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How do I apply for DS1 to do his IGCSEs using a computer instead of writing?

(38 Posts)
ToffeeWhirl Fri 01-Feb-13 10:03:34

This is still a long way off, as he is not working on any yet, but I have been wondering what the procedure is for this and whether anyone here has any experience of this.

At the moment, DS1 (13) practises his handwriting for five to ten minutes daily. He can't do more than that because it makes his hand hurt too much. He has been doing the daily practise for four months now and his writing has improved in the handwriting exercise books, but as soon as he has to write something himself, it's all over the place. He is embarrassed by it, but he just can't seem to improve.

He is using a Nessy Touchtyping programme (for dyslexics) as this is clearly a skill that he is going to need. I get him to do as much of his work as possible on the computer as he can then do work that he is proud of. The difference between what he writes and what he types is extraordinary. You would think it was a different child.

Incidentally, he is on a waiting list to see an OT for his handwriting issues. We have been waiting over a year now.

So, when the time comes for DS1 to sit exams, and assuming his writing hasn't caught up by then (which I don't think it will. Interestingly, his Dad also has poor handwriting and struggled with writing in exams at school), how do I apply for dispensation for him to type answers, rather than write them? Do I write to the exam board and ask them? Will they provide a computer, or will we have to bring one ourselves? What sort of evidence will we need to provide to prove that DS needs this opportunity? How easy is it to get permission?

I am worrying about it now because it has dawned on me that he really isn't going to be able to demonstrate his abilities through writing. Can anyone put my mind at rest?

morethanpotatoprints Fri 01-Feb-13 18:49:04

Hi Toffee.
Can't help much I'm afraid as only had experience in FE colleges and high schools. However, I do know that if your ds has a statement or diagnosis of dispraxia or dyslexia he has a right to be assessed for support. I never knew anybody refused a computer and many who have readers.
I think arrangements can be made with the board and when you apply to the centre you state your needs.
Can't be 100% sure. I'm sure somebody will be along soon who knows for sure.

FionaJNicholson Fri 01-Feb-13 18:49:57

It's called Access Arrangements and you basically have to prove that it's their normal way of working

some info here

MariscallRoad Fri 01-Feb-13 19:03:39

CIE has Special Arrangements. You would need to contact the centre which examines IGCE to find what you need to do.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 01-Feb-13 19:19:40

Fiona and Mariscal

How shocking am I?
I had access arrangements myself a few years ago and have sent dozens of students to be assessed and my memory now goes blank,.


I wouldn't worry too much he will get the support he needs.

ToffeeWhirl Fri 01-Feb-13 21:03:50

Thank you everyone.

DS1 isn't diagnosed as dyslexic anymore (he was, then he lost it [confused). He is diagnosed as Tourettes with OCD, which maybe is a bit less common than dyslexia.

How on earth do I prove that it is his normal way of working?

Will go and google the links. Thanks again.

MariscallRoad Fri 01-Feb-13 22:21:32

morethanpotatoprints, it is not strange at all smile.

MariscallRoad Fri 01-Feb-13 22:28:16

ToffeeWhirl, you need to contact the centre where you d like DS to sit the exam and ask them what they need in order to make access/special arrangements for time etc.

MariscallRoad Fri 01-Feb-13 23:21:04

ToffeeWhirl Dyslexia is assessed by an educational psychologist or a PATOSS.

ToffeeWhirl Sat 02-Feb-13 00:02:22

Right, I have read and tried to absorb all the linked information smile.

So far, DS1 fits into several categories. He will certainly need the word processor and it looks as if that is quite a straightforward request. He may also be entitled to extra time, as he has a very poor working memory and is also slowed down by his OCD habits. He may need rest periods because of his anxiety, OCD and tics. And he may even need a prompter because he comes under the category of losing concentration easily and having OCD which may prevent him from making progress through the paper unless he is reminded.

Blimey, he's not going to get all that though, is he? I suppose I will just have to work out which are the most important adjustments that he needs.

Does anyone know if I'm allowed to submit evidence of DS1's work myself, even though I'm his mum? I could also submit evidence from the ed psych who assessed him for dyslexia, his psychiatrist and from a private tutor. Hopefully that would be enough <frets>.

DS1 is far from ready to sit any exams, so I don't know why this is worrying me so much now. I think I just want to know roughly what lies ahead.

