DYT have written about access arrangements before in relation to what might be available to a dyslexic learner, how students are identified, and what parents can do to support the process.

Having recently attended the Communicate-ed‘update/refresher for access arrangements͛ course led by Caroline Read, (a highly experienced Specialist Teacher and a member of the working party that set up ‘access arrangements online‘) I have set out below the highlights and included a link to my review of the specific regulation changes this year. During the session, Caroline expertly explained recent changes and it was also useful to browse new assessments and technology on the market.

Statutory guidance

Each year the JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications) revises the statutory guidance on adjustments for candidates with disabilities and learning difficulties, access arrangements and reasonable adjustments’ (which can be downloaded here) to reflect changing practices and new technology and to ensure stringent processes are in place to monitor the integrity and equality of access arrangements.

Specialist Assessors and CPD

For specialist assessors, a refresher course is a must. Not only will you gain five hours CPD towards maintaining specialist assessor status (and your assessment practising certificate if applicable) but you will also gain an insight into the rationale and implications of recent changes to the regulations.
There were several key messages from the training:
  • A reminder that the purpose of access arrangements is to level the playing field, not to give candidates an unfair advantage. Schools must ensure that arrangements are justified to create equality of opportunity.


  • The number of applications each year is rising, demonstrating that schools are now more aware of the importance of using access arrangements to secure good educational outcomes for candidates.


  • Scrutiny of access arrangements’ applications and procedures is becoming increasingly rigorous. The number of inspectors is growing and schools can expect a knock on their door any time after the new February deadline.


Usual practice

It is worth remembering that you need to consider access arrangements for learners throughout their school life, giving them a level playing field, especially in tests and exams that lead to setting. They need to be able to show you what they know, not just how well they can read and write. This practice will ensure that you have the necessary evidence of their ‘usual way of working’ that is referred to in the regulations.

Key changes 2016-17

The majority of the session concentrated on the key changes for 2016-17. For a summary of these changes, please read our ‘Access Arrangements Regulations: Changes for 2016-17’͛ document which can be accessed here.

Deadlines 2016-17

Access arrangements applications must be made by the following dates:
  • November 2016 series
Modified papers: 20 September 2016
All other arrangements: 4 October 2016
  • January 2017 series
Modified papers: 4 October 2016
All other arrangements: 21 October 2016
  • May/June 2017 series
Modified papers: 31 January 2017
All other arrangements: 21 February 2017
Remember, if you are making an application directly to an awarding body then you must allow time for this to be processed before the deadline.


 You may find some of our other free DfL resources helpful which include proformas and guidance on good practice for access arrangements. You can access these resources here
Communciate-ed also offer some helpful resources at reasonable prices, including test information on suitable assessments to use when completing part C of Form 8 for Access Arrangements, guidance for candidates and informal assessment resources.  These can be purchased at communicate-ed’s online shop at this address: www.communicate-ed.org.uk/shop