Exam supervision costs

(44 Posts)
TranquilityofSolitude Wed 04-May-16 09:23:56

DD is in Yr13 and has A levels shortly. She suffers from anxiety and emetophobia and finds exams very challenging, which is frustrating because her exam performance is rarely representative of her actual ability.

School have been very supportive and have promised to help in any way that they can. Last year, for AS exams, she was allowed to sit in a smaller room for exams with up to 20 others. Although this was preferable to sitting in the main hall, it was not ideal because they tended to put any student feeling unwell in the smaller room, which is challenging for someone with emetophobia. In addition, some of the students in the room required extra help - readers, for example - so it was not very quiet.

DD is receiving treatment from the GP and also a CBT practitioner. They have suggested that DD would benefit from being alone with an invigilator rather than in a room with up to 20 others. School have said to DD in an email that they can arrange this but that she will need to pay £275. Is this normal? Obviously we will pay if it will help DD but I just wondered if this was a standard charge. Has anyone else encountered this?

catslife Wed 04-May-16 13:58:01

Is this an independent school? They tend to charge if extra support is needed for a pupil. An extra room would mean employing an extra invigilator and they need to be paid so perhaps the charge is to cover extra costs.
Does your dd qualify for extra time, it is fairly common for pupils requiring extra time to be put in a separate room.
At the school where I work anyone with an illness that could be infectious would be separated from other students e.g. would take exam in the medical room.

Bluebonnie Wed 04-May-16 14:43:07

Even if this is an independent school, they are flying very close to the wind with disability discrimination legislation under the 2010 Equality Act, by trying to charge parents for this arrangement.

Doubtful if many schools would try it on like this.

NicknameUsed Wed 04-May-16 14:47:45

I think state schools with their underfunded budgets would struggle even more to find the funds for this. In my case I would be happy to pay if it meant that my child could sit exams comfortably.

TranquilityofSolitude Wed 04-May-16 16:11:58

Thanks for your replies. It's a state school. As I said, we are happy to pay but it's not a request we've had before and it's great to have some different perspectives on it. One of my first thoughts was that I can find £275 but it's actually quite a lot of money for many and if funds were tight it would be a difficult situation to find yourself in at short notice.

MrsGuyOfGisbo Wed 04-May-16 16:16:52

If your DC does not have a normal requirement for being in a separate room - eg need for laptop/reader/scribe/ill) then is reasonable for the school to ask you for contribution as invigilators are:
a) hard to find - suitable people willing to work ad-hoc for a few hours at a time
b) need to be paid!

blueemerald Wed 04-May-16 16:23:37

Yikes! I work in an SEN school and during our GCSE exam yesterday we needed 7 different rooms for 13 students.
As far as I am aware if a student has a reader or a scribe they have to be roomed separately? Otherwise the other students can hear the questions being read or the answers being spoken surely?

Also we only use our own staff for exam invidulation so no one needs to be paid extra for anything!

It seems outrageous to me that a room and a member of staff to sit in it can't be found for free.

MrsGuyOfGisbo Wed 04-May-16 16:34:29

I think teacher's Ts and Cs say they cannot be required to do invigilation, hence need for outside resource. if there is a medical req - eg kids has broken arm & cannot write, obv needs a scribe and need to be in a separate room.
If is is just a vaude non-specific, eg my kid gets anxous in exams ( who doesn't?) or is 'emetophobic' hmm (ie like most people - disgust reflex is universal) then unless a line is drawn, every parent starts demanding a separate room.

TranquilityofSolitude Wed 04-May-16 16:39:11

It looks as if some of it depends on whether or not you think mental illnesses are real illnesses.

blueemerald Wed 04-May-16 16:41:46

I guess in the school I work in we all know that if a student requires these access arrangements then they will do better with them. If they do better your department pass % goes up. You can't supervise your own subject so we all help each other out knowing that it balances out and every department benefits. But I will admit that is much easier with a maximum of 14 students in a year group!

MrsGuyOfGisbo Wed 04-May-16 16:50:11

maximum of 14 students in a year group
indeed...

TheNotoriousPMT Wed 04-May-16 16:56:23

I presume that the £275 is for ALL the exams, not each?

(invigilator pay is usually very slightly above NMW, and a large selection can be found at any good supply agency)

I don't know the exact ins and outs - does your dd have separate room specified as part of her access arrangements? Or could you ask the GP to write a letter to the school maybe? I agree with bluebonnie that the school might need to go and re-read the bit about 'reasonable adjustments'.

