D3: Reasonable Adjustments and Special Consideration Policy and Procedures

Overview of the policy

1.     Scope of the policy

This policy is aimed at all who are studying awards delivered by ORMS, and who are involved in the assessment of learners. It does not apply to students on RGU courses.

2.     Purpose of the policy

The purpose of the policy is to set out ORMS’ requirements on the use of reasonable adjustments and special considerations, to explain how we will apply for a reasonable adjustment or special consideration for one or more of our learners, to lay out the process by which ORMS will decide on any requests made and to specify how decisions will be communicated.

3.     Location and communication of the policy

The policy can be downloaded from our website http://intranet.orms247.co.uk, or requested from the Head of Administration whose details are given at the end of this policy. It is important that personnel involved in the management, assessment and quality assurance of our qualifications as well as learners are fully aware of the contents of this policy. The Quality Manager will check that ORMS tutors are aware of its contents and purpose and that learners are aware of their right to request reasonable adjustments and/or special consideration.

4.     Review of the policy

ORMS will review the policy annually and revise it as and when required in response to customer and stakeholder feedback, changes in our practices, requirements from the qualifications regulators or changes in legislation. The review will ensure that procedures continue to be consistent with the regulatory conditions of recognition and are applied accurately and fairly in arriving at judgements.

5.     Background to the policy

ORMS is committed to achieving an environment which provides equality of opportunity and freedom from discrimination of any kind. Our qualifications will be explicit about what is to be assessed and will allow for a variety of forms of evidence to be used within ‘fit for purpose’ assessments that are free from any unjustifiable barriers. Our qualification development systems ensure that no hidden or additional elements form part of the assessment.

Equalities law requires that ORMS must have in place clear arrangements to make reasonable adjustments to its qualifications and their assessment so that a  learner with a disability is able to demonstrate his or her knowledge, skills and understanding to the levels of attainment required by the qualification. In addition, ORMS are required to give special consideration to a learner who has temporarily experienced illness, injury or some other event outside their control which may affect the outcome of an assessment.

6. Applying for reasonable adjustments and special consideration

6.1 Reasonable Adjustments

ORMS endeavours to ensure that the assessment requirements and methods used within their qualifications are sufficiently flexible to enable the widest range of candidates to fairly and reliably demonstrate competence and meet the learning outcomes and assessment criteria of the qualification. However, we must also ensure that the arrangements we allow will be valid and reliable, designed to accurately reflect candidates’ competence to meet the learning outcomes and assessment criteria of the qualification. We must also ensure that learners are not given either real or perceived unfair advantage.

A reasonable adjustment may be needed at the time of assessment where

  • learners have a permanent disability or specific learning need
  • learners have a temporary disability, medical condition or learning need

The candidate’s tutor/assessor will explain the assessment criteria and the requirements of the qualification. If candidates believe there are reasons they might find it difficult to show competence through the methods proposed they should discuss what alternatives might be available with their tutor/assessor.

If the candidate’s needs fit into the categories above, s/he can apply for a reasonable adjustment.

A reasonable adjustment is any action that helps to reduce the effect of a disability that places the learner at a substantial disadvantage in the assessment situation.  It is made to an assessment for a qualification to enable a disabled learner to demonstrate his or her knowledge, skills and understanding of the levels of attainment required by the specification for that qualification.

Reasonable adjustments must not affect the integrity of what needs to be assessed, but may involve:

  • changing usual assessment arrangements, for example allowing a learner extra time to complete the assessment activity
  • adapting assessment materials, such as providing materials in Braille
  • providing assistance during assessment, such as a sign language interpreter or a reader
  • re-organising the assessment room, such as removing visual stimuli for an autistic learner
  • changing the assessment method, for example from a written assessment to a spoken assessment
  • using assistive technology, such as screen reading or voice activated software
  • providing the mechanism to have different colour backgrounds to screens for onscreen assessments or asking for permission for copying to different coloured paper for paper-based assessments
  • providing and allowing different coloured transparencies with which to view assessment papers

Reasonable adjustments are approved or set in place before the assessment activity takes place; they constitute an arrangement to give the learner access to the assessment. The use of a reasonable adjustment will not be taken into consideration during the assessment of a learner’s work. ORMS is only required by law to do what is ‘reasonable’ in terms of giving access to assessment. What is reasonable will depend on the individual circumstances, cost implications and the practicality and effectiveness of the adjustment.  Other factors, such as the need to maintain competence standards and health and safety, will also be taken into consideration.

Some reasonable adjustments can be agreed by ORMS and notified to any relevant Awarding Body, others will need agreement from either the External Quality Advisor, the Standards Verifier or the Awarding Body. A table of possible reasonable adjustments and the responsibility for agreeing them is included at Appendix 1.

6.2 Special Consideration

Special consideration can be applied after an assessment if there was a reason the learner may have been disadvantaged during the assessment.  For example, special consideration could apply to a learner who has temporarily experienced

  • an illness or injury, or
  • some other event outside the learner’s control which has had, or is reasonably likely to have had, a material effect on the learner’s ability to take an assessment or demonstrate his or her level of attainment in an assessment.

