SASC Issues Updated Assessment Guidance for Disabled Student Allowances

Assessment Matters:

SASC Issues Updated Assessment Guidance for Disabled Student Allowances

Updated Guidance supporting the Diagnostic Assessment Report ProForma and Criteria for Reviewing Assessments.

SASC issues updated guidance on the Report ProForma and Review Criteria for Assessor Reports


In order to bring practice up to date, following a review and recommendations of assessor bodies, SASC has updated the guidance on our report proforma and the criteria for reviewing assessor reports. Revised guidance on both these areas [issued 19 October 2015] is downloadable from the SASC website and the Patoss website - on our Professional Certificates page


Updated Test List:

The list of suitable tests for the assessment of specific learning difficulties (SpLD) in Higher Education is a key part of the National Assessment Framework for Applications for Disabled Students' Allowances. The purpose of the list is to promote quality and consistency in the Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) process.

STEC [SpLD Test Evaluation Committee] serves to review this list periodically and consider new tests for inclusion. The latest updated guidelines, December 2014, in support of assessing for DSAs are now listed on the SASC website. Links to this updated guidance are also on the Patoss website (SpLD Testing and Assessment Guidance Dec 2014).

ADHD Guidance:

Following the ADHD Consensus meeting in May 2014 and continuing consultation over the summer with a range of interested parties SASC has issued guidance relating to the assessment of ADHD in relation to Disabled Students’ Allowances. This guidance is accessible from our website and the SASC website under SpLD Assessment Tools.

Dyspraxia Guidance:

Please note, in addition the Dyspraxia guidance has been updated. This accessible from our website and the SASC website under SpLD Assessment Tools.

Please circulate this information to your colleagues. 

Preparing for exams in digital format

Preparing for exams in digital format – guidance for centres and for candidates – new guidance launched

Now that awarding bodies are expected to provide exam papers in digital formats to  learners with print impairments there are potential benefits for both print impaired learners and the learning provider themselves. However exam papers in digital format do not automatically bring benefits unless the learner knows how to make the most of the accessibility opportunities they provide.

Jisc has a recent blog post on how to “Take advantage of digital exam formats for print-impaired learners” with links to specific guides for learners and for learning providers on how to make the most of the opportunities.               This could be timely if you have students who have applied to take their exams in digital format this year or those who are thinking about it for next year.

Summary of links:

Blog post -
Guidance for candidates -
Guidance for learners -


Comments sought on DSA Draft Guidance

January 2015

Student Loans Company have extended the date to receive comments to 20 February. Comments should be sent to

The attached draft guidance sets out the background and scope of DSA and also includes guidance on how the Secretary of State proposes to exercise his discretion to pay DSA. The main changes that are proposed to take effect in 2015/16 and which are reflected in the guidance concern the payment of DSA in respect of accommodation and additional items, such as consumables and peripherals. The introduction of the £200 student contribution towards the cost of a computer provided through DSA has already been introduced for 2015/16 in the new amendment regulations. BIS is seeking the views of stakeholders on the draft guidance and further equality analysis on the proposed changes is ongoing. 

Issues on which comments would be particularly welcome include:

  • providing suggestions on the content of the draft guidance;
  • information on problems that might arise from the implementation of the draft guidance in its current proposed form;
  • further exceptions to the general position outlined in the guidance for BIS to consider;
  • case studies for inclusion in the guidance document;
  • areas where further clarification of the guidance is needed; and
  • any comments more generally on the guidance.

The Secretary of State will take into account the views of stakeholders and the equality analysis that is being conducted before any decision to issue formal guidance for 2015/2016 is taken.

Access the draft guidance here:'-allowances/dsas-updates-for-practitioners.aspx

Do you provide specialist support to students in Higher Education?

A new centralised database is being created that needs assessors will use in their Needs Assessment Recommendations for Support.

DSA -QAG have been asked by BIS to standardise information on non-medical help [NMH] providers used by Needs Assessors In locating qualified providers of NMH support. There are currently two NMH databases in operation, the NNAC wiki and the CLASS system which you may be familiar with. The sector has requested DSA-QAG centralise these two databases into a single system. DSA-QAG’s objective is to provide DSA needs assessors with accurate and up to date information for NMH providers who offer services to DSA students.

The NMH database has been developed and DSA QAG is now seeking your assistance with the collection exercise. They want to ensure that the database displays the most up to date information for you [if you are an independent provider] or your organisation.

Via the DSA QAG website, the NMH search functionality will link to your details direct from the NMH database.