I have worked in state and independent schools and I have provided exam support to many students but I have never heard of students being charged extra for it.

There is a huge difference between 'feeling a bit anxious' and having an anxiety disorder.

TranquilityofSolitude Wed 04-May-16 17:47:39

Thank you. Yes, £275 is for all the exams. The GP has written a letter and this is the school's response. DD has only joined this school in the sixth form so did GCSEs elsewhere.

MrsTickleMonster Wed 04-May-16 17:59:00

Wow MrsGuy! Not a particularly helpful response... I'm guessing the OP and her GP have a better idea about what constitutes the daughter's medical condition than up you do. It might also be helpful for you to speak to someone with these conditions or do a little research (MIND, the mental health charity is very helpful) before you comment on other peoples' mental health.

I've worked in many schools and have never heard of a parent being asked to pay for invigilator.

noblegiraffe Wed 04-May-16 18:08:28

The school is breaking exam regulations if she is in a room where she can hear students with readers:

5.5.8 The centre is responsible for ensuring that the candidate and reader cannot be overheard by, or distract, other candidates. (This will also apply if the candidate uses a computer reader.)
If the candidate and reader are accommodated separately, on a one to one basis, the invigilator may additionally act as the reader.
(From JCQ access arrangements document)

So they are already on dodgy grounds when it comes to access arrangements. Even if they won't put her on her own, she shouldn't be in a room where she is distracted by readers.

OurBlanche Wed 04-May-16 18:22:08

I was going to quote hat, giraffe.

I used to arrange exams, readers, scribes, separate rooms ect etc etc. Never ever heard of a parent being asked to pay a basic requirement of the school - to provide adequate exam spaces.

If your DD has GP note, psych report etc then the Exam's Officer simply forwards the relevant paperwork to the exam boards - not all considerations need Exam Board agreement, separate room is one of those that does not!

Ask them why they are trying to bill you for exam access? Ask for their policy covering it and the reasonsfor you specifically, being charged. Then tell them to piss off and do their jobs properly, quoting JCQ etc etc.

Put JCQ in Google, you will get a lot of info, none of it is secret. It is all publicly available and whatever they say goes... all exam boards, all schools/colleges.

blueemerald Wed 04-May-16 18:24:13

I teach in a school for students with severe social, emotional and mental health difficulties MrsGuy so you can take you snotty attitude and shove it. Given your attitude towards the OP's daughter's difficulties you probably think there's nothing wrong with the students I teach that a good snack wouldn't sort out.

blueemerald Wed 04-May-16 18:25:15

Ha. Smack not snack. Did make me laugh though.

goinggetstough Wed 04-May-16 18:33:34

JCQ allow up to 4 students per room with a reader. This though is for students who only need the odd word read to them and not the whole paper. A student who required 1: 1 reader would need to be roomed separately.

Ill students as a previous poster suggested should be taking exams in a separate room/medical room.

weirdsister Wed 04-May-16 18:33:56

School are agreeing that dd requires the access arrangement in their response, they just don't want to pay. Outrageous!

weirdsister Wed 04-May-16 18:37:34

Op JCQ recognise that mental health difficulties require access arrangements to be made.

goinggetstough Wed 04-May-16 18:41:54

It does though depend on what access arrangements the school has requested.They also have to show that this is your DDs's normal way of working in addition to medical evidence. Our school would state that student X requires a smaller room. We would then paint a picture of need with the evidence from e.g. CAMHS and show that the student was unable to be in larger rooms or groups of people e.g. can't go to tutor/ assembly etc if they needed to be in their own room.
Although I don't agree with a previous poster who appeared to query the validity of the diagnosis schools have to be very careful and have a strict policy that they follow where it concerns smaller rooms in conjunction with the JCQ guidelines.

BackforGood Wed 04-May-16 18:47:49

Even if they were right to charge you, the amount seems ridiculously high - how many hours of exams will she be sitting? Invigilators get less than £10 an hour.....

Runningtokeepstill Wed 04-May-16 19:10:07

My ds took his GCSE exams at home. His school gave a part time TA, who lived nearby, some extra hours to invigilate. She was a none driver so another member of staff drove from school to our house, picked up the completed papers, and then took them back (8 mile round trip). We were not charged. Ds has a physical health condition but extreme anxiety was part of the reason for the arrangement. This was a mainstream state comprehensive.

TranquilityofSolitude Wed 04-May-16 19:29:06

Many thanks for all of your responses. The charge is £10/hour as she will be doing 27.5 hours of exams.

I will read through the responses in more detail and put together an email for school.

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