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Scribe/reader for Maths GCSE

(19 Posts)
happymummy2010 Wed 08-May-19 19:47:07

My DS has asd/adhd and his writing is illegible and so the school have arranged for him to use a laptop for his GCSEs next year, which is great for all subjects except Maths.

At Parents evening tonight the Maths teacher suggested I speak to the SENCO about arranging for my DS to have a scribe for Maths.

Does anyone know how this would work ?

Would someone write his answers for him, which I think may be difficult as surely DS will have to do the workings to get to the answer or would someone review his paper at the end of the exam and ensure the workings can be followed and the answer is legible?

Is it a Scribe or a Reader I should be suggesting to the SENCO ?

Has anyone experience of having extra support for the Maths GCSE ?

OP’s posts: |
Blueemeraldagain Wed 08-May-19 19:49:57

I teach in an SEMH secondary school and all our students are entitled to a reader and scribe for all of the GCSE exams. If they have it for one then they have to choice to use it on all. Maths is a trickier one and some do choose to write for themselves and just use the reader part of their entitlement.

Saucery Wed 08-May-19 19:50:44

A scribe would write his workings and answers down as he speaks them. Transcribing would happen after in cases of illegibility. You’d need a good working knowledge of the subject, so the school needs to start considering it now.

Blueemeraldagain Wed 08-May-19 19:52:18

Sorry. Pressed post too soon. A laptop can be used at the school’s discretion so is much easier to get than a reader/scribe which needs to be approved by JCQ.

The best way to see what helps you son is to try scribe/reader/reader and scribe and see what works for him and then take that information to the school.

Hatemadeupwords Wed 08-May-19 19:53:14

I scribe and read for GCSE. The students I have usually have extra time as well and it def helps. I will write everything I am asked to, the best I have found is where they write it out but tell me what they are writing and I write it legibly. Examiner can then see both workings out.

Greenandcabbagelooking Wed 08-May-19 19:54:52

I scribed for maths exams. My student would do the all maths on scrap paper, then dictate it to me so he wasn’t trying to do the maths and dictate at the same time.

Dermymc Wed 08-May-19 19:54:59

Scribes can write anything your son dictates for maths. There can be a combination of scribe written work and the candidates own handwriting.

They wouldn't be able to review and make sure it is legible. But they could write down sums or working out if he dictated it.

I'm making a big assumption that he will be doing the foundation paper based on what you've said above. There are a higher proportion of 1-2 mark questions on them. This is good because it means he can probably do more of the working in his head and ask the scribe to write the answer.

Readers in Maths are not supposed to read out Mathematical symbols like a plus sign as "add" or an inequality sign as "less than" so the reading of some questions can be a little disjointed. If he doesn't have a reader for other subjects he won't be able to get one just for Maths.

Depending on his needs, the SENCO will assess him to find out if he qualifies for a reader/scribe. The fact he uses a laptop would definitely suggest a scribe is appropriate.

Dermymc Wed 08-May-19 19:56:04


That shouldn't be happening! Any paper used in the exam should be sent off with the exam.

Singleandproud Wed 08-May-19 20:00:30

In order to have a scribe it needs to be your DS's normal way of working so you need to get the SENCO to get him assessed sooner rather than later as it is an external person who comes in to do so and then he will have a TA in class (if one is available) to write for him.

In the exam the TA will sit next to him and he will dictate what to write or he can write for himself or a mixture of both.

If he is assesed and they find a reader to be appropriate for him a TA will sit next to him and read the text. However, in some english exams they can only read the questions and not the excerpt. In maths they cannot read the operations (+, -, /, x, =) and numbers will be read as single digits, 230 would be read two three zero. In my experiences scribes and reader are used less in maths than other subjects.

If he uses a computer than it will not have a spell checker on it. Students oftern benefit from these in the wordy subjects. In science they often answer the short answers, add labels and tick box questions in the question paper and write the longer ones on the computer.

If he has a slow work rate or processing issues he may qualify for extra time.

All of these access arrangements need assesing by the external person so you need to flag this up and chase it up if necessary.

Greenandcabbagelooking Wed 08-May-19 20:03:39

Dermymc - it was! It just saved him taking up all the answer space in the paper with his huge, illegible, writing.

MillicentMartha Wed 08-May-19 20:04:04

DS2 had a scribe for his GCSEs, but not a reader as his reading ability was fine, and not extra time as his processing didn’t meet the criteria despite having full time 1:1 and an EHCP. Basically, using a scribe meant that he didn’t require extra time as the scribe could write quickly enough for him. TBH, he didn’t use his scribe for his maths GCSE, it just didn’t work.

I have acted as a reader myself but never for maths. As a reader I could read back what the DC had written to them so they could make corrections if what they’d written wasn’t what they’d intended. A scribe without being a reader can’t read back but the student can tell them when and what to write. It’s quite a skill to learn as a student and needs to be used in lessons and tests before GCSE to get any decent benefit IMO.

MillicentMartha Wed 08-May-19 20:06:58

I should add I could only read back what they’d written if they asked me to.

Punxsutawney Wed 08-May-19 22:04:37

Do the schools need evidence for laptop use? Ds has lots of handwriting issues and the school told us they would not allow laptop use without a professional report stating that he needed one. We have been fortunate and he has seen an amazing nhs OT who has written a full report with her recommendations that he uses a laptop at all times. Although the school received that report two weeks ago and as yet they haven't bothered to deal with it. They are useless though.

mathslaptopuser Thu 09-May-19 06:51:13

This is quite a big issue for us as well. My DS writes with a laptop all the time, so that is his usual way of working, which works really well for all subjects apart from Maths.

He has had a scribe for previous Maths tests, but this year according to the teacher who deals with access arrangements, they have changed the rules so that the students can only use one method of recording across all subjects.
We wanted DS to use his laptop in the Maths GCSE, but they are only allowed to use a basic word processing document, with no maths notation/equation editor. So he wouldn't be able to write out fractions, powers etc. Which I find rather ridiculous! Which has meant that DS's grades have gone from being a 6 to a 2.

The Senco and the access arrangements teacher are contacting JCQ to see if there is a way round this - either by using a scribe as a one off, or as a laptop user with an equation editing programme.
I'm glad you started this thread, as I was starting to feel we were the only ones affected by this!

happymummy2010 Thu 09-May-19 08:05:35

Thanks so much for all your replies. I have just emailed the SENCO to see if extra support in Maths can be investigated

OP’s posts: |
TeenTimesTwo Thu 09-May-19 08:28:24

they have changed the rules so that the students can only use one method of recording across all subjects.

Surely that can't be right?!

Dermymc Thu 09-May-19 10:08:05

@mathslaptopuser and @teentimestwo

I've read the JCQ guidance for this year and it explicitly states access arrangements should be considered on a subject by subject basis. I've attached a screenshot which may be too small to read. However the link below in section 4.2 might be of interest.

mathslaptopuser Thu 09-May-19 11:23:40


Thank you for the link, that is great, but I wonder whether the same wording will apply in GCSE exams for 2020?

The access arrangements teacher said that they had been on a recent exam board course for 2020, and that the new rules were applicable for then. It would be great though if it isn't true!

Dermymc Thu 09-May-19 11:31:02

I can't find the regs for 2020 online yet. I'll have a word with the senco and see if they know more. It would be odd for such a drastic change which would impact on many students. But JCQ are a law unto themselves! I can't see how it will be fair or workable though.

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