Candy Clarkson MA(Ed)

SpLD Specialist Assessor

Our Diary and Feedback from Schools

Access Arrangements for the Academic Year 2020 - 2021

Summer Term Week 1

Week beginning 19th April, 2021
We will be back to work this term! 

April and July are fully booked but we do still have some availability in May and June and most look forward to hearing from you.

Spring Term

4th January to 31st March 2021
Covid 19. We are in lockdown and so all assessment work has stopped.   Bookings made this term have been prioritised for next term.

Autumn Term Week 14

Week beginning 14th December 2020

A question has arisen from one on my SENCOs.  Would I recommend SPaRCS as a screening or diagnostic tool?  Here are my first thoughts:


1. Application for a Reader: SENCO file notes for readers are completed on the basis of evidence from staff of ‘Normal Way Of Working’. A formal assessment is currently unnecessary. It is, therefore, difficult to see what the usefulness of SPaRCs can be for application for a reader, as it is unlikely to be able to tell teaching staff anything that they don’t already know, with which to evidence NWOW.


2. Application for a Scribe: The application of SPaRCS to return a below average single word spelling score with indecipherable errors, is only of very limited usefulness, when the overwhelming majority of applications for a scribe are based on performance on a Free Writing task; which SPaRCS does not offer. A cheaper alternative to the student response booklet being the WRAT5 Single Word Spelling at the cost of one piece of feint ruled, A4 paper per student.


3. Application for Extra Time: PATOSS Helpline confirms that for the purposes of Form 8 Part 2, the Reading Comprehension Speed test does not provide a test of reading speed or reading fluency. Neither does it provide a test of writing speed or comprehensive tests of cognitive processing. It does provide a limited assessment of cognitive processing for screening, a cheaper alternative to which, being the DASH Alphabet Writing.


4. SPaRCS seems to have little, if any, application for completing Form 8 Part 1, as this is normally fully accounted for by pupil tracking data and staff reports of NWOW.


As the SPaRCS student response booklet retails at £3.00 per student, to which you have to factor in the time and cost of the man hours (and possibly qualified assessor if the tests are to be repeated to be used to complete for Form 8 Part 2) needed to deliver, score and report the results, in terms of time, cost and usefulness, my question is, therefore, how ‘suitable’ is SPaRCS as either a screening or diagnostic tool for access arrangements?


I am looking forward to the PATOSS webinar on 12th January to find out.


Update.  Sadly, despite my questions and concerns being put in writing, directly to Education Elephant and through PATOSS before, during and after the webinar, they have yet to respond....

Autumn Term Week 13

Week beginning 7th December 2020

Return to a large academy in London's East End, to screen a group of 34 students, who missed testing last week due to being out of school.  Then to individually assess the 60 students selected by our screening and agreed by the SENCO.  Although 2 days were originally allocated for this task, with the support of the SEN team who kept the students coming and made sure that all those who needed a Form 8 completed and signed their data protection forms, we managed to see them all in one day.  'Was this a record?', asked the delighted SENCO.  I thought for a bit and agreed that yes, I think that it probably was.  Then home to complete the Form 8s, update the spreadsheet with the JCQ and centre granted access arrangements requested.  Also to compile and send a folder of templates of SENCO file notes, for those students with a clinical diagnosis of anything other than a SpLD and/or who need a reader or supervised rest breaks.  Looking forward to returning in January for a 'mop up day'.

Autumn Term Week 12

Week beginning 30th November 2020

Visit to a semi-rural Berkshire independent, to spend time with the SENCO, see 2 students for assessment for access arrangments and complete their Form 8s; one free of charge, for a student for whom I am completing a Full Diagnostic Assessment for DSA.  Then in complete contrast, on to a large academy in London's East End, to spend 2 days serially screening their bubble groups of 92 KS4 and 127 KS5 students.  It will be so good when COVID is over and we can go back to screening students en masse, in the sports/exam hall, as it will save us all so much time.  Looking forward to returning next week, to screen the remaining bubbles of KS4 and individually assess the students selected from our screening process, as approved and put forward by the SENCO.

Autumn Term Week 11

Week beginning 23rd November 2020

Trip up to a Yorkshire secondary school to group test and then individually assess 68 pre-screened KS4 and KS5 students.  Supported by an incredibly friendly, helpful and efficient team of LSAs and Exams Officer, we assessed them all in 2 days, with one further day spent to do up the Form 8s and spreadsheet of access arrangements recommended, complete with advice notes.

Autumn Term Week 10

Week beginning 16th November 2020

Return to a Berkshire comprehensive, to see the 73 students screened and agreed by the SENCO as needing individual assessments.  In 2 days, we completed 53 individual assessments, leaving the rest to join a 'mop up day' in the Spring term.  This left the rest of the week for me to do up the Form 8s to date, attend a 2-day PATOSS webinar on assessing ADHD and complete 2 full diagnostic assessments for private clients.

