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Scribe for GSCE exams - any experience please?

(35 Posts)
bindibahji Wed 07-Sep-11 16:34:16

Child has sld Iincluding severe handwriting problems and is sitting his first 2 gcses this school year.
School are aware of his dyslexia problems etc but as he is very bright, they have put him down for the academic route, 11 gcses. in total including things like history which involve a LOT of writing. None of which he is likely to pass if no-one can read his writing or decipher his spelling.
School have said ''oh yes'' to my bleating on about getting him a scribe but whose decision is it? WHo do I nag (AND I HAVE LEARNED ENOUGH TO KNOW i must NAG...;) )
If the worst came to the worst, could I offer to pay for it myself?

Any experience or advice please?

bindibahji Wed 07-Sep-11 16:38:06

oh and if anyone's child out there has actually had a scribe for exams, how was it for them? How did you prepare for it?

scaryteacher Wed 07-Sep-11 16:38:33

You may have to pay, but I invigilated an A level this year where the student dictated their answer and it was typed as they spoke.

Nag the exams officer who should be the one to facilitate this for you.

MaureenMLove Wed 07-Sep-11 16:40:25

I don't have any personal experience of using a scribe, but at my secondary school there are plenty that do. We usually use TA's to scribe and they are arranged through the exams officer. Have you spoken directly to the exams office or just his class teachers?

goinggetstough Wed 07-Sep-11 16:42:43

My DS has a reader not a scribe and it was the SENCO that had to carry out the tests to see if he qualified for a reader and he has poor writing too so was allowed to type his answers.

CrosswordAddict Wed 07-Sep-11 16:51:45

See the Examinations Officer fairly early in the academic year as these special arrangement have to be sorted well ahead.
Candidates can either have a scribe who hand-writes down what they want to put or they may be allowed to use a word processor without the spell check.

PonceyMcPonce Wed 07-Sep-11 17:05:09


In order to qualify for a scribe (does he need a reader too?), your exam officer or senco will need test results demonstrating a clear need. These can be used to apply for access arrangements with the JCQ (these are valid for 2 years and apply for the major boards). The tests need to be recent and approved for this purpose.

The exam centre is the only entity that can apply for this. A parent cannot.

The provision should reflect his normal working practice.If he usually uses a keyboard with spellcheck, this would be the first option. If the paper is not suitable for typing, a scribe is another option.

This is the perfect time of year to test as any necessary provision should be put in place for the entire course of study. This also means your ds can practice the skill of dictating his answers - imo the exam room is not the first time to use a scribe!!!

If your ds shows a slow processing time, he may also be entitled to extra time.

these are the regs to quote.

Tell them to extract digit or flout the DDA and Equality Act

PonceyMcPonce Wed 07-Sep-11 17:05:29


mumeeee Wed 07-Sep-11 17:12:49

DD3 had a scribe for her GCSE's. The SENCO at school arranged an assessment for her and then it was agreed with the exam boards.

oldmum42 Wed 07-Sep-11 17:23:08

Worth thinking about the future, what will happen in university/work? Scribes are not a "real life solution", we were pushed by DS2's school, in the direction of using a scribe for exams, but we refused saying we wanted him to use a computer as this is how he would deal with his Dyslexia on a day to day basis in University and work. Amazingly, the schools head of special needs rubbished this idea on the grounds that "Dyslexic can't spell" (there one-solution-fits-all was Scribes for everyone with any kind of SLD affecting writing). We pushed for, and got to use a computer (with spell check of course)for the exams. We made the decision to push for a computer rather than a scribe for 2 reasons, first, DS2 said relaying his thoughts to another person would interrupt his trains of thought and he felt, lower his exam marks, but secondly, on the advice of family members and a friend, who between them teach at 3 different Universities - all expressed the opinion that computers should be used were ever possible, and that they would be unhappy with the use of a scribe for any student actually capable of typing an exam, as computers are promoting ABILITY and Scribes (unless actualy needed for other reasons) are emphasizing DISABILITY.

oldmum42 Wed 07-Sep-11 17:33:10

Have read some of the other replies - we are in Scotland and obviously different here, they are trialing exams done on computer for EVERY student (no spell checker), so schools can ask for computer exams for anyone they feel would benefit, but spell checker can be used by people with SLD, at the request of the school.

bindibahji Wed 07-Sep-11 17:36:16

thanks so much for responses.
Mercifully, he cant read fine. One less thing to worry about.

