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PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2020 5:44 pm 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Due to concerns regarding my son's writing speeds (post GCSE mocks), he was assessed at his school on Monday. They have informed him, although identified as writing speed issues/legibility, that it is too late to apply for extra time in his GCSE's however he will be able to use a laptop for exams which involve a lot of writing. Is this correct, is he too late for extra time? Just checking as this is an area I'm not knowledgble in. I don't want him to be disadvantaged in his exams.

Thank you for your help/advice.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2020 8:58 pm 
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I think the deadline is 21st February but the school may not feel they have enough time or evidence to process an application by then. You can see details https://www.jcq.org.uk/Download/exams-o ... ts-2019-20

Bear in mind that the closer to the deadline the more an exam board scrutinises them and after the deadline they will go over with a fine toothcomb.

It does sound to me as if the school have identified in their assessment that his issue is his writing when he has to be speedy - his legibility - and therefore there offer of a laptop would be appropriate. (I have been a chief invigilator for over 11 years, representing JCQ)


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2020 10:17 pm 
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kenyancowgirl wrote:
I think the deadline is 21st February but the school may not feel they have enough time or evidence to process an application by then. You can see details https://www.jcq.org.uk/Download/exams-o ... ts-2019-20

Bear in mind that the closer to the deadline the more an exam board scrutinises them and after the deadline they will go over with a fine toothcomb.

It does sound to me as if the school have identified in their assessment that his issue is his writing when he has to be speedy - his legibility - and therefore there offer of a laptop would be appropriate. (I have been a chief invigilator for over 11 years, representing JCQ)


Thank you for your reply, he was offered the use of a laptop in class for revision notes/class work and his English teacher noticed an improvement in the amount of work he was submitting. Their mocks were at the beginning of January and he would come home and say that the exams themselves were not difficult he just found he couldn't get the information down in time and was getting quite anxious, thinking there was something wrong with him. The school put him in for an SEN assessment and we were told today that he is below average for writing speed and the school would support the use of a laptop in those exams that require a lot of writing. I had a feeling that the school may have said the deadline had gone as they did not want to have to deal with assessments/paperwork, he is a bright/able child that has a slight disability when is comes to his writing speed (no reflection on his academic ability) and I feel that he will now be at a disadvantage in his GCSE's against those who do not have this problem. I've not experienced this before, my other two had no issues, so it is all new to me.

I have gone back to the school to ask them to explain their decision regarding the application timescales for extra time, it will be interesting to see their response.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2020 7:53 am 
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Ultimately, to me, the SEN has done the right thing - they have assessed your son and said that he needs help with his writing speed and legibility - this is NOT processing difficulties.

They have done the right thing offering a laptop and noticing the difference it has made - they are the people who have to put in the evidience and defend it and they have created the evidence that the laptop has improved the work he is submitting. The laptop mitigates any perceived disability of his writing speed - the rules have really been tightened up as they were being misused by many centres - honestly, apart from being wrong about the deadline, I would expect my school to do exactly the same.

My son was offered exactly the same as his writing is terrible - he chose not to take a laptop as he felt that would not help him (it obviously has helped your son) - we didn't even consider asking for extra time (although he would be eligible under a separate medical reason - but he refuses to take it) as it was about how bad his writing gets when he works at speed, not a processing thing - there is a distinction.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2020 6:09 pm 
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Yes the rules are quite strict about any special considerations being the normal way of working, and evidence of that needs to be submitted. In the recent mocks at our school students with extra time had to switch pens to a purple one at the end of normal time, presumably to give visible evidence that the extra time was actually being used.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2020 6:09 pm 
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Location: Solihull, West Midlands
Yes the rules are quite strict about any special considerations being the normal way of working, and evidence of that needs to be submitted. In the recent mocks at our school students with extra time had to switch pens to a purple one at the end of normal time, presumably to give visible evidence that the extra time was actually being used.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2020 4:47 pm 
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kenyancowgirl wrote:
Ultimately, to me, the SEN has done the right thing - they have assessed your son and said that he needs help with his writing speed and legibility - this is NOT processing difficulties.

They have done the right thing offering a laptop and noticing the difference it has made - they are the people who have to put in the evidience and defend it and they have created the evidence that the laptop has improved the work he is submitting. The laptop mitigates any perceived disability of his writing speed - the rules have really been tightened up as they were being misused by many centres - honestly, apart from being wrong about the deadline, I would expect my school to do exactly the same.

My son was offered exactly the same as his writing is terrible - he chose not to take a laptop as he felt that would not help him (it obviously has helped your son) - we didn't even consider asking for extra time (although he would be eligible under a separate medical reason - but he refuses to take it) as it was about how bad his writing gets when he works at speed, not a processing thing - there is a distinction.


Thank you for your reply, as it's all new to me I just wanted to be sure I'm doing all the right things to help my son.

The school has emailed to confirm that they will discuss tomorrow their decision, which is fine, however would it be ok for me to ask the school to ensure he has a few practice sessions using a laptop in exam conditions, i.e. to get used to timings, how to lay it out etc., before the actual GCSE's. He is prone to anxiety if put into new situations without any experience before hand? All his mocks were done by hand (early January) prior to him being assessed and the issue with his writing speed being flagged up.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2020 5:01 pm 
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He should use the laptop in lessons where there is a lot of writing. Then he will he used to it by exams - it will literally be “notes”. There is no thesaurus etc, just a blank screen. There is no layout, he just puts the question number and types - and saves as he goes along. Using it in lessons going forward would be the best way for him to learn.

He will feed off your anxiety so it is important you play your anxiety down. Stress the positive - his writing when he works at speed is not legible therefore he is not getting every mark he could - the laptop mitigates this.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2020 7:34 pm 
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kenyancowgirl wrote:
He should use the laptop in lessons where there is a lot of writing. Then he will he used to it by exams - it will literally be “notes”. There is no thesaurus etc, just a blank screen. There is no layout, he just puts the question number and types - and saves as he goes along. Using it in lessons going forward would be the best way for him to learn.

He will feed off your anxiety so it is important you play your anxiety down. Stress the positive - his writing when he works at speed is not legible therefore he is not getting every mark he could - the laptop mitigates this.


Thanks kenyancowgirl - will keep positive for him, will check with the school tomorrow when they call that they ensure he uses the laptop in lessons to get used to it. Many thanks again.

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