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AET exam accommodations

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In 2017-18, the AET was commissioned by the Department for Education to develop two pieces of work to improve the accessibility of GCSE Maths and English for pupils with autism taking public exams in response to concerns about fair access.

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1. AET guidance & recommendations for examining boards: Increasing accessibility for autistic students within GCSE English & Mathematics exam papers whilst retaining subject challenge

This guidance aims to support exam boards to meet their requirement to provide an inclusive design within exam papers whilst raising key issues in relation to the complexity of enabling fair access whilst retaining the integrity of the questioning. In GCSE English and Mathematics workshops with practitioners, particular exam papers from summer 2017 were scrutinised in terms of question content, question wording and exam paper layout to analyse where alterations could have been made by examination boards without removing subject challenge that could have increased accessibility for pupils with autism. Exam boards have systems in place to help ensure that their assessments are valid, reliable, free from bias, use appropriate language and are compliant with the Equality Act (2010). The guidance now forms the basis of further discussions with Ofqual and exam boards.

2. AET exam accommodations guidance to support students with autism at GCSE

Pupils with autism face particular issues which can make taking and demonstrating their knowledge in exams especially difficult. There are specific changes which schools can make to reflect their student’s normal way of working and give additional recognition of those difficulties in exams. The AET produced this guide to help teachers and examination officers plan for and support pupils with autism when taking public examinations in England and Wales. The guide explains why exams are an issue, lists access arrangements, explains how to apply for them, and describes the implications for the school in terms of accomodation and staffing. It includes a summary checklist of the key steps to enable an autistic student to do their best before, during and after the exam.

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