Frequently Asked Questions

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Storage of Records

Q. How long do I need to keep assessment record forms and reports?

A. Tutors and Assessors who work in a freelance capacity will almost certainly store personal data and student records.

Patoss, in consultation with our legal partners, recommends that records should be kept for as long as the time limit for civil proceedings would apply:

  • Where a service is contractually agreed, for 6 years.
    If it is a matter of a service contractually agreed, records should be kept for younger learners until they reach the age of 24, or for 6 years after the contract finished for those over 18 at the time of the contracted service.
  • For personal injury, for 3 years.
    In this context 'personal injury' can be construed as psychological. If the individual is under 18 then the 3 year period starts from the individual's 18th birthday.

Either paper or electronic records can be kept. When keeping electronic records, it is important to consider security arrangements (just as you would for paper copies) such as encryption or passwords, and also how files are backed up. 

The General Data Protection Regulations [GDPR] require every organisation processing personal data to register with the ICO (Information Commissioner's Office). This can be done online or by telephone and further information can be found here (yearly fee):   If you store any data on your home computer or keep any paper records you will need to register.  If you work for an education provider they will have their own systems in place. 

Career Pathway

Q. How do I train to become a specialist teacher/assessor?

A. Most specialist teacher/assessor courses are offered over two years (part-time) or inmodules, with the first year or first set of modules leading to a specialist qualification in the teaching and support of students with dyslexia. These are generally accredited by the BDA at Approved Teacher Status (ATS) or Approved Practitioner Status (APS). A qualification at this level enables you to apply for a Patoss Teaching Practising Certificate (TPC). It also means you can work as an NMH Specialist Tutor in Higher Education.  The second year, or part of the programme, builds on the first to provide a specialist qualification in the assessment of SpLD/dyslexia. These post-graduate courses are generally accredited at AMBDA level, and will enable you to gain an SpLD Assessment Practising Certificate (APC).  The SASC website contains useful information about course providers:   
You will need to contact course providers direct for course information including start dates and fees.

Assessment Practising Certificate holders are qualified to assess and diagnose students, including students who are progressing to or studying in Higher Education settings and who require a report to support an application for Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA). They can also carry out access arrangements assessments. 

Q. I am starting out as an independent tutor/assessor. Do you have any useful tips for becoming self-employed?

A. Becoming self-employed you need to consider: 

If you work as a freelance teacher or assessor you will need to take out a DBS Enhanced Disclosure. Please let us know if you would like to arrange this through Patoss. 

Freelance tutors and assessors need appropriate insurance (professional indemnity, plus public liability if you are working outside of a school or college, e.g. in your own home).  Patoss Professional Memberships have an insurance option. Please contact us if you would like information.

Data Protection and ICO registration
As an independent tuto/assessor you are likely to be storing confidential data on individuals in your own home. You will, therefore, need to register as a data handler. The Data Protection Act 1998 requires every organisation processing personal data to register with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). This can be done online or by telephone and further information can be found here:  It costs £35 per year to be on the register.

Self Assessment
From a business perspective, if you are going to be working on a self-employed basis, you will need to register for Self Assessment with HM Revenue & Customs as a sole trader. More information  can be found here:  
You will need to ensure that you keep careful records of all your expenses and outgoings and you may need to engage the services of an accountant or book keeper.  More details of other allowable expenses can be found on the self-assessment website: 

We suggest reports are not released to individuals until after payment has been received. Invoicing procedures should be clarified with client prior to work commencing.  

Charges should reflect all the additional costs a private Specialist Teacher/Assessor incurs, including those outlined above. There are so many variables it is very difficult to provide advice on appropriate charges.  These can, for example, depend on the skills and experience of the Specialist Teacher/Assessor; what other professionals are charging locally; whether the tuition takes place in a school or college, the student's home or the assessor's home and whether you are able to build a good working relationship with parents and schools and consequently a good reputation in your local area. 

Professional Considerations
It is also worth being mindful that in many areas schools and colleges no longer have access to specialists, e.g. County SpLD Teachers/Advisors or have the budget to buy this sort of expertise in.  Working with families who are not happy with the education system, often because their child's complex needs have not been recognised, is challenging and often requires expertise in the wider SpLDs and conditions such as autism.  It is therefore important to update your CPD regularly (and keep your eye on Patoss bulletins and our website, as well as the SASC website).   Ideally assessors will have access to other professionals/APC holders so they can discuss difficult cases.  Knowing when to refer on is crucial.    

Access Arrangements

Q. Could you send me a recommended list of tests to use for access arrangements for GCSE and GCE students.

A. The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) requires that assessors use up to date, nationally standardised, age-appropriate tests (see JCQ AARA 7.1.2). They do not publish a recommended list of tests for exam access arrangements, as there are many different options available.     

An access arrangements assessor will need a range of tests covering the areas that provide assessment evidence for each of the access arrangements for which evidence is required.

