Guidance for Employers, Teachers

Assessing for Special Arrangements - Guidance for Teachers & Employers

As a professional association, Patoss has drawn up the following recommendations to give guidance to teachers and the institutions employing them in providing assessment reports for special examination arrangements for GCSE and GCE examinations.

It is important that teachers performing this role satisfy themselves that their skills are updated and they have appropriate secondary school experience. Assessors without QTS must ensure that with regard to fulfilling this particular role, their qualifications are sufficient. It is not enough to have the RSA Diploma, or similar. Within the compulsory education phase, assessors must have QTS. The Joint Council for Qualifications (JSQ) no longer updates its list of suitable qualifications and state that the Heads of Centre should determine the suitability of staff.  The Rose Review (2009) has endorsed the SpLD Assessment Practising Certificate (APC) as a useful quality standard for schools in this regard.  In the FE sector, the Joint Forum are aware that there are various routes into learning support work at this level, but they do expect report writers to have Qualified Teacher Status "or similar".

All awarding bodies are now obliged to provide further training on the specific skills. Management should support specialist teachers in their continuing professional development so that their skills and knowledge with regard to assessment meet the criteria outlined in the JCQ booklet Regulations and Guidance – Access Arrangements, Reasonable Adjustment and Special Consideration which is revised and published every academic year. In addition Patoss published, in conjunction with the Joint Council Dyslexia, Assessing the Need for Access Arrangements, ed A Jones, which is now in its 4th edition. [Available from Patoss, can be ordered from the Patoss website]

Patoss joins teachers and the QCA in their concern that the time required for assessment and writing reports not be under-estimated. Managers should be aware that taking on the role involves significant non-contact time and may require additional resources for assessment. Total time required per pupil is estimated to be 4 hours. Time needed to collect & collate background information required by exam boards / score assessment results / write report / associated administration - in total - 2 hours per candidate. Time needed to carry out assessments 'face to face'. Again 2 hours per person on average. This might be reduced considerably by group testing, where appropriate. It has been suggested, however, that in the FE sector an additional hour should be anticipated to review the results with students who need considerable support when first diagnosed.

Appropriate tests, as noted in Dyslexia: Assessing the need for Access Arrangements during Examinations - A Practical Guide 4th Edition (2011), should be provided by management. Exam boards have been known to reject reports based on tests with inappropriate age ranges.

It is important to note that the number of students now being seen has greatly expanded with the inclusion of those with MLD (Moderate Learning Difficulties) among those considered for special examination arrangements. These are placing increased workloads on SENCos and others involved in assessment, and either time or additional personnel must be found to accommodate this increase. Schools are increasingly aware of the need to have special arrangements in place for all school exams, not just GCSE and GCE final exams.

Since the exam boards require evidence that the school/college has made special arrangements for the candidates during the course leading up to the exams, the necessity for early identification - i.e. before exam courses have started - is paramount. This suggests the use of screening procedures to identify pupils who might be eligible - perhaps with a short individual follow-up. Planning/administration /marking time will be significant. A possible solution would be to invest the SENCo time in thorough screening at the Year 7 intake stage.

Management should be aware that the responsibility for provision of special arrangements during examinations rests with the head of centre (i.e. the Head Teacher/Principal) - not with the individual teacher doing the assessments. Approval as an examination centre could in theory be withdrawn if procedures are not carried out correctly and so it is vital that there is appropriate provision for staff to do the job properly.

Self-employed teachers, offering this service to exam centres/candidates should reflect not only the time/training/expertise required but also costs of resources/phone/travel, insurance, etc. A suggested scale, based on £35/hour, might be:
Assessment/report where previously seen by EP - £140
Assessment/report completely from scratch, including expenses - £250 upwards

It is the job of management in the independent sector to decide whether the school/college will bear the costs of these assessments or bill parents. When Educational Psychologists performed the function this cost was routinely passed on to parents. SEN Services are performing a similar service, albeit in-house.

Management MUST ensure their teachers are properly insured as assessors against all possible claims in connection with assessment reports / special arrangements. This includes professional indemnity as well as insurance covering legal costs. Teachers are advised to have this in writing from their employers.

For those working independently professional indemnity as well as insurance covering public liability are essential and insurance options are available to Patoss members, further advice provided by Patoss.

The role of assessor is a specialist activity. The rates of pay for teachers performing this function should reflect this expertise, and should take into consideration the non-contact element of the work involved.


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