Why the move to linear exams may be particularly bad news for vulnerable students – and what you should be doing to help them.
The move away from modular exams is going to be particularly difficult for students with disabilities or learning difficulties and for students who suffer health problems or other misfortunes at the time of assessment.
The modular approach meant that if there was a problem at the time of a particular assessment there was usually an opportunity in a subsequent exam series to put things right.
The reintroduction of one- hit linear exams brings an end to what was a real lifeline for some of our most vulnerable students.
Getting things right first time
Ensuring that potentially disadvantaged students get every opportunity to show what they can achieve is not just a matter of getting the teaching and learning right. It is also essential to make sure that you gain the maximum legitimate advantage from all of the provisions the exam system offers for students with difficulties.
- Access Arrangements: If you have students with disabilities or learning difficulties the Joint Council for Qualifications have made provision for a variety of Arrangements which enable support to be given to students without compromising the integrity of the qualification. It is important to remember that some students with disabilities will be covered by the equality act and will have a right to what the act refers to as “reasonable adjustments”.
- Special Consideration: If you have students who are unwell, or suffer other misfortune, at the time of an exam, particularly bearing in mind that this may be their one and only shot at it, it may be appropriate for you to apply for special consideration. If a student misses an exam component it may be possible for the awarding body to calculate a mark for the missed component. Where a student is present for an exam but is disadvantaged the awarding body can add up to 5% of the total raw mark to compensate.
After the exams
- Re-marks: If you have reason to believe that the marks of either an individual student or a group of students are not what they should be a re-mark may be appropriate. It is important to target your re-mark requests with care, remembering that marks can go down as well as up as a consequence of this process. Even so re-marks make a significant, positive, difference for many students every year.
- Appeals: If you believe things have gone seriously wrong in some way you may wish to lodge an appeal. It’s important to familiarise yourself with the Ofqual Code of Practice provisions before embarking on what can be a complicated, not to say expensive, process. It is surprising how often an informal chat to the awarding body can produce the result you are looking for without your having to involve yourself in the formal appeal process.
Don’t miss out!
Following the move away from modular exams you owe it to your school or college, but most particularly to your students, to ensure that you make the most of the various provisions made available by the exam system which can make that critical difference. Make sure you are fully informed and prepared for a change which will have very real consequences.