Exams while your child is having treatment

If your child has special educational needs due to their diagnosis that means they might be at a disadvantage for tests and exams, it may be possible for special arrangements to be made so that they are still on an equal footing to other pupils.

Access arrangements 

If your child has been diagnosed with cancer, they automatically meet the definition of ‘disabled’. This makes it a legal requirement for an awarding body – the exam board – to make sure they provide ‘reasonable adjustments’ for your child if needed. Read more about your child’s educational rights after diagnosis here. 

This means your child may be given special arrangements for exams so they’re not at a disadvantage compared to other pupilsThese are called Access Arrangements.   

Examples of Access Arrangements include:  

  • extra time to complete the exam 
  • someone to read (a reader) or write (a scribe) for them  
  • taking the exam in hospital or in a separate room at school 
  • supervised rest breaks if your child has fatigue or other side effects of treatment.  

If you think your child needs special arrangements for exams due to their diagnosis, you need to make an application to the Joint Council for Qualifications (JQC), which is the governing body for all exam boards in the UK. Any applications need to be made to the JQC well in advance of any exams. You can find guidance on special arrangements from JQC here.

It’s important that you talk to staff and the examinations officer at your child’s school who will be able to discuss this with you and help you make an application if appropriate. You’ll need medical evidence, such as a letter from your child’s consultant explaining the situation. 

Special consideration 

Your child may also be able to receive what is known as ‘special consideration’. This is a grade adjustment after an exam to reflect an illness or ‘indisposition’ at the time of the exam – for example, if a candidate was having chemotherapy on the day of the exam or immediately before it. 

The examinations officer at your child’s school should be fully aware of this and can apply to the exam board on your behalfAs medical evidence will normally need to be written by your child’s hospital consultant, you may need to speak to your treatment team about this. The school will use this to support their application for special consideration. 

You can find out more information about special arrangements for tests or exams from Contact.  

You can read more about communicating with your child’s school here. 

Do you need more information and advice about education? Young Lives vs Cancer has partnered with Contact, the charity for families with disabled children, who can offer specialist advice on a range of issues including education and learning support.  

You can find out more about how to get in touch with Contact here 

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