Introduction

The Learning Support Department provides assistance to all members of the school community, whether through individual advice and one-to-one help, group or whole class support, advice to teaching and support staff or testing students to facilitate exam access arrangements. Some students arrive with diagnosed difficulties while others may be identified while at Bloomfield Collegiate though a process of screening and careful observation by our teachers. We pride ourselves on having an open door policy, and mentor many students throughout the school to achieve their potential.

Our current provision includes:

  • Year 8 Accelerated Reader programme
  • Summer Term small group literacy support
  • Friendship groups within classes
  • Parental advice on medical issues such as ADHD, Autism and Mental Health
  • Parental advice on GCSE subject choices
  • Training on ReadWriteGold reading software
  • Referral to Educational Psychologist
  • Testing for Access Arrangements
  • Counselling Service

What to do if you are worried that your child may have Special Educational Needs (SEN):

Children do not all learn at the same rate or pace. Some may have difficulties with aspects of their learning from time to time but most children with learning difficulties do not have special educational needs. If you are worried about your child’s progress, contact the form tutor who will discuss how your child is getting on in school and, if needed, will address any concerns you may have. The teacher will also advise you on how you can help your child at home.

If, after a period of observation, the teacher thinks that additional provision in school is needed for your child, they will contact you to discuss this.

Please be assured that we have clear processes for identifying and assessing children with Special Educational Needs. Staff will strive to ensure that your child’s needs are fully met, whether they have learning difficulties or SEN.

Examination Access Arrangements

The JCQ is a membership organisation comprising the seven largest providers of qualifications in the UK. The JCQ provides a single voice on issues of examination administration and, when appropriate, qualification and wider education policy. These regulations for schools can be accessed on the JCQ website.

What are Examination Access Arrangements?

An Examination Access Arrangement is a provision or type of support given to a student (subject to examination board approval) in an examination, where a particular need has been identified.

They allow candidates with special educational needs, disabilities or temporary injuries to show what they know and can do without changing the demands of the assessment.

This can be in the form of:

  • Extra time: students may be entitled to an allowance of 25% (or more in exceptional circumstances) depending on the history of evidence of need and the recommendation of the designated Specialist Teacher.
  • A reader: a trained adult who would read the question and any relevant text (with the exception of the ‘Reading Section’ of an English GCSE Exam) for the student. The student would write the answers themselves but can ask for them to be read back to them.
  • A scribe: a trained adult who writes for the student. The student would dictate their answers, or may type on a computer themselves with the spelling and grammar check off.
  • Word processor: for exceptional reasons, a student may be given access to a computer for an examination so they can word process their answers (without the spell and grammar check facility). This cannot be because a student types faster than they write or because they prefer it, but must be to account for significant disadvantage.
  • Rest breaks: where students are permitted to stop for short break/s during the examination and the time stopped is added to the finish time, with the effect of elongating the examination but not actually using any extra time.
  • Prompter: where a student has little sense of time or loses concentration easily, a trained adult can prompt them with a few permitted phrases to refocus, move the student on to the next question or indicate how much time is left.

Important Information

There are a number of pieces of evidence that are needed to apply for Access Arrangements to Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ):

  • A report from the Specialist Teacher (Mrs Waterworth) which notes:
  • Evidence of persistent and significant difficulties, which would usually have been identified in Primary school and/or during Key Stage 3;
  • Evidence from teachers that this difficulty impacts on teaching and learning in the classroom;
  • Evidence that the Access Arrangement is the student’s normal way of working in school, i.e. that they routinely take more time to complete work, or always need a scribe to complete written work.
  • Educational assessments and tests e.g. reading speed, reading comprehension, writing tests. These are conducted by Mrs Waterworth as the School’s Specialist Teacher. JCQ states that ‘significant difficulties’ are those which place a student in the bottom 14% of the population, and it should be noted that it is not necessary to have a diagnosis, nor does a diagnosis guarantee Access Arrangements if the student scores above this criterion.
  • If Medical issues are the difficulty (and this includes ADHD and ASD) then a letter from a Consultant or a Clinical Psychologist stating the need for extra time is required.

A growing number of parents are having their children assessed by Private Educational Psychologists and submitting the reports to Learning Support as evidence that their child should be awarded Access Arrangements.

