What Are Access Arrangements?
In short, it’s about making the centre, or the paper, accessible for all kids so they can achieve their full potential. It’s all about leveling the playing field and it’s not about giving some kids an advantage over others.
AQE define Access Arrangements as:
Children who possess any physical, learning or medical impairment which may have a negative impact upon their ability to perform at their best in the assessments may qualify for arrangements (known as ‘Access Arrangements’) to be put in place to support them.AQE Ltd.
The group responsible for the GL test (Post Primary Transfer Consortium PPTCNI) define Access Arrangements as:
Any child who might otherwise be prevented from taking the Entrance Assessment or whose performance is likely to be impaired by illness, injury, condition or disability may be granted Access Arrangements.
An example of an Access Arrangement would be the provision of an enlarged paper for a child with a visual impairment.Post Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTCNI)
I will take the AQE and GL processes and information separate as they have subtle differences and forms. You can jump straight to them here if you want:
Who Can Get Access Arrangements?
This is explained well on the AQE site when it states that parents of children who possess any physical, learning or medical impairment which may impact upon their ability to perform at their best in the assessments may apply for Access Arrangements.
The most common reasons a candidate might apply for Access Arrangements are listed below, but this is not an exclusive list and any physical, learning or medical impairment will be considered.
- Asperger’s Syndrome
- Autistic Spectrum Disorder
- Hearing Loss
- Visual Impairments
- Heart Conditions
My Child’s Condition Is Not Listed Above?
Every child will be different and the bottom line is that if your child has a specific need for the test which will ensure fairness with their peers, then there is a case for requesting access arrangements.
The application stands a particularly strong chance of success by the Access Panel, if the evidence points to the fact that the requested arrangement is reflective of the child’s normal way of working in school (this should be supported by a letter from the school). If you don’t have this, don’t panic and apply anyway with evidence that you do have.
AQE Access Arrangements
Deadline For Applying For AQE Access Arrangements
The deadline for applying for access arrangements is strictly 5pm Monday 4th October 2021.
There is also a process for emergency access arrangements e.g. broken arm, but this would only be used when the requirement was not known in advance.
AQE Access Arrangements Information Pack
Everything you need to know about AQE Access Arrangements is covered in one document, known as the Access Arrangements Information Pack and can be downloaded below.
The pack includes:
- Access Arrangements Policy Statement
- Application for Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments (ACC/21)
- Guidance Notes (GS 21 07 1)
- Guidance Notes (GS 21 07 2)
- Glossary of Terms
- Annex A – Normal Way of Working (Primary School Submission Form)
Types Of AQE Access Arrangements (As Detailed In AQE Documentation)
Extra time is probably the most common access arrangement that people think about, but below is a general guide to all the different areas where access arrangements can be accommodated. These are grouped below with their more common application for appropriate, access arrangements.
If you are applying, make sure you check the AQE Access Arrangement Guidance Notes for specific details, especially the level of evidence that will be required in each case.
1) Cognition & Learning Needs e.g dyslexia and dyscalculia.
- Extra time up to 25% without rest breaks OR extra time up to 25% to include rest breaks.
- Coloured overlays.
- Reading rulers.
- Coloured paper.
- Child to read aloud (only granted in exceptional circumstances).
- Use of a computer reader / examination pen: This is to be provided by the child’s parents/guardians. The pen should not have access to a dictionary, thesaurus and/or other software. Electronic reader pens must be used with earphones. Candidates who are granted the use of an electronic reader pen will be awarded up to 25% extra time. Candidates who are awarded up to 25% extra time will be placed in a room with 15 candidates or fewer, where operationally possible.
2) Sensory and Physical Need e.g. Visual Impairment, Hearing Impairment, Multi-sensory Impairment & Physical Disability.
- Enlarged papers on A3 format and the font size will be enlarged to 20pt (Times New Roman).
- Visual aids e.g. slope board or magnifier (provided by parents)
- Accommodation suited to a child with limited mobility to ensure that he/she is accommodated in a suitable classroom, with an appropriate work surface, if required.
