We know how challenging it can be to accommodate candidates who need separate invigilation – it means finding additional invigilators and extra rooms at a time when these are at a premium. We’re also aware the number of requests for separate invigilation due to exam anxiety is increasing. So, we thought it would be helpful to confirm when separate invigilation can be awarded.

The regulations on separate invigilation are available in the JCQ Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments booklet, which can be downloaded from the JCQ website – https://www.jcq.org.uk/exams-office/access-arrangements-and-special-consideration/regulations-and-guidance/

The decision to award separate invigilation is a centre decision. You don’t need to submit an application using Access Arrangements Online and no evidence is needed to support the arrangement for inspection purposes. However, general anxiety or nervousness about sitting examinations are not sufficient grounds for separate invigilation.

Separate invigilation within the centre is awarded where a candidate has a substantial and long-term impairment. For example, the candidate has a long-term medical condition, a long-term psychological condition or long-term social, emotional and mental health needs.

To award separate invigilation:

  • The SENCo, or the relevant member of the senior leadership team, must be satisfied that the candidate’s substantial and long-term impairment has an adverse effect when they sit internal tests and mock examinations in the main examination hall/room.
  • The candidate’s difficulties must be well established. They must be known to relevant staff – Form Tutor, Head of Year and those with pastoral responsibilities.
  • Separate invigilation must reflect the candidate’s current and normal way of working.

In addition, candidates who need to use a Communication Professional, a Language Modifier, a Practical Assistant, a prompter, a scribe or a word processor may need to be accommodated in another room, away from the main examination room, in which case separate invigilation will be needed.

For candidates who need to use a reader, including a computer reader, you need to make sure the candidate and reader can’t be overheard by, or distract, other candidates. This means they may require separate invigilation – either on their own or as a group where three or four candidates are sharing a reader.

There may also be other reasons when separate invigilation is appropriate. For example, where a candidate’s behaviour would have a detrimental effect on other candidates if they were seated in the main exam room or to manage a medical condition such as diabetes in privacy.

To manage your separate invigilation requirements successfully, effective communication between the exams officer and the SENCo is key. Liaise with your SENCo so you know which candidates have been awarded access arrangements well in advance so you can plan your room and invigilation requirements accordingly.

This blog was first published in May 2022.

About the author

Nick Lait is Head of Examination Services at the Joint Council for
Qualifications (JCQ), where his responsibilities encompass producing the
various JCQ documents relating to examination administration, such as
the JCQ publication Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments
and Instructions for conducting examinations, as well as producing the
November and June examination timetables.

Nick provides on-going advice and guidance to schools and colleges,
predominately on access arrangements, working with key stakeholders to provide update sessions each Autumn for SENCos and assessors. He has a thorough knowledge of the examination administration system having previously worked with Edexcel for 11 years from 1996 – 2007 in both UK and International exam operations.