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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 3:13 pm 
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DD is due to take GCSEs this academic year. School has recommended use of a scribe for exams she can’t word process.

It takes a bit of practice to get used to using a scribe but I’m told it is a faster adjustment than using assistive technology for maths and sciences. However we have also been advised against using a scribe instead of applying for extra time. The rationale is firstly, the significant loss of independence but secondly, because use of a scribe appears on the student transcript whereas extra time does not. The observation was made that the use of a scribe has often led to a devaluation of the student’s ability.

Does anybody here have any experience on the long term outcome for students who use a scribe for their exams?


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 5:34 pm 
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Location: Solihull, West Midlands
When using a scribe (and I have been that person) you cannot usually get the full SPAG marks available in some papers because it is assumed that the scribe will be responsible for spelling correctly. One pupil I scribed for in her Yr 11 mocks (due to hypermobility affecting her handwriting speed) chose to write her own answers to selected questions in order to give herself the chance of gaining some of those extra marks. It's stated on the front of the exam paper (and they will have known in advance) which of the questions these marks are awarded on. Another option I used in a previous exam was for the pupil to spell out key technical words letter by letter so that they could demonstrate their ability to do this (might be necessary in any case if the scribe doesn't have in-depth knowledge of say the names of members of the German Weimar government!) and the scribe would then make a comment on the cover sheet to that effect. It would obviously be impractical to dictate every word letter by letter. Pupils can also dictate punctuation and again that would be noted by the scribe.

Scribing usually also involves extra time in any case as it is a more time-consuming process, and is a great deal of responsibility on the scribe to remain totally impassive while being dictated a garbled stream of consciousness at high speed.... And writing down completely wrong answers without blinking an eyelid....

Obviously there are cases where this has to be arranged at short notice (broken arms etc) but it should be the standard practice for previous timed writing in school exams. A child who is completely unable to handwrite legibly in lessons would presumably also have had the option of a laptop for lessons and for exams with extended writing, and also a scribe for maths - but as it can be quite hard for a child to describe what they want written in a maths exam that is not ideal

I'm not sure what you mean by "transcript" - the fact that a scribe has been used will be noted on a cover sheet where the scribe will sign that they have followed all the guidelines etc and clarify which sections have been dictated and which were the pupil's own written words. I can't comment on how that might be treated in the marking system but the idea is for the child not to be disadvantaged by their difficulty with writing longhand. The SPAG issue is the only one that could make a difference to marking as far as I can tell

Edited to add: in maths exams it is also possible for the pupil to do their own rough working (which can of course be marked) and then ask the scribe to write the correct answer.

I've also remembered that in exams with extra time last year the pupils had to swap to a coloured biro at the changeover time. This may have been for mocks as part of the evidence for the pupil actually making use of the extra time and therefore needing it for future exams.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 6:16 pm 
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Just to add that you don’t get the choice of either a scribe or extra time - it isn’t your choice, it is what the SENCO decides based on the evidence they have collected, helps remove any disadvantages.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 7:40 pm 
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Thanks so much Solimum and kenyancowgirl for taking the time to reply. The detailed description of scribing is particularly helpful.

By transcript I mean official results or academic record; something that might be required for further study or job applications (though presumably further study might need to know anyway!).

DD has dyspraxia and hypermobile hands. Although DD’s school knew she was dyspraxic and allowed her use of a word processor, we discovered in year 10 that she had not been put on the SEN list and extra time was given on an ad hoc basis for those tests she couldn’t type. We asked school for a SPeLD assessment. The school could only assess for dyslexia so did this. DD is not dyslexic but has extremely slow and painful handwriting (4th-5th percentile).

The school SPeLD assessor recommended word processing in essay-based exams and scribing for science exams. This happened shortly before lockdown. DD has never used a scribe so to establish a normal mode of working will have to use it in her assessments at the end of this month and mocks in January.

I wondered about extra time (scribing seemed extreme) but hadn’t been too concerned until speaking to an educational psychologist and DD’s hypermobility specialist physiotherapist in the last few weeks. Now with school back, if we have reservations about this plan we have about two weeks in which to act.