  • Assessment evidence for extra time includes:

    • Reading Speed (continuous text) – can include reading rate, reading fluency, and reading comprehension speed.

    Options include WIAT-III UK (up to 25.11), GORT5 (up to 23.11), YARC (up to 16.11), AAB Reading fluency subtest (up to 85.11).

    Please be aware that a measure of speed of reading can only be used when the candidate reads independently (i.e. without the use of a computer reader / reader or examination reading pen).


    • Writing speed – requires the candidate to write by hand and can include free writing, writing fluency, writing to dictation or a composite score for writing speed. Options include DASH or DASH 17+ Free Writing subtest (reported as a standard score) or Total Handwriting Speed composite.

    Please be aware that a measure of speed of writing can only be used when a candidate writes by hand.


    • Cognitive processing measures that impact on speed of working. For a list of different areas of cognitive processing see JCQ AARA 7.5.12.
      Options could include phonological processing (CTOPP2); short term/working memory (e.g. TOMAL2, WRAML2 ACI and WMI, TIPS); visual processing (e.g. SDMT); reading efficiency (TOWRE2). 


    Assessment evidence for a scribe includes:

    • Spelling – where spelling attempts are unrecognisable.
      Options include HAST2, AAB, WRAT5, WIAT-III
    • Writing speed

    Options as above.

    Note that, as evidence for a scribe, writing can also be analysed qualitatively for legibility and comprehensibility.


    Assessment evidence for a language modifier includes:

    • Reading comprehension – can include measures at text or sentence level.

    Options include AAB, DRA-3, FAR, GORT-5, WRAT5, WIAT-III

    • Vocabulary – can include tests of receptive and expressive vocabulary.

    Options include BPVS, WRIT.

    This could include phonological processing (CTOPP2); short term/working memory (e.g. TOMAL2 ACI, WRAML2 ACI and WMI, TIPS); visual processing (e.g. SDMT), reading efficiency (TOWRE2).

It is worth noting that there are numerous tests and processing measures to select from; those listed above are only a few of the available options.   

A more complete list can be found in the Patoss publication, ‘Assessing the need for Access Arrangements in Examinations: A Practical Guide 6th edition’ by Lia Castiglione (2021). This is available for purchase from the Patoss website:

Useful lists of STEC approved tests for pre- and post-16 age groups can be found here:

Pre-16 Test List 20 June 2021

Post 16 Test List June 2021 corNov 21 .

Assessors may use tests on these lists which provide assessment evidence in the relevant areas.

Q. Who can carry out assessments for access arrangements in JCQ examinations?

A. It is the responsibility of the Head of Centre to appoint assessors for his/her centre (see JCQ AARA 7.3). There are three categories of assessor, as follows:

    • an access arrangements assessor who has successfully completed a postgraduate course at or equivalent to Level 7, including at least 100 hours relating to individual specialist assessment;
    • a specialist assessor with a current SpLD Assessment Practising Certificate, as awarded by Patoss, Dyslexia Action or BDA and listed on the SASC website;
    • an appropriately qualified psychologist registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.

APC holders and HCPC registered psychologists may conduct assessments to be recorded within Part 2 of Form 8 and, where necessary, undertake full diagnostic assessments.

Access arrangements assessors may only carry out assessments to be recorded within Part 2 of Form 8.
Evidence of all assessors’ qualifications must be held on file within the centre and presented to the JCQ Centre Inspector by the SENCo. 


Q. The JCQ requires that access arrangements assessors complete ‘100 hours relating to individual assessment.’ What does this mean?

A. The reference to at least 100 hours relating to individual specialist assessment includes lecture, seminar and tutorial time, study time, assessment time and time spent completing assignments.

Courses accredited at AMBDA or APC Level would meet this requirement, as would post-graduate courses at or equivalent to Level 7 that provide a qualification in access arrangements assessment, such as the Patoss AAA: Assessing for Access Arrangements.

Details on the Patoss AAA can be found here: Link to AAA course information

Q. How do I train to become an access arrangements assessor?

A. Access arrangements assessors must have a relevant qualification in assessment (see JCQ AARA 7.3.4 for more details).  

The Patoss AAA course provides a qualification in assessing for access arrangements which meets the JCQ criteria for an access arrangements assessor. For more details, see Link to AAA course information
 Holders of a specialist teaching qualification and the Patoss AAA can progress to the Patoss/University of South Wales course to gain an APC. For further details, see  Link to Patoss/USW course

Alternatively, there are a number of training providers who offer a relevant postgraduate diploma in assessment, leading to an SpLD Assessment Practising Certificate (APC).  Assessors who successfully complete this level of qualification can undertake both exam access arrangements and full diagnostic assessments. Details of courses leading to an APC can be found on the SASC website:

Q. What is the final date for applications for access arrangements this year?

A. 31st March 2022.

Assessing Remotely for Access Arrangements

Q. Is there a list of tests that are available digitally?

A. Yes, SASC have produced a very comprehensive list with useful information about the format of each digital version and how to access it:

Q. What equipment do I need to carry out an assessment remotely? What equipment does my student need to carry out an assessment remotely?

