General qualification bodies

The new regulations and their impact

On 24th October 2008, regulations came into force concerning the awarding of grades where candidates have been granted an exemption from a whole component within an examination.

The regulations were laid by the Government to confirm that when a disabled candidate is granted an exemption, the grade awarded reflects the candidate's performance in those parts of the examination which have been completed.

Whilst exams are designed to reduce barriers to disabled candidates demonstrating their skills, knowledge and understanding, it is inevitable that some barriers may still exist for some candidates.  In order to allow such candidates access to their examinations, awarding bodies are required to make 'reasonable adjustments'.  Examples of reasonable adjustments include additional time and the provision of readers and scribes. As a last resort, awarding bodies may agree to exempt a candidate from part of an exam, where no other reasonable adjustment is possible.

When considering applications for exemptions, awarding bodies will ensure that candidates are no worse off under the new regulations than they would have been before these regulations were laid. Awarding bodies will carefully consider candidates' specific needs, while ensuring that reasonable adjustments, including exemptions, do not undermine the integrity of the qualification or the qualifications system in general.

Next steps

The Commission will work with the Department for Children, Families and Schools and our stakeholders to clarify the interaction of provisions in the Single Equality Bill with competence standards.

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