HC Deb 07 November 2000 vol 356 cc198-9W
Mr. Boswell

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what consultations he has held with(a) the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, (b) awarding bodies, (c) representatives of disability organisations and (d) others in connection with the early availability and special preparation of papers and tests for pupils who are blind or who have a visual impairment. [137036]

Jacqui Smith

Officials of the DfEE regularly consult with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), which develops the National Curriculum Key Stage assessments on behalf of the Secretary of State, over the preparation and design of the tests. As part of this test development process, the QCA ensures that advice on the appropriateness of test materials for pupils with special assessment requirements is sought froma range of organisations dealing with Special Educational Needs, including the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB); teachers working with pupils with a range of special assessment needs, including visual impairment; advisory groups in Special Educational Needs appointed by the QCA; an agency with specific expertise in developing test materials for visually impaired pupils.

In addition, for those pupils for whom access to the standard tests is difficult, the QCA produces braille, modified large print and enlarged versions of the tests. Further modifications can be approved by the QCA such as copying onto coloured paper.

Schools ordering the statutory National Curriculum Key Stage tests in braille, modified large print and enlarged versions are able to tailor their orders to meet their pupil's exact requirements.

The awarding bodies which develop the GCE, VCE, GCSE, and GNVQ examinations regularly consult with organisations, such as the RNIB, on arrangements for blind and visually impaired candidates. The awarding bodies' special arrangements already allow for the provision of Braille papers and manual Braillers for candidates who are blind or who have a visual impairment. Additional time is also granted to such candidates to allow them to access questions and present responses.