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Exam concessions - need understanding please.

(26 Posts)
SallyBear Tue 29-Oct-13 23:34:51

DS1 has ASD, Dyspraxia and severe Dyslexia. He is also very bright and with help and support in class is in top sets for most of his subjects. He needs a scribe as he can't write or spell. He is using a laptop in class but his typing speed is very slow avg 17wpm but we are working on it.

Tonight I had dinner out with girlfriends, one of whom is a SN TA at DS's secondary school. She told me that a scribe in GCSE would mean that he would have marks deducted. Is this right? Surely this is a form of discrimination against a disability. Is she right, or does she not understand the rules correctly. Anyone out there with any knowledge or insight to answer this for me please?

zzzzz Wed 30-Oct-13 01:10:08

It sounds highly unlikely sally.

You can phone the exam board direct, school or someone like NAS would know. I wil ask my sources wink but it will take a few days cos of half term. If you don't know by next week and I forget pm me.

I really think it's unlikely though. I should think there is a slightly adjusted marking scheme. It isn't necessarily easier to have a scribe, just different.

senmerrygoround Wed 30-Oct-13 06:00:53

Hi Sally, I did a quick google and found this

I don't know if it's current, but I would seem there are different marking schemes.

God, I hope I'm wrong as ds is similar to yours angry

district12 Wed 30-Oct-13 07:07:41

I have heard they take marks too, it seems so very unfair , what's the point of having a scribe to stop you being disadvantaged ,and then take marks off for it. I really hope someone challenges this soon. does anyone know if they take marks off just for laptop use but no spell check or scribe?

streakybacon Wed 30-Oct-13 08:00:10

The JCQ guidelines do get updated every year so it's worth having a look at each update so you know the rules are current.

JCQ are very helpful in clarifying any misunderstandings about access arrangements so email them with your concerns and ask. It may also very between exam boards so you could enquire there too. Tbh I wouldn't leave it to the SENCo to sort out for you as they may be fobbed off. Do it yourself and present it to school as current information. I did it all myself because I home educate, and formalised the arrangements through the exam centre's SENCo.

streakybacon Wed 30-Oct-13 08:04:27


SallyBear Wed 30-Oct-13 08:32:28

Thanks girls. I was really pissed off about it as she was implying that he would be at an advantage over more able students. So what would happen if an A* student lost the use of their arm? It seems utterly ridiculous to me. DS dictates like a train, but I don't think that anyone has explained to him how it's done properly. Does he need to be responsible for his scribe's spelling too? Some of the TAs that have scribed for him in lessons have dreadful spelling, making common errors yet no one pulls them up on it. It frightens the crap out of me tbh. He's in year 9. Maybe once they're back next week I will find out what exam boards the school uses and as someone said, do my own research.

Glad I'm not alone in worrying about this. Thank you ladies.

stillstanding29 Wed 30-Oct-13 08:58:24

Just a thought, at my son's school there is an examinations officer. Might he/she be a useful point of contact?

I am planning to email her today to check arrangements are still in place to support my diabetic son in his upcoming GCSE. He just needs to sit at the front and have hypo stuff and his testing kit available. But they seem to have forgotten. It won't do any one any good if he has a massive hypo surrounded by other pupils and miles away from the door.

LIZS Wed 30-Oct-13 09:00:10

The rules keep changing so what applies this year may not by the time he takes his GCSEs.

SallyBear Wed 30-Oct-13 09:23:08

True enough LIZS. I just want clarification on what happens overall so that I can manage expectations.

I was really upset about this conversation last night, because unless you've seen a child struggle with Dyslexia you cannot possibly grasp just how frustrating it is for them. I didn't really understand what it was properly, until I had DS1 then the further he got through school the more difficulty he faced. He absorbs knowledge like a sponge. Verbally he's amazing but get him to write it on paper, it would take him 30 minutes to try and write two lines. So how is that an advantage over a non dyslexic child?

