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Guidance about deaf and VI candidates in the 2021 examinations series

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As you know, along with colleagues from VIEW, NDCS and RNIB, BATOD has been working with Ofqual through the Access Consultation Forum (ACF) to ensure that their guidance reflects the needs of deaf and VI candidates. This is especially important where access arrangements related to work being assessed for grading candidates in the absence of examinations this year and the role of the specialist teacher are concerned. We are pleased to note that Ofqual has reacted positively to our discussions and this is reflected in the guidance they have just published as is described below in a recent communication from Ofqual:

“I’m getting in touch to let you know that later today we will be publishing the outcome of our technical consultations on the awarding of GCSEs, AS and A levels and VTQs for 2021. This will include the head of centre document for GCSEs, AS and A levels and the information on making objective judgements which will be relevant to both general and some vocational and technical qualifications. Paul Simpson: The key documents are here:



Given your concerns about the potential impact of the arrangements for awarding this year on disabled students, I wanted to share with you the references to working with specialist teachers when determining grades and on the need for reasonable adjustments to be in place for assessment evidence (and where it is not for that to be taken into account in the grading). We revised these references following the helpful discussion we had on the last ACF call, so thank you for your contribution there.

The Head of Centre document now includes the following:

Reasonable adjustments for disabled students and access arrangements should have been in place when evidence was generated. Where they were not, centres should take that into account when coming to their judgement. Where appropriate, this should include input from the SENCo, specialist teachers and other professionals. Centres will need to ensure that they meet their obligations under the Equality Act 2010. Centres should note that they are not permitted to charge students for putting in place reasonable adjustments.

Where a student has worked with a specialist teacher or education professional, the centre should seek information from them as appropriate when considering the available evidence for a student and in coming to their grading judgement. This might include, for example, seeking information from qualified teachers of deaf or visually impaired learners, or teachers of EAL learners or virtual school team(s) working with looked after children studying at the centre. Centres with private candidates should also refer to the detailed guidance from JCQ. While discussions with teachers and other professionals should take place before the teacher assessed grade is decided by the centre, those final judgements should be kept confidential within the centre.

The Head of Centre declaration also includes the following statement:

I am satisfied that each student’s grade is based on an appropriately broad range of evidence, including evidence from other centres, providers or specialist teachers if relevant, and is their own work
access arrangements and reasonable adjustments were provided with appropriate input from the SENCo and other specialists (and where they were not, that has been taken into account)

JCQ and the exam boards were also on the ACF call so are aware of these points and we have asked that they reflect them in their more detailed guidance that will follow shortly.

Please note the Scottish guidance can be found here.