Download the full outcome
Detail of outcome
There were 36 respondents to the consultation, who supported most of our proposals. Respondents provided a number of comments. In many instances, these were about refinements to the wording of our draft specifications, to improve their clarity. In particular, respondents suggested improvements to the clarity of our specifications on the use of readers and practical assistants. Respondents also suggested that we include guidance and examples alongside our specifications to help users understand them.
Although we have not set out every response, we have considered all responses in arriving at our decisions. We have published an analysis of responses to our consultation alongside our decisions.
We have published a new version of ‘Specifications in relation to the reasonable adjustment of general qualifications’ to formally introduce our new specifications. This replaces the version published in 2011 and will come in to effect on 1 January 2017.
Detail of feedback received
There were 36 responses to the consultation. 10 of these were from awarding organisations and 10 were personal responses. We received 9 responses from representative or interest groups, 3 from schools or colleges, 2 from unions and 1 each from a trade association and a local authority. 1 organisational response, from a union, did not respond directly to our consultation questions but provided a general response.
Respondents to the consultation supported the majority of our proposals. Respondents provided a number of comments in response to our proposals. In many instances, these were about refinements to the wording of our draft specifications to improve their clarity, as opposed to wholesale changes. In particular, respondents suggested improvements to the clarity of our specifications concerning readers and practical assistants. Respondents also suggested that we include guidance and examples alongside our specifications to help users understand them.
There were 2 areas in particular where views were split amongst respondents:
- Oral language modifiers (OLMs). We proposed not to specify to prohibit OLMs as a reasonable adjustment. We received strong views both for and against this proposal, with some awarding organisations suggesting OLMs should be prohibited, whilst many representative groups would like to see OLMs remain available.
- Access to texts and other materials. We proposed to specify to restrict access to texts and other materials (for example calculators) that are not normally available to students, as a reasonable adjustment. Views on this were mixed with some awarding organisations preferring an outright ban on provision of such materials, whilst other respondents supported our proposal to put in place restrictions that go short of a ban.
We are seeking views on our proposals for amendments to the specifications on reasonable adjustments for disabled students.
Awarding organisations have a duty, under the Equality Act 2010, to make reasonable adjustments for disabled students. Each year many adjustments are made to the way disabled students take their assessments, to remove or reduce the disadvantage they would otherwise experience.
The Equality Act gives Ofqual the power to limit the extent of the duty on awarding organisations to make reasonable adjustments, for specified general qualifications in England.
We have been given this power so we can make sure that reasonable adjustments do not:
- prevent a qualification giving a reliable indication of a student’s knowledge, skills and understanding
- damage public confidence in a qualification
We use this power by making ‘specifications’. These prohibit or limit the extent to which awarding organisations must make or allow reasonable adjustments to some qualifications.
We are committed to keeping these specifications under review and are now seeking views on proposed amendments and additions to them. In addition to the specifications themselves, we are also seeking views on the qualifications our specifications apply to and how awarding organisations indicate an exemption on students’ certificates.
In 2011, we made eight specifications:
- An exemption must not be used as a reasonable adjustment, except where no other reasonable adjustment is available to the candidate.
- An exemption must not be used as a reasonable adjustment where it would form more than 40% of the available (weighted) marks of a qualification. In a GCE, at least one A2 unit must be completed. For Principal Learning, 40% of the qualification should be taken to mean 40% of the guided learning hours.
- An exemption to part of a component must not be used as a reasonable adjustment. Exemptions must only be provided for whole components where a candidate cannot access any part of that component.
- Awarding organisations must not make reasonable adjustments for disabled candidates in relation to grade boundaries and pass marks, also known as ‘cut scores’.
- Human readers must not be used as a reasonable adjustment where a candidate’s reading ability is being assessed.
- Human scribes and voice recognition systems must not be used as a reasonable adjustment to demonstrate written skills where those written skills form part of the qualification’s assessment objectives.
- British Sign Language must not be used as a reasonable adjustment where candidates are required to demonstrate their ability to speak or listen in English or a Modern Foreign Language.
- Practical assistants must not be used as a reasonable adjustment to carry out physical tasks or demonstrate physical abilities where those physical tasks or abilities form part of the qualification’s assessment objectives.
The specifications cover:
- 14 to 19 diploma principal learning
- advanced extension awards
- Cambridge international certificate
- Cambridge pre-university qualification
- certificate in adult literacy
- certificate in adult numeracy
- entry level certificates in GCSE subjects
- extended projects
- foundation projects
- free-standing mathematics qualifications
- functional skills
- general certificate of education advanced level (AS and A levels)
- general certificate of secondary education (GCSE)
- general national vocational qualifications (GNVQs)
- higher projects
- international baccalaureate diploma
- key skills
- Welsh baccalaureate qualification
- core certificate