Access Arrangements FAQ’s

1. Applying for Access Arrangements

Parents of children who possess any physical, learning or medical impairment which may impact upon their ability to perform at their best in the assessments may apply for Access Arrangements.  This will be for children for whom arrangements have been in place in Primary School up to the end of Primary Six.  The most common reasons a candidate might apply for Access Arrangements are listed below, this is not an exclusive list and any physical, learning or medical impairment will be considered.

  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Dyscalculia
  • ADHD
  • ADD
  • Vocal Tics
  • Diabetes
  • Asperger’s Syndrome
  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder
  • Hearing Loss
  • Visual Impairments
  • Heart Conditions
  • Spina Bifida
  • Cerebal Palsy
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Epilepsy
  • OCD

Parents of children whose first language is neither English or Irish and who have spent less than three years in the United Kingdom and/or Ireland before September 2019 may also apply for Access Arrangements.

You should refer to our Guidance Notes for Access Arrangements, which can be found on our website under the section ‘Access Arrangements’ from Monday 29th April for an extensive list of arrangements that can be requested and examples of appropriate evidence.

Parents should tick the box in Section B of the Registration Form to indicate they are applying for Access Arrangements and complete the Access Application Form (ACC/19). ACC/19 will be available to print and download from the website on 29th April 2019 and should be attached to the Registration Form along with all appropriate evidences.

If it is not possible to attach your Access Application Form and evidences along with the Registration Form you should still tick the box in Section B but you may send your application separately as long as it submitted to the AQE Office by Friday 6th September 2019 at the latest.  Access Application Forms are available from Monday 29th April or hard copies can be posted out from the AQE Office on request.

If you submit a Registration Form without ticking the relevant box in Section B and later wish to apply for Access Arrangements you may do so by sending form ACC/19 and all appropriate evidences to the AQE Office. Please ensure your child’s candidate number (found on their Admissions Card) is clearly stated. If you have submitted your registration form but not yet received your Admissions Card you can still submit ACC/19 and evidences, but we would appreciate if you could let us know the rough date you posted your form, to enable us to match the documents with your original registration form.

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2. For physical, learning or medical impairments.

Evidence should be from one or more of the following: an appropriately qualified medical doctor, another suitable or medical professional, a primary school principal, a psychologist, a suitably qualified educational professional who is accredited by the British Psychological Society (this means someone who is qualified to practise in the United Kingdom holding an HCP Number).

Written evidence should be on headed paper, dated, accompanied by the name, address, phone number and, where possible, e-mail address, of the person providing it. In the case of schools the written evidence must be signed or countersigned by the principal.

In considering evidence submitted by parents to support an application for Access Arrangements, the Access Panel will have regard to the evidence which parents/guardians have supplied to demonstrate that the Access Arrangement(s) for which they have applied reflect(s) a child’s normal way of working in school.

More detailed guidance on appropriate evidences for specific requests are found in our Guidance Notes. These can be downloaded from our website from Monday 29th April 2019.

Category: Impairments

If your child has a Statement of Special Educational Needs you should contact your Education Authority to find out if they can be admitted to post-Primary Schools by another route.

Children with a Statement of Special Education Needs can sit the CEA and apply for Access Arrangements but parents should be aware that the Access Committee may not necessarily award as an Access Arrangement all to which the Statemented child is entitled under their statement, because a balance has to be struck between making reasonable adjustments and maintaining fairness and consistency for all candidates.

Category: Impairments

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3. For first languages other than English/Irish and education within UK/Ireland for less than three years.

No.  It is only possible to sit the assessments in English and Irish.  However if your child’s first language is neither English nor Irish and they have spent less than three years in the United Kingdom/Ireland before September 2019 they can apply for Access Arrangements to receive some assistance.

Category: Language

You should send any evidence which supports your claim.  This should include evidence of entry into the UK/Ireland (for example a passport stamp) where available and a letter from your Primary School confirming the date you enrolled with them including, if appropriate, confirmation that they transferred from outside the UK/Ireland.

