who may qualify for formal access arrangements in Key Stage 4 and 5 are normally identified when the students are in Key Stage 3.  This is due to the need for historical evidence of persistent and significant difficulties. Actions include: 


  • Monitoring, tracking and intervention during transition to The West Bridgford School 
  • Informal access arrangements trialled in end of year exams in Years 7, 8 and 9 and in class assessments  
  • Tracking and review of informal access arrangements 
  • Literacy and/or numeracy interventions 


At the end of Year 9, students are identified, using data from the actions outlined above, for testing for formal access arrangements. Identified students are then formally assessed, with parents/carers informed both before, and after, the assessment. During Year 10, formal access arrangements are applied for in readiness for final exams in Year 11. 


Assessment for Access Arrangements 

Assessments will be carried out by the specialist assessor and overseen by the SENCO. In line with JCQ regulations, all decisions will be based on whether the candidate has a substantial and long term impairment with historical evidence of need. 


When a need for access arrangements has been identified, the relevant parties are informed in the following ways: 

  • Students are informed verbally 
  • Staff are informed and updated via SIMs and email 
  • Parents are informed in writing 

Please note: Private or independent tests/assessments e.g. by the Dyslexia Association cannot be accepted. In line with JCQ guidelines, all assessments must be conducted in the school context. 


Withdrawal of Access Arrangements  

If a student continually chooses not to use the agreed access arrangements, either because their needs change or they do not feel it aids their learning or achievement, then access arrangements can be withdrawn. If the SENCO and/or specialist assessor considers that access arrangements cease to be the student’s ‘normal way of working’, they reserve the right to withdraw the arrangements. 


Useful links:  


Useful Definitions

Definition of Disability 

Section 6 of the Equality Act (2010) defines disability as a ‘physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on someone’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities.’ 


Definition of Special Educational Needs 

A candidate has special educational needs (as defined in the Education Act 1996) if he/she has a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made for him/her. 


Reasonable Adjustments 

The Equality Act (2010) requires an awarding body to make reasonable adjustments where a disabled person would be at a substantial disadvantage when undertaking an assessment or exam, in comparison with a candidate who is not disabled. In such circumstances, the awarding body is required to take reasonable steps to overcome that disadvantage.  


A reasonable adjustment for a particular student 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.  Therefore, candidates’ access arrangements will be judged on a case by case basis.