3) Medical conditions which are classed as a disability
- Diabetes – Some common adjustments for students with Type 1 diabetes includes, being allowed to take drinks and snacks into the CEA to prevent or treat a hypo or hyper; being allowed to take their blood sugar monitor and insulin, treatment into the CEA; and taking time out to treat a hypo, hyper or to go to the toilet
- Epilepsy – taking time out to ease tiredness (supervised breaks).
- Severe nut allergy or other allergies detrimental to the child’s well being – candidates are permitted to bring in their epi-pen to the CEA and AQE will make the centre aware of this.
4) Communication and Interaction Needs e.g. Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Speech, Language and Communication Needs
- Extra time up to 25% without rest breaks
- OR Extra time up to 25% with rest break
5) Social, Mental and Emotional Needs e.g. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Mental health conditions
- Extra time up to 25% without rest breaks
- OR Extra time up to 25% with rest break
- Room invigilator to prompt candidate to stay on task
- Smaller group invigilation within a CEA centre.
Guidance Notes For AQE Access Arrangements
Read the Guidance Notes – if you’re applying for Access Arrangements for your child you need to be clear on the guidance notes and these can be found on P6 – P7 of the Application Information Pack (below).
Applying For AQE Access Arrangements
Now that you’re clear on the type of access arrangements you’re going to make and you’ve read the guidance, now it’s time to actually fill in the application form.
This is called the ACC/21 form and you’ll be pleased to know that it’s very straightforward and can be found on P4 – P5 of the Application Information Pack below:
AQE Request Supported By Independent Person
Invariably it’s important that any request for access arrangements is backed up with evidence from a reputable source and below is a list of possible individuals who can attest to your request:
- an appropriately qualified medical doctor,
- another suitable or medical professional,
- a primary school Principal,
- a psychologist,
- a suitably qualified educational professional who is accredited by the British Psychological Society (this means someone who is qualified to practise in the United Kingdom holding an HCP Number).
GL Access Arrangements
Deadline For Applying For GL Access Arrangements
The deadline for applying for the GL Access Arrangements ties in with the final date of registration and this is Friday 24th September (the same as the closing date for applications, but don’t leave it this long if you have an access requirement as you want to give them time to discuss and approve).
GL Access Arrangements Policy
This document initially appears very detailed, but it is broken into different sections, so you can skim it for information you’re looking for in order to quickly find what you want.
It’s a necessary read if you are applying and it includes:
- Access Arrangements – general info and in essence, why they’re available.
- The Disability Discrimination Act and Responsibilities.
- Conducting assessments to support claims for Access Arrangements.
- Access arrangements and children’s needs.
- Making an application for Access Arrangements.
- Time Requirements.
- Access Arrangements Available (an important section and covered in detail below)
- Limitations on provision
- Recording Access Arrangements
- Special Circumstances
Types Of GL Access Arrangements (As Detailed In ‘GL Access Arrangements Policy’)
PPTCNI detail the access arrangements that are currently available and these are covered below, in summary only, to make you aware of the various options. However, please ensure you fully read the GL Policy Document if you are going to apply for any of these:
- Extra time of up to 25%: Applications must be submitted to the Assessment Centre no later than the end of the registration period. If the child has learning difficulties, the Assessment Centre will consider the needs of the child based on at least one of the following documents listed in the guidance document. Read GL Access Arrangements Policy for more information and evidence needed.
- Supervised rest breaks: Supervised rest breaks may be considered as an alternative or addition to any request for extra time. They may be appropriate for a child with poor concentration skills or who suffers from extreme stress. Alternatively, supervised rest breaks may be permitted for medical/psychological reasons. Where it is deemed appropriate for a child to have supervised rest breaks, the timing of the examination will be stopped and re-started when the child is ready to continue. If the child needs to leave the examination room, an invigilator will accompany the child. The timing of these breaks depends on the nature of the child’s condition. Read GL Access Arrangements Policy for more information and evidence needed.
- Scribes: A scribe is a responsible adult who records a child’s dictated answers to the questions. A scribe must be a responsible adult who is acceptable to the Head of the Assessment Centre. Scribes should only be requested for children who cannot produce written communication because of physical injury or disability or visual impairment. The provision of a scribe should reflect the child’s normal way of working in the primary school, except in cases where temporary injury gives rise to the need for a scribe. Read GL Access Arrangements Policy for more information and evidence needed.
