Access Arrangements

Modern Foreign Languages

The Examination Board has to be contacted for a decision when major adaptations are required for oral work in some of the syllabuses in Modern Foreign Languages, In GCSE English the teacher sets and assesses oral tasks, and has the flexibility within the syllabus to adapt them to meet the needs of the pupil.

Sometimes the school may choose a syllabus for Modern Foreign Languages that does not have teacher assessment only and advice about significant adaptations for the student who stammers have consequently to be discussed with the Examination Board. When the teacher does not finally assess the oral work, the testing is done in school under the conditions prescribed by the Board. The syllabus for these is continually being amended so it is impossible to provide prescriptive advice. Parents and/or the student need to request the details of the exact requirements for the oral work from the subject tutor.

All the Examination Boards follow the advice on access arrangements of the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ). The Board will then make a judgement on the basis of the candidate's need. This need must be clearly evidenced and demonstrate that the stammer is having a substantial effect on the student's performance so it may be helpful if the candidate is already placed on School Action. When the student has the support of a speech and language therapist, then that professional may be able to offer advice, and/or provide information for the teacher or the Examination Board about the effects of stammering on an oral presentation.

Schools will judge whether to apply for access arrangements and the BSA is pleased that now there is no indication on the certificate that this support has been provided.

Omission of the oral component

The decision by some schools, in the recent past, to exclude the pupil who stammers from submitting an oral component in English or Modern Foreign Languages is out of step with the expectation that staff will work with the pupil, and any outside agency, to adapt curricular requirements to allow for participation. When the oral component is omitted there is an indication of that on the certificate. In view of the fact that oral skills are now highly valued by employers it is not advisable to be exempted from those oral tasks.

The Equality Act (EA) now makes schools responsible for adaptations to the curriculum so that a pupil with a disability is not discriminated against. This is helpful for a pupil who stammers as it raises awareness of individual need even though the pupil and his parents may not consider stammering to be a disability. The school is guided by the EA to be proactive in its response to individual needs in support of any intervention offered through the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice. The Examination Boards equally have their own policies in place to support any school application for adaptations. When this good practice is in place, the student who stammers should be able to achieve in the oral work, according to ability. The GCSE certificate will not indicate that access arrangements were applied.

Students who stammer, who have effective support in place, can achieve in oral tasks just as successfully as those students who do not stammer. Parents and students do not need to consider exemption from the oral work as an option. If the school suggests exemption the BSA should be contacted for further advice.

Further information and advice

Tips for students on GCSE English oral work at BSA:Education-GCSE English

Strategies for staff at BSA:Education-GCSE Orals

Information on access arrangements at BSA-Access arrangements for oral components of the GCSE


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