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.
- Vocal Tics
- Asperger’s Syndrome
- Autistic Spectrum Disorder
- Hearing Loss
- Visual Impairments
- Heart Conditions
- Spina Bifida
- Cerebal Palsy
- Muscular Dystrophy
Parents of children whose first language is neither English or Irish and who have spent less than three years in the United Kingdom and/or Ireland before September 2019 may also apply for Access Arrangements.
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 Friday 25th September.
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.
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.
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.
- Extra time up to 25%: This may be appropriate if a child has learning difficulties, a medical, physical or psychological requirement, or needs work breaks related to any of the above.
- Room invigilator to prompt candidate to stay on task: This may be appropriate where a candidate has a significant diagnosed condition which causes him/her to lose concentration.
- Smaller group invigilation within a CEA Centre: A child may be permitted to take the CEA under smaller group invigilation within a centre, if there is appropriate evidence of significant need.
- Accommodation suited to a child with limited mobility: This should be requested where a candidate may have mobility difficulties e.g. a wheelchair user, to ensure that he/she is accommodated in a suitable classroom, with an appropriate work surface if required.
- Coloured Overlays: These may be used by a child when it represents his/her normal way of working in primary school. These coloured overlays are to be provided by the child’s parents/guardians.
- Coloured Paper: This will be provided by AQE and may be used by a child when it reflects his/her normal way of working in primary school.
- Aids For A Visual Impairment: Visual aids may be used if it reflects a candidate’s normal way of working in primary school. These are to be provided by the child’s parents/guardians.
- Enlarged Papers: These are intended for children with moderately poor vision but who can see pictures, graphs and diagrams. Please note, these will provided on A3 paper, one sided pages with a staple in the top left corner.
- Scribe: Scribes will only be permitted in very limited circumstances for children who cannot produce written communication by any other means e.g. a word processor.
- Word Processor (to be approved by AQE Ltd.): Due to the nature of the CEA, this is likely to be applicable in a very limited circumstances, where the candidate has an impairment which renders their handwriting illegible and produced at below average speed for their age.
- Child To Read Aloud: It may be appropriate to allow a child to be accommodated separately and to be given the opportunity to read aloud only if this is their normal way of working in primary school. This will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.
Guidance Notes For AQE Access Arrangements
Read the Guidance Notes if you’re applying for Access Arrangements for your child. There are three documents and everyone should read the first one (general) and then depending on your circumstances and your reason for applying, either the ‘impairment‘ or the ‘language‘ one. All shortcuts for the documents are included below for you.
- Guidance Notes – General – covering general information about the process and the fact that this is the parent’s responsibility (that is, not the school’s) to fill out these forms before the deadline.
- Guidance Notes – Impairment – this covers all the guidance about the access arrangements above so read this and really understand what is required by the AQE team, and in particular the evidence they expect to see.
- Guidance Notes – Language – this is for parents who are applying for access arrangements as their child’s first language is not English or Irish and they have spent less that three years in the UK or Ireland before September 2019.
Applying For AQE Access Arrangements
Now that you’re clear on the type of access arrangements request you are 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/19 form and you’ll be pleased to know that it’s very straightforward and only asks for:
- Some basic personal information to identify the child.
- The reason for the request e.g. child has dyslexia.
- Special access arrangements requested e.g. 25% extra time.
- Circumstances – why you feel your child will need this access arrangement (this should be pretty obvious).
- Evidence provided and enclose any necessary documentation.
- Signed declaration by the parent/guardian.
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 9th October (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 difference between access arrangements and special circumstances
- The Disability Discrimination Act and responsibilities
- The specific access arrangements which are accommodated (also covered in more detail below)
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 (link above) 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.
- 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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