Often Private Educational Psychologists recommend that children should receive Access Arrangements which can be in conflict with what the centre tester (Specialist Teacher) recommends. The school will not accept the recommendations of a Private Educational Psychologist reports, but will instead follow the recommendations of the Specialist Teacher as required by JCQ regulations.

JCQ regulations state that ‘a privately commissioned assessment carried out without prior consultation with the centre cannot be used to award Access Arrangements and cannot be used to process an application’

Private reports should only be requested in consultation with Mrs Waterworth. They can be helpful in the case of concerns which cannot be identified by school testing, or if a diagnosis is required. If this is the case, Mrs Waterworth will speak to the Psychologist before the consultation in order to complete the report on the student’s background, provide the evidence from teachers and the student’s normal way of working in school.

Reports and PLPs from Primary school are very useful to give evidence of the persistent nature of the difficulty however, it should be noted that even if a student received Access Arrangements for the Transfer test, this does not guarantee that they will receive it at GCSE or A level because their needs may have changed. For example, a student who had Extra Time in the Transfer Test may not qualify for Extra Time at GCSE because their speed of working has improved to the extent it does not meet the examination board criteria.

All students in Year 8 are tested at the start of the year. We use computerised Cognitive Ability Tests to baseline general ability, and Progress Test in English/ Progress Test in Maths to look at attainment in these two core pillars of education. These tests are primarily to look at progress though school but can also help identify learning difficulties. Learning Support will use this information to put appropriate interventions into place.

JCQ states that “if a candidate can complete a paper in the normal length of time, and never uses the extra time which has been made available, then it is not an effective time management. It would not be appropriate to process an application for extra time. We pay close attention to the use of Extra Time during internal examinations and to comply with JCQ regulations, will not process applications where there is no evidence of need in past examinations.

Parents can contact the Tutor to ask for advice if they have concerns with the progress and learning of their child. Once contact has been made with the parent, the Tutor will investigate their concerns by sending a “round robin” to the child’s teachers to gain information. Following this, a decision will be made as to whether it is appropriate to test a student.

Teachers can refer a student to Learning Support where they have concerns about the learning and progress of a student in their class. All of the student’s current teachers will be asked to give feedback to gain information, and following this a decision will be made as to whether to test a student.

Once the decision to test has been made, the student will attend Learning Support to meet with the Specialist Teacher. They usually complete a self-evaluation form and the appropriate Psychometric tests are selected.

If the nature of the difficulty is proven ‘significantand meets the strict criteria, and if the Specialist Teacher can confirm the persistent nature of the problem,

the student’s normal way of working and the evidence from teachers, then an application to JCQ can be made. The student must sign a Data Protection Notice to give consent for some of their personal data to be shared with JCQ and the Examination awarding bodies.

Teaching and support staff can access an ‘Access Arrangements List’ on the school network. It is updated whenever students become entitled to it. The information about results of assessments for Access Arrangements are kept confidentially in line with school policy and are shared on a ‘need to know’ basis.

Students with Access Arrangements are encouraged to use their Access Arrangements during internal assessments and examinations so that they gain practice at using them effectively.

Students who have access to a reader or scribe are shown how to use them appropriately in examination situations, and it is explained to them what they can and can’t do with the reader/scribe during the examination, and how much support the adult is allowed to give.

All teachers are given access to the list of students with Access Arrangements, and they are asked to give Learning Support notice before they do tests or controlled assessments so that support can be provided for students who require it during the tests/assessments. Students who have a reader can be supported by the teacher supervising the test or may have individual support if necessary. Learning Support can provide a separate room, reader, access to ICT and a scribe with the required amount of notice.

Students with Access Arrangements are monitored regularly through the use of data from Tracking Assessments and examination results.

At Bloomfield Collegiate School, we believe that every pupil should be encouraged to fulfil her academic potential. Having consulted with parents, pupils, staff and governors, we launched a programme of enrichment for pupils who have been identified as having very special academic potential together with a love of learning. We began this scheme in May 2015 with a small group of Year 11 pupils and we will be extending the programme to other year groups, and to other pupils, over time.  The pupils in our Gifted and Talented programme will all be working to meet their individual targets and we look forward to watching their development as academics and as very able young women.

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