Autumn Term Week 9

Week beginning 9th November 2020

Visit to a small, independent, London college to screen Year 9 and Key Stages 4 and 5 in their individual year groups and then see those students identified as needing individual assessment.


'Candy came to our college and worked with tremendous efficiency. She managed to screen 80 students and do 31 individual assessments within 2 days.  She worked with absolute professionalism and it was clear that she has a very thorough knowledge of the processes.  She had a lovely, kind but firm manner with the students. I would definitely recommend her.'  Vice Principal and SENCO


Then on to a London Academy to screen their Year 11.  Again, with the help of a fantastically efficient assistant SENCO, all completed with 2 days, with one further day spent completing all the Form 8s, advice notes and the spreadsheet of screening results and access arrangements recommended.


We were very impressed with Candy's efficiency, professionalism and manner when working with our students. She screened 105 students, of which she individully assessed 28, returning the completed Forms 8s with the appropriate paperwork and advice, all within 3 days. We look forward to working with Candy in the future.Thanks again, SENCO London Academy

Autumn Term Week 8

Week beginning 2nd November 2020

Return to a Berkshire comprehensive, a much admired and long-standing client,  to screen the Year 10 group of 210 students.  We did this in 2 sittings in the exam/sports hall, wiping down the desks and back of chairs with disinfectant between each sitting.  We then individually assessed 18 pre-screened KS5 students, for whom the paperwork had not been made available from previous schools to enable rollover applications.  Looking forward to going back in 2 week's time, to see the 73 Year 10s indicated by screening and agreed by the SENCO as needing further, individual assessment.


Return to a lovely Berkshire independent, also a long-standing client, to assess a complex case for access arrangements, complete Form 8 and report back to the SENCO and the parents.


Then last night down at the pub before lockdown!

Autumn Term Week 7

Week beginning 19th October, 2020

A day trip to a Kent secondary school.  11 prescreened students group tested and then seen individually.  The  spreadsheet of group screening test results, with JCQ and centre-granted access arrangements requested, along with completed Form 8s given to the SENCO.  There followed a close sharing of experiences about the role of the SENCO, discussing training opportunities to gain the Level 7 and selecting a bank of useful resources to make the complete process of assessment for access arrangements efficient and effective.


'As a new SENCo I was very worried about organising the Access Arrangements for our current year 11.  Candy was so helpful throughout the process, from the initial assessment of our students to guiding me through the Form 8 and Concise Note process.  Thank you so much, Candy'.  SENCO

Autumn Term Week 6

Week beginning 12th October, 2020
Delightful return visit to a Berkshire college, ably assisted by a wonderful SEN Administrator.  We group tested 48 prescreened students in the exam/sports hall and then individually assessed them for application for access arrangements.  Completed Form 8s and the spreadsheet detailing JCQ and centre granted access arrangements recommended were then submitted.  All completed in 2 days.


Thought for the day: What exactly is it, that https://www.gl-assessment.co.uk/products/exact/ (Formerly known as 'LUCID Exact') can possibly do, that a Specialist Assessor couldn't easily do more cheaply, efficiently and effectively?

Autumn Term Week 5

Week beginning 5th October, 2020

A two day visit to a London academy.  34 prescreened students group tested and then seen individually.  The  spreadsheet of group screening test results, with JCQ and centre-granted access arrangements requested, all completed Form 8s and lastly, a report for a student requiring 50% extra time to support the SENCO`s application to the Awarding Bodies, were all then emailed to the very appreciative Exams Officer and SENCO.  Looking forward to going back to the school, for one day in the Spring Term, to see the students who missed testing due to being out of school.


'Hi, thanks so much for your work this week. We were so impressed. It’s so good to have a real expert. We will certainly book you in at some point to mop up the other year 10s. Those year 10s are one of are toughest classes. Our headteacher was impressed too when you shhhed her!'  SENCO

(Ooooops!)

Autumn Term Week 4

Week beginning 28th September, 2020

Having spent the summer in lockdown and fully preparing for the academic year ahead, we took a much needed holiday in the wet and windy wilds of Dartmoor.


October is now fully booked and our diary is filling up fast. There are still some spaces left in the second half of Autumn term and in the Spring term, up to the JCQ extended deadline of 31st March.

Autumn Term Week 3

Week beginning 21st September 2020
Our first assignment this academic year, was a 2-day return visit to a London Academy.


With COVID-19 restrictions in place, how did we do it?


Students could only be group tested in their bubbles and seated 2 metres apart, so we sanitised the desks between each classroom sitting and gave out box fresh pens and paper.


For individual assessments, all students wore masks and hand sanitized on arrival.  Reading materials were presented in a vinyl folder, each page in its own plastic sleeve and wiped down after each use.  After exchange of written papers, sanitizer was used again.


23 prescreened students were seen, of which 13 required a completed Form 8 and the rest a SENCO file note or centre granted arrangements only.


'Candy, Thank you so much for your expertise over the past two days.'  SENCO