Reasonable Adjustment and Special Considerations Policy

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Definition of reasonable adjustments:

A reasonable adjustment is any action that helps to reduce the effect of a disability or difficulty that places the learner at a substantial disadvantage in the assessment situation. It is made to an assessment for a qualification to enable a disadvantaged learner to demonstrate his or her knowledge, skills and understanding of the levels of attainment required by the specification for that qualification.

Reasonable adjustments must not affect the integrity of what needs to be assessed, but may involve:

  • changing usual assessment arrangements, for example allowing a learner extra time to complete the assessment activity
  • adapting assessment materials, such as providing materials in Braille
  • providing assistance during assessment, such as a sign language interpreter or a reader
  • re-organising the assessment room, such as removing visual stimuli for an autistic learner
  • changing the assessment method, for example from a written assessment to a spoken assessment
  • using assistive technology, such as screen reading or voice activated software
  • providing the mechanism to have different colour backgrounds to screens for onscreen assessments or asking for permission for copying to different coloured paper for paper-based assessments
  • providing and allowing different coloured transparencies with which to view assessment papers

Reasonable adjustments are approved or set in place before the assessment activity takes place; they constitute an arrangement to give the learner access to the programme. The use of a reasonable adjustment will not be taken into consideration during the assessment of a learner’s work.

BCS and centres are only required by law to do what is ‘reasonable’ in terms of giving access. What is reasonable will depend on the individual circumstances, cost implications and the practicality and effectiveness of the adjustment. Other factors, such as the need to maintain competence standards and health and safety, will also be taken into consideration.

Definition of special considerations:

Special consideration can be applied after an assessment if there was a reason the learner may have been disadvantaged during the assessment.

For example, special consideration could apply to a learner who has temporarily experienced:

  • an illness or injury
  • some other event outside of their control

And which has had, or is likely to have had, a material effect on that learner’s ability to take an assessment or demonstrate his or her level of attainment in an assessment.

Special consideration should not give the learner an unfair advantage, nor should its use cause the user of the certificate to be misled regarding a learner’s achievements. The learner’s result must reflect his / her achievement in the assessment and not necessarily his / her potential ability.

Special consideration, if successful, may result in a small post-assessment adjustment to the mark of the learner. The size of the adjustment will depend on the circumstances and reflect the difficulty faced by the learner.

Centres should note that:

  • where an assessment requires the learner to demonstrate practical competence or where criteria have to be met fully, or in the case of qualifications that confer a License to Practice, it may not be possible to apply special consideration.
  • in some circumstances, for example for on-demand assessments, it may be more appropriate to offer the learner an opportunity to take the assessment at a later date.

Principles of making reasonable adjustments

These principles should be followed when making decisions about a learner’s need for adjustments to assessment:

  • should not invalidate the assessment requirements of the qualification
  • should not give the learners an unfair advantage
  • should reflect the learner’s normal way of working
  • should be based on the individual need of the learner