His twin sister is deaf. She speaks and hears with a bone conduction hearing aid. She will need to apply for exam concessions of an extra 25% time on account of her deafness to allow her to process the information properly. So she will also have marks taken off to, apparently. angry

It just seems like discrimination if this is actually what happens.

LIZS Wed 30-Oct-13 09:43:47

We still haven't had clarification for ds who is already in year11 and has previously had access arrangements . Does he get extra time for slow processing ?

district12 Wed 30-Oct-13 09:44:32

It is discrimination, marks should not be taken off just because some students needs aids to make the exam fair to them. My ds has severe dyspraxia and doesn't, ever use a pen for any lessons in school and so will need to use a laptop exams. He is still at a disadvantage to hie peers ,even with extra time , but will still have marks deducted .

district12 Wed 30-Oct-13 09:48:44

Sorry for typos , am I also right in thinking , that any a* pupil using scribes or extra time will never be able to get that a* if they always automatically takes marks off?. Seems very unfair to the very bright children with sen.

streakybacon Wed 30-Oct-13 09:54:35

It IS worth speaking to the exams officer at the school. I sorted my son's arrangements by having regular contact with JCQ, Edexcel, and at the school the Exams Officer and SENCo - together we collated all the information we needed for the SENCo to make formal application to JCQ and we got 25% extra time and use of a laptop to type the exam. (DS has autism/ADHD so a different set of circumstances to the OP). JCQ advised me on the actual wording for my son's consultant to write a supporting statement describing how his symptoms affect him and recommending certain arrangements be in place for his exams. Between us all we tweaked it until the wording was correct.

I would definitely do as much of it as you can for yourself as it's quite a big task for the SENCo if they're not familiar with it. And I'd also start planning for it now so that by the time exams come, it will be the candidate's 'normal way of working' which gives assurance in itself that it's in their best interests.

SallyBear Wed 30-Oct-13 10:02:31

Thank you all for your support. It means a lot. Also it shows that I'm not alone with my concerns as you are all facing the same thing.

I am going to research it all on Monday and start making contact with the bodies involved. Thank you again.

PolterGoose Wed 30-Oct-13 18:53:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SallyBear Wed 30-Oct-13 19:11:20

Is she pissed off too, Polter?! grin
Thanks I will go and look.

MariaNoMoreLurking Wed 30-Oct-13 20:24:06

jcq Example of how assessment objectives may impact on access arrangements:
• A candidate with severe dyslexia wants to take GCSE English and GCSE Spanish but cannot read or write adequately.
• He can have an adjustment in the form of a computer reader in the Reading sections of the GCSE English paper and the GCSE Spanish.
• He cannot have a scribe in the writing papers for GCSE Spanish unless he is able to dictate each foreign word letter by letter.
• He can have a scribe though in the Reading and Writing sections of the GCSE English paper. • However, where separate marks are awarded for spelling and punctuation these cannot be credited.
• It may be appropriate to enter the candidate for GCSE Spanish if, with extra time of up to 50%, or the use of a word processor with spelling and grammar check disabled, he can access the writing papers independently.

tbh, it looks to me like they're cruising for a legal challenge.

MariaNoMoreLurking Wed 30-Oct-13 20:33:10

scroll down to page 6 for the RE arrangements

Grammar, punctuation and spelling together make up 5%. I can't see how using a scribe gives you grammatical advantages. Punctuation: well, I suppose it depends who decides where the commas go. Spelling, well, as said above, having a poorly educated TA as scribe might well be a major disadvantage for some children.

I doubt we'll get anywhere complaining about our dc with SEN though. Someone taking the exam board to court might help. Alternatively, we need a very able child (with a politician parent) to (barely) miss out on their Oxbridge place after breaking both arms skiing prior to A'levels.

MariaNoMoreLurking Wed 30-Oct-13 20:52:33

Spanish writing (30% of total)

The marking criteria does not say anywhere that correct spelling is the key skill being assessed, so expecting candidates to dictate words letter by letter would probably not be a 'reasonable adaptation'. A candidate using a scribe (or VR software, since a typical smartphone can cope with Spanish dictation at a fair speed) for writing difficulties, might well still score some 'accuracy' marks for having good grammar. And given that Spanish spelling is exceptionally transparent and phonetic, even a dyslexic student might score fairly well there.