Thanks again for the links and reassurance everyone. I am really enjoying home educating DS1, but the difficulties of booking exams for him myself (finding centres) and making alternative arrangements for him are more of a concern. Usually, you don't have to worry about these things at school because it's all sorted out for you by people who know the system.

MariscallRoad Sat 02-Feb-13 02:48:35

* Toffee* you will find the Handbook of Cambridge Eaminations for exams in 2013 here:
In p 18, section 1.2 you will find Access Arrangements. It has a helpful table p 19 on what the centres can do. It will be helpful to read it before u contact the centre. You may also contact CIE.

DS may resit exams.

Is it coursework evidence you want to submit? ask the local librarian if s/he can help you with this querry.

streakybacon Sat 02-Feb-13 07:24:40

You'll find the information you need at Joint Council for Qualifications website: JCQ

I'm in the process of arranging this at the moment for my son so I'm quite up to date on the complexities. It's true that if your child has a statement you're half way there, but a lot depends on the exam centre as well and how they conduct exams. It's not straighforward.

It also helps if your son works with a keyboard as his Normal Way Of Working, though you'd have to prove that's the case.

The best way to do it is to read through the JCQ Access Arrangements page (on the link above) and find out what your son will need, then discuss it further with the SENCo at your chosen exam centre. They'll fill in the gaps for you on the best ways to approach it.

I've been told we can either go for a medical route (in which case a medical report will suffice, confirming the specific difficulties ds has), or an assessment route in which case you'll need EP reports or similar detailing the problems. Other documentation may also be necessary.

As with all these things, it's hard to advise because each situation is unique, but JCQ and the SENCo should be your starting points.

ToffeeWhirl Sat 02-Feb-13 10:15:26

Maris - thank you for this link - you have been such a help. Re: coursework. I assume DS will have to do IGCSEs, which are exam based, because I don't think there is a way of submitting coursework when you home educate. This is a pity, because he will probably not do as well in a pressurised exam situation as he would with his coursework. When you say, ask the local librarian, do you mean that he/she will know a way for him to submit coursework? confused

streaky - my son doesn't have a statement because I decided to withdraw him from school and put what energy I had left into home educating rather than fighting to get him a statement [worn out emoticon]. It is certainly true that DS's normal and preferred way of working is on a keyboard, but I'm not sure how I prove this, although I could certainly turn to the professionals involved in his life (EP, psych, hopefully an OT when the appointment FINALLY angry comes through).

I'm interested that you are going through this yourself at the moment. How difficult has it been? Is your son sitting IGCSEs rather than GCSEs?

almostanotherday Sat 02-Feb-13 10:20:28

Reading this and wondering if I could do the same for my son, his school has said they will be sorting him out a writing aid over the next few week due to dyspraxia and ADD.

ToffeeWhirl Sat 02-Feb-13 10:38:12

I think if he has a writing aid as his normal mode of work at school, almost, then it will be quite straightforward for him to get that in exams too. As your son is at school, the teachers (SENCO, maybe?) should sort it all out for him, although you may need to nag encourage them. If your son is not able to show his true potential without a writing aid, then he should be entitled to one.

mummytime Sat 02-Feb-13 10:44:03

You could also talk to someone like the NEC (you don't have to buy their course) to see what you would have to do to get accommodations (the technical term) for your DS if he did his iGCSEs with them.

I would also investigate alternative courses, and look at where he wants to get to, and what qualifications he really needs.

Jamillalliamilli Sat 02-Feb-13 16:20:24

Hi Toffee, we’re currently doing A levels having done both IGCSE’s and GCSE’s.

There are ways of submitting coursework as HE, (we have) but they are very hard going, and can (and anecdotally often are) marked down. You can also do ISA’s (science) through any school or college that will co-operate, but IGCSE’s are a lot simpler, and stress free. (and currently more highly regarded by uni’s if that may be applicable at some point)

Assuming all current plans go ahead by the time your ds sits the system will likely have changed again, (but I’ll probably still be on the other thread!) but please don’t worry too much.

At the moment all you need to be doing is keeping basic evidence of it being his normal method of working and any paperwork that gives speeds, accuracy, or reasons for difficulties, ed psych reports etc, and keeping it well filed so you can show the history easily. (this isn’t essential but makes it all much simpler later) Your own daily diary is fine if it’s laid out well enough, (note that ‘catch up he file’ you see in my fly list, it includes his struggles with writing, typing speeds, and remedial work. :-))

There are two ‘types’ of access arrangements candidates: those who are disabled (within the meaning of the 2010 Equality Act ) and those with LD’s. If the candidate is both always go down the medical (disabled) route.

