Education Law

Expert Education Law advice courtesy of the dedicated team of nationally respected specialist lawyers at HCB.

  • Comprehensive advice on all aspects of education law
  • Proven expertise in special educational needs and higher education law

Help with Exams

If a student, of any age, is taking a course which includes a public examination, or coursework, they may be entitled to access arrangements to ensure that they are able to complete the course.

Schools, colleges and universities should inform students, or their parents, of the ability to make an application for support in examinations. The support is commonly referred to as “Access Arrangements”. Older students, particularly those at university, will need to make sure that they are familiar with the policies about applying for Access Arrangements.

Access Arrangements can include more time to complete an exam, a scribe or a reader or a change to the marking criteria. This is not an exhaustive list.

All students who have special educational needs, or a disability, should request access arrangements.

Students in compulsory education and further education

All pupils are entitled to apply for Access Arrangements. However, only those pupils that qualify for additional support will receive it. The relevant examining bodies have detailed guidance setting out the requirements to qualify for each form of support. Typically, the guidance relies on assessment of the level of need, learning difficulty, or physical disability, to determine what access arrangement should be made.

Schools and colleges should identify which pupils require additional support in examinations and apply, on their behalf, for additional support. These applications should detail what support is sought and why the pupil qualifies for it in accordance with the guidance. 

If the school or college do not make the application for Access Arrangements, parents will need to liase with the school and ensure that an application is submitted by the relevant deadline.

Pupils with a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education Health and Care Plan

Pupils with a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education Health and Care Plan should have the details of the Access Arrangements they require included within their Statement or EHCP.

If the Statement or EHCP for a pupil does set out the necessary Access Arrangements, it will still be necessary to apply for the Access Arrangement from the relevant examining body. The Statement or EHCP can be used to support that application. It is important to be aware that the examining body will have to be satisfied that the qualifying criteria for each form of support are satisfied, even if the support is detailed in the Statement or EHCP.

If the Statement or EHCP does not contain details of the support that the pupil will require, an application should still be made. The application will need to be supported by advice from the school and other expert advice as appropriate.

Schools and colleges should support pupils with a Statement or EHCP to ensure that they do not miss the deadline to apply for Access Arrangements.

University students

By law, students in Higher Education cannot have a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an Education Health and Care Plan. This means that university students will need to make a separate application supported by advice and support from teaching staff and other relevant experts.

University students will be expected to be aware of the university’s policies regarding applying for Access Arrangements. This means that students in Higher Education will be expected to apply for support themselves. However, if the student has a particular disability means they will have difficulty making the application, the university should support them.

Difficulties with Access Arrangements

There can be a number of difficulties that arise. This can include:

  • Schools refusing to apply for Access Arrangements
  • Universities not supporting students with their applications
  • Students missing the deadline to apply  
  • Being denied the Access Arrangements that have been requested

If a pupil requires support to complete their examinations, support should be made available. If the pupil’s school, college or university have not helped in that process, or the examination body has refused the Access Arrangements, it can be helpful to seek specialist legal advice.

Our specialist education law solicitors are happy to discuss any concerns that you may have.



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