Using a laptop for exams without having additional support needs?

(16 Posts)
OneMagnumisneverenough Fri 22-Jan-16 22:55:51

Had parents night for DS2 in 3rd year, he is doing really well, a joy to teach etc etc smile However, his handwriting is shockingly poor and takes forever. Teacher has suggested that he be able to use a laptop for his work which we are all okay with, this has to be arranged through the Learning support area but aside from the handwriting he has no need for learning support - anyone been in a similar situation and had it approved?

My DS1 already uses a laptop and whilst he doesn't have an official diagnosis, he is on staged intervention for other needs and therefore is already meant to get support. Effectively though all he gets is permission to use the laptop which is really unrelated to the needs he is supposed to get help for.

BackforGood Fri 22-Jan-16 23:48:19

I'm always a bit wary of chipping in to Scotsnet threads as I know the education systems in Scotland and England are different.
However, Are you asking about just using one generally, or using one specifically for external exams ?
What he does in school generally, is between you and the school. Permission to use one in exams (here in England) is discussed with the Exams Officers who are the experts here. Generally, you have to show that is what you always use in school (or - although this isn't relevant to you - you've had some recent injury which means you can't write like you normally would).

HarrietSchulenberg Fri 22-Jan-16 23:55:52

In England you can use a laptop in exams if that is your normal way of working. Lots of children do it.

OneMagnumisneverenough Sat 23-Jan-16 09:09:25

Thanks both, it's good to hear that it's standard practice in England but I'm not sure if the rules are the same here. It would be for external exams and I know that once they have permission to use it then that applies right through uni too so it is fairly official. The teacher is very pleased with him and says his work is of exceptional standard but is concerned that examiners will struggle/not be bothered to read it and also that he won't produce enough on the day. He has chosen a very writing heavy group of subjects for his national 5s whereas DS1s were more technical/IT type.

Lidlfix Sat 23-Jan-16 13:22:36

He won't be advantaged by using it as spell check etc diasabled, more he won't be disadvantaged by his slow/hard to read script. Just about all new qualifications are emarked and the quality of the image capture for some candidates handwriting makes marking very difficult.

There are an increasing amounts of requests to word process in exams just as there are increasing numbers of pupils using laptops in favour of jotters in class. Progress reflecting reality.

starry0ne Sat 23-Jan-16 13:36:46

I am in England so not much advise on Scotland but can I suggest you look up Dysgraphia..

My DS has just been diagnosed with it and his teacher and my teacher friends had not heard of it so doesn't seem to be well known but could fit your child.

moonface1978 Sat 23-Jan-16 13:48:36

One thing I'd like to mention is that, in my experience, when pupils type (with all spell checkers, autocorrect etc off, which will be the case here) their punctuation and frequently spelling is much worse than when they hand write. Much easier to have a typo even when you know how to spell a word rather than make a similar error when writing by hand. Also, young people can be so used to Word correcting things such as lower case i to capital when used alone etc that they forget to do it properly when under exam conditions. This can have a massive detrimental effect on grade, especially in English as the examiner has to assess based on what is on the page and not make any allowances for the above - which is fair enough! On the other hand an examiner cannot assess what they can't read but we do tend to be pretty adept at deciphering poor handwriting.

StBosco Sat 23-Jan-16 17:09:35

www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/files_ccc/Assessment_Arrangements_Frequently_Asked_Questions.pdf

It must be approved by the SQA.

OneMagnumisneverenough Sun 24-Jan-16 00:36:12

Thanks all and especially for the link smile

DS1 is SQA approved so that is fine, it looks like the school can use their own criteria to decide if they feel the student needs the support and then make the request with necessarily needing outside agencies to have identified the issue so I guess that is the answer to my original question.

I take the point with punctuation etc too. Hopefully that won't be an issue - I think the scanning on thing is possibly another point in his favour as he also writes very faintly and it's all squished together and he doesn't do joined up so each letter is written separately. The laying out has previously been an issue in Maths too but that seems a bit better at the moment.

I'll also look up dysgraphia smile

Walkingonsunshine00 Mon 25-Jan-16 22:35:17

A boy in dds year uses one - he has no other additional needs, just bad handwriting

OneMagnumisneverenough Mon 25-Jan-16 22:38:03

Thanks walking what year is your DD in?

IguanaTail Mon 25-Jan-16 22:41:32

He will need to do a lot lot lot of practice with the laptop as his brain will be hard-wired into writing his thoughts rather than typing them, if that makes sense. And the issues moonface has mentioned I have also experienced many times.

OneMagnumisneverenough Mon 25-Jan-16 22:57:13

The teacher said she would have to test his type speed too but she didn't anticipate a problem as he is a gamer the same as his brother and it's PCs/laptops they use rather than tablets - for a while most teens had good typing skills due to laptop use, now a lot of them use tablets so it's all being lost again.

I appreciate there is a big difference between typing speed and the actual transference of thoughts though. She is hoping to get it in place faster than it took for DS1 as he only got permission through just before the prelims but she noticed a massive difference straight away in the quality of his work and the way he finds it easier to order his thoughts by cutting and pasting which was obviously not an option he had before. he would therefore tend to put a lot less info in as he lost his train of thought and then when he got it back, it didn't fit well into the piece of writing.

I'm hoping the same applies to DS2 and he takes to it well if it is approved. He doesn't start in 4th year until end of April so has got a while before exams. They already type a fair bit of homework as it has to be submitted on-line or taken in on memory stick.

Walkingonsunshine00 Wed 27-Jan-16 23:22:22

She's in S4

starving Thu 28-Jan-16 22:35:33

My dd used a laptop for exams in s5 & s6. I was a bit surprised that it was suggested by the school. However as my dd said it would help her I agreed (I am sure it would have helped me too but they weren't around grin).

She is now at uni and they have agreed to continue this.

OneMagnumisneverenough Thu 28-Jan-16 22:44:06

Thanks. I really think it would help him too. As I said upthread, his chosen subjects at Nat 5 are mainly language/essay oriented (English, French, History, Modern Studies, Business Management, Chemistry and Maths) so he will really struggle to present himself at his best. he is a clever boy, doing well otherwise, he is engaged and hard working in classes, liked by his teachers and doesn't give us a bit of bother so he does deserve to do well.

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