Do I have to rely on the school to arrange it all? Or am I allowed to chivvy them along nag

At present, he is allowed to type homework and I am allowed to 'scribe' longer peices of work for homework as his typing is still bloody slow. he is 13.5.
It is really hard, but he ie getting used to me saying: ''I can't help you, this must be your words'' smile last term we were promised netbooks for him to work on in class but surpsie, surprise, they haven't ever materialised.

I am getting worried that the school haven't arranged any assessment for this yet, despite the fact that every fricking new teacher he gets rings me up and says: ''ooh, handwriting is a big problem innit, I can't read it...''
And i have to bite my tongue and say: ''I had noticed. We have tried everything.''

Abgirl Wed 07-Sep-11 17:37:36

If using a computer is the student's normal way of working they can have a special arrangement put in place to allow this during the exam. Pretty sure no special tests required - will check though.

I work for an awarding body and this was a new provision in the JCQ regulations last year.

bindibahji Wed 07-Sep-11 17:41:48

oldmum, i have of course thought of the future (and panicked!) and he does do a lot on computer at home. but it is not a wealthy school and his problems are ''not as severe as some kids'' so he can't have access to a computer during lessons.
But other kids are not doing bloody 11 gcseS! They are doing Btecs which relies more on continuous assessment.
The school says intellectually he is capable of getting many As. But they don't seem to have thought that this is only going to happen if he can get it down on paper.
It is also the school's policy to make the Yr 9s do some gcses early. Which is fine, but means he has less time to learn to type sufficiently well to do exams on a computer. Right now, he can only pick and peck with two fingers.

PonceyMcPonce Wed 07-Sep-11 17:41:50

Argh - this drives me nuts.

We bought a netbook for dd and she has learned to touch type (typing uses less processing memory than handwriting, freeing up brain space for thinking) her school with a laptop on day 1 - yay!

Anyhow - if you can afford it, I would buy laptop and liaise directly with Exams Officer. No need to badger - polite prompts work!

If you have a mac you can download dragon naturally speaking and ds can dictate into mac, ipad or ipone which will create a file he can use and edit without any typing skills.

I think it is available for pcs, but not free!
Dictating also has the benefit of encouraging good diction grin

Def worth getting him to touchtype

Abgirl Wed 07-Sep-11 17:42:47

Yes, I was right, see section 2.8 of the document Poncey attached above.

Bindi never hurts to be a bit pushy where special arrangements are concernedwink

PonceyMcPonce Wed 07-Sep-11 17:45:51

If dyslexic, without scribe approval, he would not be able to have spell check.
If he is like my dd, he could hand in beautifully typed nonsense!

Abgirl Wed 07-Sep-11 17:51:19

Yes you are right poncey!

bindibahji Wed 07-Sep-11 18:13:52

poncy thank you so much for that document, it is really helpful smile

bindibahji Wed 07-Sep-11 18:15:49

yup, that is what happens npw Poncy - for some subjects, he does homework on a wiki-page and there is no spell check so it is gobbledegook smile
On the other hand, spell check throws up some howlers as he doesn't always realise the word has been changed to something else...

no easy answer!

oldmum42 Wed 07-Sep-11 18:25:17

Self teaching typing programs are available to download for free/almost free on the net, it's well worth making him do this - 15 mins a day would make a huge difference in a few months. Facebooking friends has also greatly improved my DS2 typing speed!

My ds brought his own laptop to school (one of those really cheap "eee", ones, they are only a couple of hundred but do everything they need for school). the school never objected to it though he was supposed to use the schools "alphasmart" ones, which he hated.

In fact, DS1 used a laptop during his final year (just because he wanted to), and the school had no problem with that.... it's just, the more typing your DS does, the better he will get.

I am amazed no spellchecker allowed for Dyslexics in England????

bindibahji Wed 07-Sep-11 18:30:20

we bought him a lap top for homework but as we are not wealthy and really could not afford to replace, and his school is quite a challenging environment wink sometimes, there is no WAY he could take it on the bus, 4 miles every day in tact I'm afraid.

hellhasnofury Wed 07-Sep-11 18:32:38

DS didn't use a scribe, as someone else said it can really disjoint their train of thought but he did have his work transcribed. Both his own work and the transcribed copies were submitted for marking.

hellhasnofury Wed 07-Sep-11 18:34:38

It's worth asking if he qualifies for extra time too. DS did as his writing speed was below a certain speed.

PonceyMcPonce Wed 07-Sep-11 18:36:55

Def keep badgering then - most schools have some knackered old laptops knocking around that would be ok for word processing.

spellcheck is allowed for dyslexics, but tests by a specialist teacher are required to demonstrate need.

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