Evidence should be sent along with an application form for Access Arrangements (ACC/19). This can be downloaded from our website from Monday 29th April 2019.

Category: Language

If your child arrives in Northern Ireland in time to register (i.e. before the 6th September 2019), then they should do the assessements and apply for assistance using Access Arrangements. 

If your child arrives after the registration period (i.e. after 6th September 2019) then they cannot sit the assessments, but you should make use of Special Provision to apply for a grammar school.  (See the section on our website regarding ‘Special Circumstances/Provision).

Category: Language

Children educated within the UK/Ireland for more than three years before September 2019 do not normally meet the criteria for Access Arrangements, even if their first language is neither English nor Irish. 

If your child is not eligible for assistance through Access Arrangements, it may be possible for parents to ask for special consideration later on in the process.  For more information you should see the section of our website entitled ‘Special Circumstances and Provision’.

Category: Language

Access Arrangements are granted to children who have been educated outside of the UK/Ireland and whose first language is neither English or Irish, therefore children whose first language is English or Irish do not normally meet the criteria for Access Arrangements. 

If your child is not eligible for assistance through Access Arrangements, it may be possible for parents to ask for special consideration later on in the process.  For more information you should see the section of our website entitled ‘Special Circumstances and Provision’.

Category: Language

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4. The procedure following a submitted application for Access Arrangements.

AQE Limited will appoint an Access Panel that will be responsible for deciding on all applications for access arrangements.  The Access Panel will consider all requests for Access arrangements received by the closing date.  It will decide on which reasonable adjustments can be made in the light of the evidence submitted and based on the access arrangements available under AQE regulations  

The Access Panel will meet on several occasions between the middle of June and middle of September 2019.  Therefore, any applications submitted in May will not be considered until the first meeting in June.  Each case is submitted to the next scheduled Access Panel meeting, after it is received by the office.  Cases will only be considered by the Access Panel when all evidences have been submitted.

Once a decision has been made, agreed access arrangements will be communicated to the parent/guardian in writing.

If you are satisfied with the agreed arrangements you do not have to do anything further as the AQE Office will also inform the Designated Officer in your child’s assessment centre in time for preparations to be made.

If your application has been turned down due to insufficient evidence you are able to submit further evidence for re-consideration.  Details of how to do this will be included with your outcome. 

If you feel the assistance granted to your child does not meet what was requested nor what was outlined in the evidence you provided please contact the AQE Office for advice on how to request an adjustment to the outcome.   Please be aware that a balance has to be struck between making reasonable adjustments and maintaining fairness and consistency for all candidates. At this stage, you do not need to make an formal appeal on the decision if there is further evidence that can be submitted.

If, once all the available evidence has been submitted you are still not satisfied with the outcome for your child, you may be able to appeal. Whilst the decision of the Access Panel is usually final an appeal may be considered if there are sufficient grounds.

Whilst the decision of the Access Panel is usually final an appeal may be considered if there are sufficient grounds.

An application for appeal must be made in writing to the CEO and have attached all information to be considered.  An appeal can only be brought on the grounds that the Access Panel did not:

  • have sight of all relevant evidence or information to which parents did not or could not have access at the time of application;
  • medical conditions arising after the closing date which have a direct impact on the child’s ability to sit the test without the appropriate access arrangements.

The Appeals Panel is independent of the Access Panel.  There will normally be a panel of three, the CEO, a member of the Access Panel who was not part of the initial decision and an AQE Director or other suitable representative of AQE.  In some circumstances the panel may also include another educational professional.

The decision of the Appeals Panel will be communicated in writing and will be final.

Depending on the nature of the adjustment or addition and the evidence already provided this may be able to be facilitated without any further submission of evidence.

You should contact the AQE Office who will be able to advise you further and, if necessary, will be able to provide you with a cover sheet which should be returned along with any additional evidences.

If you wish to cancel any or all arrangements granted for your child you should inform the AQE Office of this in writing, please bear in mind that letters should be written and signed by the first contact on the original Registration Form. 

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