This blog has been updated since last published on 30 March 2022.
In this blog, our Special Requirements Manager, Stuart Ross, talks about the ways to support students with diabetes during their exams.
It’s worth being aware that under equality laws diabetes is classed as a disability, and this means awarding bodies, schools and colleges are required to make reasonable adjustments to make sure students are not placed at a disadvantage compared with non-disabled students taking the same exam.
We also know how stressful the exam room can be and this stress can affect all students with diabetes – including those who are usually able to manage their diabetes successfully – so we’re keen to make sure students have all the support they need.
Before you apply for any support from the awarding bodies, it’s a good idea to meet with your student and their family to talk about the arrangements that can be put in place. Diabetes UK provides some useful guidance on their website to help with this, including a handy PDF guide.
There are two main types of help available to students with diabetes: access arrangements and special consideration.
Common adjustments for students with diabetes might include:
One of the most common questions we get asked is whether students can have access to their mobile phone during the exam.
It’s becoming increasingly common for students to need direct sight of their mobile phone to manage their diabetes (or any other chronic health condition) during their exam.
As mobile phones are obviously not allowed as standard, you can request approval for this by submitting an application via Access Arrangements Online and selecting ‘Access to a mobile phone for medical purposes’.
Access Arrangements Online will generate questions for you to answer regarding the use of the mobile phone and will approve or reject the application based on your responses. If the application is rejected and you would like us to review the decision made by the online system, you can refer it to us by clicking the blue ‘Send to awarding body’ button on the application outcome screen. Here you will be able to provide any further relevant details regarding the arrangement you need.
You could also consider whether you need to request access to Bluetooth headphones so the student can hear alerts without disturbing others.
We will then consider each referral on a case-by-case basis.
You don’t need to submit an application via Access Arrangements Online for supervised rest breaks – instead, your SENCo must provide written evidence confirming the need for them which may need to be produced for a JCQ Centre Inspector upon request. There’s more information in section 5.1 of the JCQ Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments booklet.
If students need to take drinks and snacks into the exam, this is covered by the standard JCQ arrangements (see section 18.2 of the JCQ Instructions for Conducting Examinations). Therefore, your centre can allow the student to have food and drink in their exam without seeking approval from the awarding body.
When planning for the exams, you need to consider where to room and seat your students. Some students may be able to be seated in the main room while others require the privacy of a separate room. This may also depend on the rooms you have available in your centre. Different options could include:
In all your planning, you need to consider how the arrangements will affect other candidates in the exam room.
Whatever arrangements you have in place, you need to make sure your invigilators are fully briefed and prepared.
If a student’s diabetes affects their performance at the time of the assessment, you can apply for special consideration using our online system, Special Consideration Online, which is accessed via Interchange.
If the student completed the exam despite being affected, the application should be for ‘Present but Disadvantaged’. You can select ‘flare up of a long-term condition’ as an option within the system.
If they were able to complete a very small amount of the exam, please apply for ‘Present but Disadvantaged’ and indicate how long they were in the exam. The Special Requirements team will consider all the factors and decide the most appropriate outcome they can put in place.
If the student was unable to take the exam, you can submit an ‘Absent’ special consideration application.
If you have any questions about supporting students with diabetes or any other access arrangements, please get in touch with our Special Requirements Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stuart Ross - Special Requirements Manager
Stuart oversees the team responsible for processing requests for access arrangements, reasonable adjustments and special consideration. He joined OCR in 2014 having previously taught students up to GCSE level with physical disabilities in the UK and taught English as a foreign language in Spain.