As Streaky says it’s all on the JCQ site, (it’s known as the ‘pink book’ in education circles) but is always subject to future changes: (for those needing extra time, sometimes starting at Page 7 and 8’s visual chart’s and working backwards can be helpful)

Often the simplest way (including if it’s medical tbh) currently to ensure smooth dealings is to have recent* standardised EP test scores evidencing the needs, and basic report, copy of form JCQ AA 8 (download from JCQ here: ) with the right bits filled and pre-signed by EP (allows the exam centre to use it or as evidence for their own) available to the exam centre along with your records of normal method of working available to them.
This allows you to make it easier for any exam centre to accommodate the candidate, and make them happier to let them sit. (Be aware access arrangement candidates have earlier cut of entrance dates than standard, your centre’s exam’s officer will know them or you can ask your exam board)

*A level candidates who’ve turned 18 or will have by exam date, need an adult EP standardised test, as the standard ones only cover to 17, even if the candidate is statemented to need access arrangements.

The exam centre must provide the computer readied for exam conditions, ie ‘cleaned’ and internet etc disabled. (if a very disabled child is using an adapted one, there’s a huge process to get the computer checked and exam ready) If there’s an issue with physical need for laptop/ built in/separate key board make sure they’re aware early. The easier and least grief you make the exam centre’s life, the more likely to be let sit there, and the more likely they are to accommodate future HE/ HE SEN students. smile

Hth a bit.

Jamillalliamilli Sat 02-Feb-13 16:26:35

Almost ideally the SENCO will do all the right things for your child, however you may need to work with the SENCO to ensure most things are in place at the beginning of whichever exam syllabus is being taken and they are documenting the ‘picture of need’ and expect to be organising access arrangements for them with the exam’s officer closer to the date.

streakybacon Sat 02-Feb-13 17:35:54

Toffee I've been planning this for a long time and gathering evidence for well over a year. I first spoke with the exam centre's SENCo about 18 months ago and have gone over JCQ guidelines so that I've been gathering the right kind of information for when it's needed. Like you, we don't have a statement for my son but LA have allowed access to Ed Psych to do an exam arrangements assessment, but that only goes towards the final application.

If you want extra time, scribe or other 'big' allowances you do need a statement or EP report that justifies it. You can't just say it's normal way of working for that - it has to be evidenced. Keyboard yes - the exam centre doesn't have to make a formal application for that and can just agree to it at SENCo level.

Even once you have the arrangements in place it's still not straightforward. My son will be taking Physics and Chemistry exams in the summer but won't be able to use a keyboard because the exam centre uses Wordpad for keyboard allowances and it doesn't allow for scientific notation, equations etc.

It might be worth having a look at some of the past papers as well, so you can see how the exams are laid out and know exactly what kind of problems your son is likely to face.

streakybacon Sat 02-Feb-13 17:37:46

Oh, and yes, he's doing IGCSEs. It hasn't been straightforward but far easier than it might have been as we have an excellent exam centre who are very keen to help. Our local LA were rubbish and hadn't the first clue about how home educators should go about exams. In practice, it's far better to deal directly with the centre's SENCo and exam officer as they'll know exactly what they require from you.

ToffeeWhirl Sat 02-Feb-13 17:51:57

You are all brilliant grin. I feel much more hopeful now. I was beginning to get a panicky feeling whenever I imagined the exams.

Just cooking dinner, but will come back and read properly when DC are in bed. Thanks all.

SDeuchars Sun 03-Feb-13 15:14:30

Do you think DS may be ready to go to college before he is ready to take exams? Given what you have said, I'm wondering if it may be easier (if he can cope with it) for him to go into college at 15 or 16 without any exams and let them deal with the arrangements. It is often easier to get accommodations in FE and HE than in school (and certainly easier than for independent candidates).

SDeuchars Sun 03-Feb-13 15:14:54

Sorry, that last HE meant higher education, not home ed.

MariscallRoad Sun 03-Feb-13 18:28:15

I think Deuchars is right. Good idea smile.

MariscallRoad Sun 03-Feb-13 18:33:51

In HE they get mentors which is v good!

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