Doing exams

If your child is due to take exams, the school's examinations officer should be able to make special arrangements to help them.

Applying to the exam board

The Joint Council for Qualifications (JQC) says: 'The duty for an awarding body to make a reasonable adjustment will apply where assessment arrangements would put a disabled candidate at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with a candidate who is not disabled.'

This means that if your child has cancer it can be regarded as a disability and may be given special arrangements for exams. This won't automatically be the case, but the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (Senco) and the exams officer at the school will be able to discuss it with you and make the applications if appropriate.

Enabling your child to take exams

Changes to arrangements for exams are made to ensure fair access to assessments. These shouldn't give your child an advantage, just enable them to take the exam. The JCQ is very strict about this and applications need to be made well in advance of exams.

You will need medical evidence, such as a letter from your child's consultant explaining their situation. Your CLIC Sargent Social Worker, hospital teacher or outreach nurse can arrange this for you.

Changes to arrangements might include:

  • Extra time to complete the exam
  • Someone to read or write for them
  • Use of a laptop
  • Taking the exam in hospital, at home or in a separate room at school
  • Supervised rest breaks if your child has fatigue or other side effects of treatment.
If your child has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan, it cannot be used in its own right to award access arrangements for GCSE and GCE exams. However, the Senco or learning support officer may be able to supplement the EHC plan with evidence confirming a suitable way of working for your child and that the arrangements are fully supported by the teaching staff.

Special consideration and grade adjustment

Your child may also be able to receive 'special consideration'. This is a grade adjustment after an exam to reflect an illness or 'indisposition' at the time of the exam eg if a candidate was having chemotherapy on the day of the exam or immediately before it.

The examinations officer at your child's school should be fully aware of this and can apply to the exam board. Medical evidence will need to be written by the hospital consultant. The school will use this to support their application for special consideration.

"Having lost a year at school, she did really well in her GCSEs considering all that she's been through."

Where next?

Updated January 2017, next review due December 2017.