If the application for special consideration is successful, the learner’s performance will be reviewed in the light of available evidence.  Special consideration should not give the learner an unfair advantage; neither should its use cause the user of the award/certificate/diploma to be misled regarding a learner’s achievements. The learner’s result must reflect his / her achievement in the assessment and not necessarily his / her potential ability.

Special consideration, if successful, may lead to a small post-assessment adjustment to the learner’s results, but not necessarily so.  The size of the adjustment will depend on the circumstances and reflect the difficulty faced by the learner.

It should be noted that

  • where an assessment requires the learner to demonstrate practical competence or where criteria have to be met fully, or in the case of qualifications that confer a License to Practice, it may not be possible to apply special consideration;
  • in some circumstances, for example for on-demand assessments, it may be more appropriate to offer the learner an opportunity to take the assessment at a later date.

6.3 How to apply for a reasonable adjustment or special consideration

If it is necessary to make an application for a reasonable adjustment or special consideration on behalf of one or more learners, an application form should be completed. Forms for download (reproduced in Appendix 2) can be found at http://intranet.orms247.co.uk/ or on request from the Head of Administration via the contact details below.

It asks for details of each learner’s circumstances, evidence of any medical conditions and any other relevant information. This should be sent to ORMS’ Head of Administration depending on the nature of the reasonable adjustment required (see Appendix 1). Where ORMS is able to take the decision itself, it should keep all relevant documentation and evidence to allow the Standard Verifier to review the use of reasonable adjustments during a quality assurance visit.

Requests for reasonable adjustments should be submitted not less than 30 working days before any assessment. ORMS will acknowledge receipt within 2 working days and will aim to provide a decision within 10 working days. It may not be possible to respond within this timeframe if we need to call on specialist advice. In such cases, we will inform the applicant of the expected response time.

Requests for special consideration should be submitted not more than 5 working days after the planned or actual assessment date. ORMS will acknowledge receipt within 2 working days and will provide a decision within 5 working days.

Requests for special consideration may only be accepted after the results of assessment have been released in the following circumstances:

  • application has been overlooked at ORMS and the oversight is confirmed by the centre co-coordinator
  • medical evidence comes to light about a learner’s condition, which demonstrates that the learner must have been affected by the condition at the time of the assessment, even though the problem revealed itself only after the assessment
  • for onscreen assessments where results are immediately available.

6.4 How ORMS will deal with requests

All requests for reasonable adjustments and special consideration that need to be taken by ORMS or an external Awarding Body will be passed to the relevant Body who will take the decision using precedents, advice from Standard Verifiers, guidance published by the Federation of  Awarding Bodies and specialist advice from others where appropriate. ORMS and/or the Awarding Body will review all decisions to ensure fairness and comparability.

Where reasonable adjustments can be agreed by ORMS and/or the external Awarding Body, they will take the decision, if necessary after taking advice.

ORMS’ Standards Verifier will check on the application of the reasonable adjustment or special consideration on their next visit to the centre.

Appendix 1 – Reasonable adjustments permissions table

This table outlines some possible reasonable adjustments that can be made and who should take the decision.  However, ORMS has a duty to seek advice in any case where they are in doubt if an adjustment is needed or how it should be applied.


  • Centre – Reasonable adjustment permitted at the discretion of the centre
  • SV – Consult Standard Verifier for permission
  • EQA – Consult External Quality Advisor
  • AB – Apply to Awarding Body for permission
Reasonable adjustment Assessments NOT taken under examination conditions Assessments taken under examination conditions
Extra time up to  25% Centre EQA
Extra time in excess of  25% Centre AB
Supervised rest breaks Centre AB
Change in the organisation of assessment room Centre Centre
Separate accommodation within the centre Centre AB
Taking the assessment at an alternative venue Centre AB
Use of coloured overlays, low vision aids, tinted spectacles, CCTV and OCR scanners SV AB
Use of assistive software AB AB
Use of bilingual and bilingual translation dictionaries Centre Centre
Assessment Material in enlarged format Centre AB
Assessment material in Braille AB AB
Language modified assessment material EQA AB
Assessment material in BSL AB AB
Assessment material on coloured paper Centre Centre
Assessment material in audio format Centre EQA
Responses using electronic devices EQA EQA
Responses in BSL AB AB
Responses in Braille AB AB
Reader EQA EQA
Scribe EQA AB
BSL/English interpreter EQA AB
Prompter EQA AB
Practical assistant EQA AB
Transcriber EQA AB
Other AB AB

Appendix 2: Managing assignments that are marked through a VLE such as Moodle.

Students – regardless of their ability – are all expected to meet the set deadlines for assessed work. In the case of students who have a statement outlining their learning support needs, they will submit their work by the same deadline to the Administration Team who will treat the work as a Final Draft and pass it to an Academic Tutor for proof reading, spelling and grammar correction. This review of work is subject to the policy on draft submissions D1h: Policy on Draft Submissions

Once this is done, this will be passed back to the student for final agreement, before final submission.

Students are then required to submit the work within two working weeks of the original submission date to the Administrative Team who will upload it to Moodle / Turnitin for marking.