This database is scheduled to ‘go live’ in December this year so information must be received by 30 November 2014. DSA-QAG will upload the template on your behalf via the DSA-QAG website. You will need to keep DSA-QAG informed of any rate changes; this will ensure that accurate information is available for your organisation or the service you provide under NMH.

If you work in this area please complete the NMH template [download] and return to

BIS releases updates on DSA for 2015-16

Students with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs), including dyslexia                                                 October 2014

Students with dyslexia will still be eligible to apply for and receive DSA funding.  A comprehensive assessment of their needs will be undertaken, as now.  The assessment of the complexity of individual need is the key to determining what sort of support students require and whether they receive this through DSAs, HEI reasonable adjustments or a mix of both.  Where that division lies will be published in guidance.  DSA study needs assessors will have regard to the guidance when making their recommendations for support.

Following the ministerial announcement on 12 September and the subsequent regulations on 16 October a number of changes to Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) are being made for 2015/16. 

To explain these changes in more detail 15/16 DSA draft guidance has been created. The guidance sets out the background and scope for DSA funding for 2015/16.  You can view the new draft guidance at

BIS has released the Equality Analysis. View it here:

The Policy Update release statement can be read here:

Policy updates to DSA for 2015/16 entry Announcement

And new resources to use with students preparing for 2015/16

Announcing new guidance to support implementing the SEND reforms

This useful guidance is relevant to all those working with the SEN reforms has a specific reference to children and young people with literacy difficulties, specific learning difficulties and dyslexia.

The guidance will help Schools and Local Authorities to:

  • Deliver a comprehensive Local Offer to those children and young people with literacy difficulties, specific learning difficulties and dyslexia
  • Review existing resources and materials which can support their graduated response
  • Signpost to existing resources and training materials to enrich professionals’ understanding and develop their skills in universal and targeted provision
  • Select good practice to support all pupils experiencing literacy difficulties in schools and colleges.

Included and available to download are: A comprehensive online guide including case studies and examples of good practice; a series of individual support resources by a range of providers; and links to training materials which local authorities and schools can use to support their practice.


To find out more information, please go to the Dyslexia-SpLD Trust website Resources for LAs and Schools to access the guide. 

Or for more information contact: Tel: 01344 381 564; Email:

Patoss is a founding member and strong supporter of the Dyslexia-SpLD Trust.


Dyslexia by any other name

In response to the recent publication 'The Dyslexia Debate' by Professors Elliot and Grigorenko, which challenges the need for the term dyslexia, Dr John Rack and Sir Jim Rose detail in a letter why they believe the term dyslexia needs to stay. This letter is supported by all members of The Dyslexia-SpLD Trust.

'Not all children who struggle to decode text are the same. They have in common that they struggle with decoding, but they are different in important ways.'

To read the full letter, please click on this link.

The fish in the tree: Why we are failing children with dyslexia.

The Driver Youth Trust, a charity dedicated to improving the life chances of children and young people with literacy problems, commissioned this report to understand why this failure was continuing. The study found that while teachers overwhelmingly thought it important they received training to help teach children with dyslexia, over half revealed they had received no specific training at all. For nine out of ten teachers surveyed, initial training on dyslexia amounted to less than half a day.

Yet giving teachers the skills to help those with dyslexia would benefit all children. Teachers are given a clearer understanding of the process of learning to read and write, and the techniques to support learning right across the classroom. This report sets out a series of measures which would help tackle the gaps in training and provision. They include providing training for all teachers on special educational needs including dyslexia and ensuring that local authorities identify and support children with the disability from the earliest possible opportunity.

Putting them in place would have not just a life-long impact on individual lives, but also on the strength of our economy and society. When three children in every classroom have dyslexia, we cannot afford to wait any longer for action.

You can download a copy of the report here.

Important Information on Professional Skills Tests for Trainee Teachers

This information should be shared with any who are in contact with potential trainee teachers.

The specific changes for those entering the teaching profession are:

  • ♦ The tests became pre-entry tests for initial teacher training (ITT), to be taken once a candidate has submitted an application for an ITT course. Candidates must have passed the tests before starting an ITT course.
  • ♦ The pass mark for the skills tests has been raised. This applies to the tests taken by all candidates, including those already on courses.
  • ♦ The number of resits allowed has been limited to two per subject for all candidates.
  • ♦ Candidates receive their first attempt at each test free of charge but will be charged for resits.
  • ♦ Candidates who fail after two resits in either numeracy or literacy are not able to book any more skills tests for 24 months from the date of the second resit. 


See our Information Sheet for more information.