Ofqual has today (3 November) released new data for special consideration for the summer 2015 exam series and approved applications to Access Arrangements for 2014/15 academic year.
Exam boards are required by us to have clear arrangements in place for special consideration to be given to learners who, for reasons beyond their control, are unable to complete all or part of an assessment. The latest data shows a 15% increase in approved requests (3% of all marked scripts) for special considerations by exam boards, compared with 2014. This compares with a 3% increase in the number of marked candidate scripts this year.
Exam boards have a single online system through which centres make applications for access arrangements for learners to access the assessments where they have special educational needs, disabilities or temporary injuries.
Exam boards must, in accordance with Equalities Law, have in place arrangements for making reasonable adjustments for learners with disabilities. They also provide access arrangements for learners with temporary injuries or special educational needs. The latest data shows a 3% increase in approved requests for access arrangements by exam boards, compared with 2013/14.
Regulating exam boards
We met with exam boards and the Joint Council for Qualifications in late 2014 to request that they review the circumstances in which requests for access arrangements are approved. We also met with exam boards earlier this year to highlight that they should consider applications for special consideration on a case by case basis and that we do not prescribe the nature of special consideration they can provide.
Exam boards contract a central Centre Inspection Service (CIS) to review centres compliance with their requirements. Last year we requested that they double the number of schools and colleges visited as part of its monitoring of the examination process. The CIS is due to report to exam boards on the findings from its visits later in the year. Exam boards will present the findings to us and we will consider whether they are putting in place sufficient steps to consider and monitor the approval of special consideration, and access arrangements.