AAC Exams Access Working Group



What is AAC?

AAC supplements or replaces speech or writing for communication. AAC can take the form of low-tech communication systems such as pen and paper, objects, signing and books with pictures, symbols and/or text.

High-tech communication systems include systems that need some sort of power to work, for example, single or multiple message devices that you can record on to as well as other devices such as computers and tablets that can convert symbols, pictures and text to a voice output.


Why is the Working Group Needed?


Every child should have the right to demonstrate their academic ability using the most suitable access method.


Students using AAC may require independent access to tests and exams using a variety of access adaptations. The adaptations required will be unique to each individual student and must be reflect their normal way of working in the classroom.


This working group has begun to look at how these needs should inform exams access provision under the JCQ access arrangements and reasonable adjustments


The group is considering all other national testing guidelines and the impact they have on the young person on the access to all exams and testing from KS1 onwards for students who rely on AAC.


Aims of the Working Group

ü  To identify and share good practice for test and exams access across all key stages

ü  To produce a guide to good practice for schools on exams access arrangements for AAC users

ü  To engage with exams boards with a view to develop a shared agreement on appropriate access arrangements for students who rely on AAC

ü  To develop guidance for schools on developing normal ways of working that involve the easiest physical, time-efficient access and developing working-memory skills

ü  To produce guidance for special schools in developing programmes that may lead to students accessing assessment, testing and exams

ü  To look at alternative routes to gaining equivalent to national qualifications

ü  To promote good practice for access to testing and qualifications through study day seminars and conferences

ü  To provide training opportunities throughout the education system on AAC exams access.


(Hester Mackay - KM CAT, Marion Stanton and Saff Murphy-Mann- CandLE and Laura Baggley – Cornwall Council AAC team)




Exams Access Working Group


We are seeking expressions of interest in joining a small group of professionals who aim to work together for improvement in access to tests and exams for students who rely on AAC.


We are looking for a group of no more than 12 people to participate in the working group. In the unlikely event of more numbers showing an interest invitation will take into consideration the following:


·         Experience of successfully supporting students who rely on AAC through end of key stage tests and/or GCSE/GCSE equivalent.

·         The spread of professions and organisations participating.


When you email your expression of interest could you please let us have some information about your involvement with mainstream testing and exams as well as your current involvement in the AAC field. Please email your expression of interest to aacexamaccess@gmail.com


18th October 2018 – sharing good practice


Venue and times to be confirmed but likely to be: The Lift in Islington at 11 am and to finish by 4 pm. Lunch will be provided. Please, could participants indicate any dietary requirements in their responding email?

The aim of this day is to invite attendees to share experiences.

We need each participant to create a PowerPoint presentation, of no more than fifteen minutes duration, on the work they have done, to share on the day. Presentations need to be sent to: aacexamaccess@gmail.com by the 8th October.


We will need permission to share the information with relevant bodies. We may use information that we receive to negotiate with awarding bodies, share with others who are providing information or any other organisation who could help us to further our aims. Please ensure that you give permission in the email that accompanies your presentation.


Once presentations have been given the meeting will discuss common themes and innovations and begin to plan for collaboration with relevant bodies to take the project forward.


28th February 2019 – Developing Guidance


It is anticipated that there will be considerable groundwork completed through email and other forms of distance communication between the October 2018 meeting and this one. That work will form a basis for beginning to develop guidelines for access to tests and exams for students who rely on AAC.


This meeting will involve discussion around priorities for guidance and how it should be developed and distributed. We hope to have involved the awarding bodies and to have their presence at future meetings.


We are applying for funding to take this work forward.


At the February meeting we will:


·         examine any draft documents that have been previously circulated

·         confirm the aims of the working group

·         agree the content of future meetings

·         identify next steps

·         agree on tasks

·         agree dates of future meetings