- Prompters: A prompter is a responsible adult who may sit beside the child in order to keep his or her attention on the task in hand. A prompter is not a reader, a scribe or a practical assistant. A prompter may be permitted where a child has little or no sense of time, or loses concentration easily, or is affected by an obsessive-compulsive disorder which leads them to keep revising a question rather than moving onto other questions. In such instances a child may be assisted by a prompter who can help keep the child focussed on the need to answer a question and then move on to answering the next question. The prompter must be a responsible adult who is acceptable to the head of the Assessment Centre. Read GL Access Arrangements Policy for more information and evidence needed.
- Use of Sign Language Interpreters: The role of a Sign Language Interpreter is to present the questions without changing the meaning, adding any additional information or providing an explanation as to what the question requires of the child. Read GL Access Arrangements Policy for more information and evidence needed.
- Use of an Examination Reader Pen: An Examination Reader Pen, such as the C Pen Examination Reader is a device which assists a pupil to read but does not contain a thesaurus, dictionary, spell-checker or other additional aid. The provision of an Examination Reader Pen should reflect the child’s normal way of working in their primary school. The child’s primary school SENCO must provide recorded written evidence of where and how his/her Access Arrangement of an Examination Reader Pen has been used during internal assessments in the primary school. Read GL Access Arrangements Policy for more information and evidence needed.
- Alternative Centre arrangements: Alternative accommodation should be requested only for those children who have a medical condition which prevents them from taking the paper in the centre but are considered medically fit to take it elsewhere such as a hospital.
- Coloured Overlays: The child will be allowed access to the original examination paper with use of an appropriate overlay.
- Enlarged (non-modified) Papers: Enlarged (non-modified) papers are intended for children who have a severe visual impairment which cannot be corrected by spectacles. An A3 enlargement will be provided unless otherwise agreed with the parent/guardian in line with written evidence provided. Read GL Access Arrangements Policy for more information and evidence needed.
Applying For GL Access Arrangements
So you’ve read the GL access arrangement policy document and clear about the type of access arrangement you want to apply for – great!
Now for the forms.
GL Access Arrangements Form (AA1)
The first one everyone needs to complete is the Access Arrangements Form (AA1).
This is a general document and it’s quite straightforward. It asks the following questions:
- What is the nature of your child’s special educational need or disability?
- Please outline the arrangements currently in operation in your child’s primary school to cater for this educational need or disability?
- Please identify any particular arrangements which you feel are necessary to assist your child in taking the Entrance Assessment.
- Does your child have any Special Dietary or Medical Requirements (e.g does your child have a food allergy? Is your child on medication that is required to be taken within the period of the assessment?)
Although this may seem a little daunting, don’t worry, just take each section and answer as best you can. At a later point, if needed, you’ll be contacted for further evidence that may be required.
GL Medical Form To Support Access Arrangements (AA2)
If you’re child’s condition falls under a medical condition then your doctor should complete the AA2 medial form.
GL Special Educational Needs Form To Support Access Arrangements (AA3)
This form is used when supporting evidence is required and it’s not necessarily only medical.
The top of this form states that it should be ‘completed by a suitable qualified practitioner‘ and in Appendix 1 of the Policy Document, more details are provided as to the type of person who should complete this form and this includes:
- An Education Authority Educational Psychologist or a private qualified Psychologist holding an appropriate third level qualification.
- Registered and practising family doctors, hospital consultants and dentists.
- A qualified Specialist Teacher employed within the child’s primary school, designated as SENCO and able to fulfil the criteria below:
- able to teach and assess primary and secondary aged learners who have learning difficulties
- have the necessary knowledge and skill to carry out assessments in support of applications for Access Arrangements, including a thorough understanding of the Code of Practice following amendments made to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995
- be fully trained in and have experience of the objective administration of attainment tests which can be administered individually. This must include tests of reading accuracy, reading speed and comprehension, spelling, with appropriate assessment ceilings
- be able to define when it is necessary to refer the child to an educational psychologist or other specialist and understand the limitations of their own skills.
- have completed a course in special education allowing him/her to achieve a recognised third level qualification.
- have sufficient experience in teaching and assessing primary aged pupils with specific learning difficulties to make recommendations on Access Arrangements.
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