Use of a scribe in the English exam

When a student is allocated a scribe for their GCSE exams the following information needs to be taken into account by parents.  Firstly, the decision has been made on the basis of staff recommendations, normal ways of work and the outcome of tests of free writing speed and content.  The conclusion that was reached is that your child would not be able to show his/her true ability without the use of a scribe.

However, the English language paper is split in to two parts; reading and writing.  In the writing part of the exam there are 16 marks available for the correct use of grammar, punctuation and spelling.  There are an additional 24 marks available for the content of what they have written.  To access as many of the 24 marks available as possible, the use of a scribe could be very beneficial.  However, please be aware that to access the 5 marks available for punctuation your child must indicate where the punctuation should go to their scribe.  For example, they would need to say “The writer has used imagery to allow the reader to imagine that they are at the train station full stop” when they wanted the scribe to put a full stop at the end of the sentence.  When using a scribe, your child would not be entitled to the 5 marks for spelling.

You may therefore decide to reject the offer of a scribe.

Access Arrangements Regulations

Guidance and regulations on the assessment and allocation of Access Arrangements (AA) is provided by the Joint Council of Qualifications (JCQ).

Access Arrangements are agreed in the summer term of Year 9 through an application to JCQ by the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO).  Access Arrangements allow candidates with special educational needs, disabilities or temporary injuries to access the assessment and show what they know and can do without changing the demands of the assessment or giving them an advantage over other students.  Access arrangements are the principal way in which awarding bodies comply with the duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make ‘reasonable adjustments’.

To support an application to JCQ for access arrangements (other than a temporary injury) the SENCO must be able to provide evidence of:

  • persistent and significant difficulties
  • substantial and long term adverse impact in school
  • a pupil’s normal way of working

The process for collecting evidence

Evidence collection begins in Year 6 at the time of transition when evidence of need and support is provided by primary schools.  Throughout Year 7 to 9, staff at St. Crispin’s send evidence of continuing need and support to the SENCO to build the picture of need required by JCQ.  New referrals are made by staff where they feel a need has developed and additional support is provided to demonstrate a normal way of working.  Parents can also make the SENCO aware of a new difficulty and request assessment for access arrangements.

Assessing the need for Access Arrangements

The SENCO and Deputy SENCO hold a Level 7 Certificate in Psychometric Testing, Assessment and Access Arrangements (CPT3A) including 100 hours related to individual specialist assessment which qualifies them to assess pupils using standardised tests that are approved by JCQ to provide standard scores.  The average score for these tests is 85-115.  To be eligible for access arrangement below average scores (84 and below) are needed.  In line with JCQ regulations, privately commissioned assessments carried out without prior consultation with the SENCO cannot be used to award access arrangements or process an application.  Furthermore, if the standardised tests used in the private assessment are the same as that used by the SENCO/Deputy SENCO to assess needs, she will be unable to use the same tests for one calendar year which will result in a delay in assessment of the eligibility of access arrangements.

Where there is a medical need or diagnosed disability (as described by the Equality Act 2010), evidence is sought from relevant healthcare professionals, e.g. Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), hospital consultant, sensory impairment service, Speech and Language Therapist (SaLT) or local authority special educational needs department.

The following access arrangements can be considered by the SENCO where sufficient evidence is available:

  • supervised rest breaks
  • extra time
  • a reader
  • exam reading pen
  • a scribe
  • a word processor
  • a prompter
  • a practical assistant
  • coloured overlays
  • coloured/enlarged papers
  • modified language papers
  • a live speaker
  • braille paper
  • colour identification

Each application is considered by JCQ for each subject individually in light of the pupil’s needs.

If a candidate does not make use of the arrangement granted to them in Year 9 and/or 10, then it is not his/her normal way of working and the SENCO will withdraw the arrangement for Year 11.

Should you have any questions about access arrangements, please contact