Thanks,

PS

Edited for clarity


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:32 pm 
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Location: Solihull, West Midlands
I can reassure you that her results will be the same as everyone else's and won't indicate whether she had extra time, a reader, a laptop, toilet breaks, timing reminders, practical assistance, a quiet room or any of the other considerations. (Scribing would obviously take place in a separate room: those with extra time will probably be sat together at one end of the exam venue so they aren't disturbed too much when the rest leave)

I'm not a SENCO so not sure exactly how the entitlements are decided, and what evidence needs to be provided to JCQ, but I imagine it would depend on exactly how her condition affects her writing - does it make it slower, does it make it illegible, or does it become more painful so she can't get the answers down fast enough or would struggle to finish the paper (Science exams are mostly short answers and multiple choice, although there may be longer questions at the end). Her opinion and preferences can certainly be expressed - the idea is that the special consideration shouldn't give her an advantage over her peers, but enable her to demonstrate her knowledge and understanding. How does she cope with note-taking in lessons where word processing is difficult - completing worksheets, writing out chemical structures, drawing diagrams of the cell etc? These are all the questions that the school will be looking at in order to justify any special considerations as her normal way of working (and it seems like "normal" can mean "from the beginning of Yr 11". (However unless she's got an EHCP she's unlikely to have a regular scribe in lessons so I'm not exactly sure how that would be demonstrated)

But anyway if she's offered a scribe, with or without extra time, she doesn't have to use them for every question and can rattle through the multiple choice on her own if she prefers


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:49 pm 
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Just one change - special consideration is something different! This is an unplanned event alteration to exam marking! It’s only worth a max of 5%

Otherwise I concur that once the special arrangements have been agreed eg scribe etc nobody outside the exam room knows about them.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:52 pm 
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Yes, sorry, meant "exam considerations".

Did the training too long ago (last October, and then of course no exams to actually put it into practice this summer. At least my wrist has been spared handwriting RS exams again!


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2020 12:56 am 
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Thank you solimum and kenyancowgirl, that’s hugely reassuring.
DD copes well with multi choice, and writing short answers, but long answers take her an absurdly long time to handwrite and her hand starts to cramp after just a few sentences. I think she will be relieved to know she can do those quick answers on her own and still get help from the scribe for the longer bits when she needs it. I hope she will be able to ask for help then and not be tempted to battle on, as is her wont.

DD has struggled to take notes in class if she has to write without a laptop. She kept trying though - for convenience or so as not to stand out - and as a result there are lots of gaps in her notes. A few teachers have given her hand outs/ power points to annotate but most haven’t.

DD finally saw the light over lockdown when she simply couldn’t keep up no matter how many extra hours she put in on writing out her notes. Despite her SPeLD assessment it still took an EdPsych report to finally convince DD of the real gap between her ability and what her slow handwriting would allow her to achieve.

It has taken so long to get these accommodations sorted; 6 years since DD’s first OT assessment, 3 years since her 2nd OT assessment, and 2 years since she was formally diagnosed by a neurodevelopmental paediatrician (all NHS). 4 years since we started talking to the (first) SENCo about accommodations for class work and access arrangements for exams. I think we’ll make it but not with any time to spare, so I really want to get it right.

Thanks again,
PS


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2020 7:22 pm 
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I hope it all goes well for her. Depending on the school staffing they may have to employ someone additional as a scribe or use an LSA but ideally it should be the same one or two people over the exam season so that she feels comfortable working in this way. The candidate is "in charge" of what is written and how, and that takes a certain amount of confidence.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2020 4:02 pm 
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I don’t want to throw a spanner in the works, but there may need to be considerations as to how close a scribe could sit to your DD if we are all still socially distanced. Also, how clearly your DD can be heard through a mask? Just things to consider and ask when you’re looking at all the options.


Last edited by helen0209 on Wed Sep 16, 2020 5:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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