A. There are various set-ups currently being used for remote assessment and the choice of equipment will depend largely on what you and your student have available. Pearson have produced some useful guidance on how a remote assessment can be set up for both the assessor and the student:

Q. Do the JCQ recognise remote assessments?

A. Yes, in their document ‘Important supplementary information for SENCos and assessors Academic year 2020/21  the JCQ have made clear that, where necessary, they will accept access arrangements carried out remotely.

Q. What should I do if only a parent is available to facilitate?

A. This is not ideal as the role of the facilitator requires impartiality as well as a knowledge of test administration. In this situation you should arrange a discussion with the parent before the assessment to explain clearly what their role is, that they must only follow your instructions and not interfere with the assessment in any way. During the administration of each test they should sit behind the candidate clearly in view of the camera.

Q. Is there someone I can talk to who is experienced in remote assessment?

A. Communicate-ed are running a mentoring scheme where you can spend time with an experienced assessor, please email for more information

Q. If I administer tests remotely do I need to note this on Form 8 Part 2? If so, where could I do this?

A. We suggest that you note this in the ‘Other Relevant Information’ section of Part 2 of Form 8

Q. What happens if the internet connection is poor?

A. It is important to carry out a check in advance of the assessment, perhaps with the facilitator, to make sure that the internet speed at both the assessor’s and the candidate’s location is sufficient for carrying out timed assessments. If it is not, they you cannot reliably carry out the assessment and should find an alternative location or method of assessment. It is worth ensuring that no-one else is using the household internet if you need to stabilise the connection

Q. A school insists that the assessment session is recorded in line with school policy and procedures- what can I do?

A. Whilst there may appear to be some positive reasons for recording the assessment, there are also important reasons why this should not take place. The main obstacle is the fact that most test publishers will not give permission to record with their stimulus materials on the screen, and to keep stopping and starting the video will make for a very disjointed assessment. Hopefully when the school you are working in understands the issue of publisher copyright they will realise that it is not practical to record the assessment.

Q. If the student is shielding at home, what happens if they do not have a device with a sufficient screen size?

A. It is important that the candidate is able to access the stimulus materials for tests as clearly as they would if viewing paper materials. If it is not possible to arrange for the candidate to have access to at least a 15 inch screen (measured diagonally) you might consider sending original booklets and cards (e.g. the CTOPP2 stimulus booklet for the Rapid Naming subtests). The assessor must ensure that test confidentiality and security are maintained. This does also increase the responsibility on the facilitator as they need to ensure that the booklets are produced at the right time and not seen by the candidate in advance of the assessment. You will need to think through whether you can cover all the areas you need to by sending the original stimulus materials to the candidate in advance of the assessment.

Q. Where can I purchase a visualiser? Do you have any recommendations?

A. A smart phone or tablet can be used in place of a visualiser. We have experience of the Hue HD Pro and have found it to be very easy to use.

Q. Is it acceptable to give the candidate control of the screen where appropriate for the purposes of test administration, for example in the administration of reading tasks?

A. Depending on the size of the candidate's screen, there may be occasions when some scrolling is required. For example the TOWRE2 reading card won't fit unless the screen size is at least A4 portrait (the digital version is the same as the card). This is acceptable.

Q. As the TOMAL 2 Manual Imitation subtest cannot be administered remotely, is it acceptable to prorate the ACI?

A. The JCQ will accept a subtest score as evidence for extra time, so while it is good practice to calculate an index or composite score it is not essential in this situation. Where you cannot administer the Manual Imitation subtest (for example in a remote assessment) you could use one or two of the other ACI subtests, or you could prorate the ACI. Please refer to pages 58- 59 of the manual for information on how to do that.


Assessment Practising Certificate APC

Q. Do you have any documents to help me with my APC renewal?

A. The SpLD Assessment Standards Committee (SASC) provides clear guidance as to the criteria applied in the review of diagnostic reports in support of renewal of Assessment Practising Certificates. This can be found on the SASC website:  

In addition, Patoss provides a range of guidance documents exclusively for members, which will be helpful for assessment report writing. These resources can be found within the member’s area of the website and are accessible when you log-in to your account.  

Data Protection - GDPR

Q. I have a lot of questions about the General Data Protection Regulations [GDPR]. Do you have any information?

We have produced a number of documents and FAQs around the new General Data Protection Regulations [GDPR] which can be found on this page: GDPR FAQs. These are available to members only.


Q. What can you tell me about  Professional Indemnity insurance through Patoss?

We have a whole page devoted to questions around insurance. Please visit  our Insurance page.