Assessment Criteria
13-15 Very Good Fully relevant and detailed response to the task. Sound ability to convey information clearly, express and explain ideas and points of view. Well organised structure.
10-12 Good Mostly relevant response to the task &shows ability to convey a lot of information clearly, express and explain ideas and points of view.
7-9Sufficient Response to the task is generally relevant with quite a lot of information clearly communicated. Points of view are expressed and ideas are developed.
4-6Limited Limited response to the task with some relevant information conveyed. Simple opinions are expressed and there is some development of basic ideas.
1-3Poor Very limited response to the task with little relevant information conveyed. No real structure.
0The answer shows no relevant to the task set. A zero score will automatically result in a zero score for the answer as a whole.

Range of Language
9-10Wide variety of appropriate vocabulary and structures. More complex sentences are handled with confidence and verb tenses are used successfully.
7-8Good variety of appropriate vocabulary and structures used. More complex sentences are attempted and are mostly successful.
5-6Some variety of vocabulary and structures used, including attempts at longer sentences using appropriate linking words which are sometimes successful.
3-4Vocabulary is appropriate to the basic needs of the task and structures are mostly simple.
1-2Inappropriate vocabulary with little understanding of language structure.
0No language produced which is worthy of credit.

5Largely accurate, although there may still be some errors especially in attempts at more complex sentences. Verbs and tense formations are secure.
4Generally accurate with errors occurring in attempts at more complex sentences. Verb and tense formations are usually correct.
3More accurate than inaccurate. Verb forms and tense formations are sometimes unsuccessful. The intended meaning is clear.
2Many errors which often impede communication. Verb forms are rarely accurate.
1Limited understanding of the most basic linguistic structures. Frequent errors regularly impede communication.
0No language produced which is worthy of credit.

SallyBear Wed 30-Oct-13 21:05:24

We decided not to let him take a MFL as he struggled with learning Italian spellings.

His verbal strengths are in English, physics, chemistry, RE, History, Art and Drama. He's very good at Maths and Computing. Just not good at languages.

I have seen the spelling mistakes by the TAs, who are used as scribes in his school. It doesn't fill me with confidence in an exam.

NoHaudinMaWheest Wed 30-Oct-13 21:21:42

Ds sat his GCSEs this summer. He has ASD OCD and dyslexia. He had a scribe, extra time and rest breaks if he needed them.

As far as I understand it, most exams have a small percentage mark for grammar, punctuation and spelling. If the student has a scribe spelling is automatically scored 0 and obviously in some circumstances would be a disadvantage for a student. (Not for Ds though, the scribe's spelling would have to be truly absymal.) The scribe has to write exactly what the student says so the student's grammar can still be marked and the student also has to say where the punctuation goes so again that can be marked.

It is quite a skill to dictate well so it would be good for your ds to get some practise in.

Ds got two A* so it is clearly not impossible.

The SENCO needs to say what the student's needs are but it is the Exams Officer who knows the ins and outs of what is allowed and how to request help so they are the best point of contact.

Anything allowed in exams has to be in accordance with the student's usual way of working so you must get that established but in yr 9 you have plenty of time.

SallyBear Wed 30-Oct-13 21:34:13

Thanks NWMW. Well done to your DS on his 2 A*!! Very impressed!

mymatemax Wed 30-Oct-13 21:49:39

Basically they wont credit a student for any marks that the student has not independently obtained.
So someone with no arms could get all spelling & grammatical marks if they spell each word & instruct the scribe where to put the punctuation.
Someone with dyslexia for example will only be credited with the content but possibly not the spelling & punctuation, although this will depend on how/what additional support is agreed with the exam board.
In any subject where punctuation/spelling etc does not form part of the assessment then they should not lose any marks for the use of a scribe.

SallyBear Sat 02-Nov-13 12:49:05

And people wonder why I am panicking now? My dd is deaf and she will need exam concessions just like the child in this blog. here

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