Autumn 2 Newsletter  | November 2019 Issue 16
Supporting staff and students to achieve their full potential
(Est. 1968)

Dear CENMAC Community,

As we fast approach the end of the first term we wanted to share some information about exam access. Many of the technologies and software we provide students are able to be adapted and used in exams but usually only when this is the normal way of working and when this has been requested in advance. It’s a good time to make those preparations so we hope the below links are helpful. Please do ask if you would like further support in this area.

We have attended a number of events over this last term and would like to share some of the new technologies and organisations that have impressed us. We will try and add one or two new links each newsletter. This edition is Mentally Healthy Schools (see article below). 

Please make a note of 14 May 2020 for Communication Works 2020. Next year we are thrilled to have The Ace Centre and the New Bridge School running the first Communication Works event for the North on 21 May 2020. We look forward to working collaboratively on these two very exciting Assistive Technology in Education events.

training widgit symbolAlso can you help us with a training venue? We are looking to extend the range of training sessions we offer, but are in need of training venues in the various London boroughs we work within. Please email us at: if you would like to be a training venue for CENMAC.

Many Thanks,

Kathryn Stowell
Team Leader

Mentally Healthy Schools

Web banner of child holding mentally healthy school sign

Mentally Healthy Schools provides lots of information on children’s mental health – from how to spot the signs that a child may be struggling, to understanding the factors that may increase the risk of poor mental health. The site also offers hundreds of free, practical resources that have been quality assured by experts – these can help to promote good mental health for both staff and pupils.


Explore mental health resources


Becoming a mentally healthy school

Take a look at these 10 steps aimed at teachers and senior leaders to help staff feel informed in the decisions that they make:


TES SEN Show 2019

Three women at CENMAC stand at tes sen 2019

CENMAC were excited to meet so many of you at the recent TES SEN show.  We always enjoy the opportunity to find out about new and established assistive technology and it was a busy show with lots of great tech to see and try out.  Welcome to our new newsletter subscribers who signed up at the event.

Sign up here:

exam widgit symbolUsing Word Processors in Examinations – Secondary Schools/Colleges  

If a student uses a word processor as their normal way of working then the JCA regulations state that they should use a word processor in their examinations. 

See the quote from:

JCA - Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments 2019-20 

“if a word processor (with the spelling and grammar check disabled) is the candidate’s normal way of working within the centre, then it should be used in examinations in order to encourage independent working and access to marks awarded for spelling, punctuation and grammar. (See section 5.8, page 51). A scribe must only be used where a candidate is not sufficiently competent or confident in using a word processor with the spelling and grammar check or predictive text facility disabled (switched off)"

Exam Access Arrangements and Assistive Technology – Secondary schools/Colleges 
Exam access arrangements for May / June 2020 must be submitted by 31 January 2020
(Modified Papers) and 21 February ( all other arrangements)  

Permitted access arrangements include:  

  •  5.5 Computer reader 
  •  5.6 use of an examination reading pen  
  •  5.7 Speech recognition technology 
  •  5.8  Word processor  

Exam Access Arrangements for Primary Schools  

Please note – arrangements for 2020 will be published in December 2019. 

If a pupil will use a word processor or other technical or electronic aid in the Key Stage 2 SATS examinations then a notification must be submitted in advance.  This year’s date was 24 May.  

If a pupil uses a word processor as their normal way of working in class then they should use a word processor in their examinations.  

“Before deciding to use a scribe, schools should consider whether the pupil should use a word processor or making a transcript of the pupil’s writing after the test. A scribe should only be used if other options are not appropriate and if it is part of normal classroom practice for that pupil” 

Schools must ensure that any functionality that would give the pupil an unfair advantage must be turned off.  

“If it is normal classroom practice, pupils may use word processors or other technical or electronic aids in the tests, provided the functionality does not give the pupil an unfair advantage. Schools must test the functionality of the equipment by using the KS2 practice materials. If there is functionality that cannot be turned off that would provide the pupil with an unfair advantage, the pupil must not use the equipment in the test. The school may arrange for the test to be read to the pupil or for a scribe to record the pupil’s answers instead. Schools are responsible for ensuring that pupils regularly save their work. Pupils are not allowed to restart a test and STA will not compensate, or give special consideration, if work is lost. Any partially completed tests must be sent for marking” 

Word processors can be used in English grammar , punctuation and spelling tests.  

"Mathematics and English grammar, punctuation and spelling : 

Pupils may use word processors or other technical or electronic aids during the mathematics and English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests provided that:  

• it is normal classroom practice and schools have evidence to show this  

• the equipment does not read mathematical symbols in the mathematics tests or punctuation in the English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests  

• any spell check function is turned off for the English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests  

• the equipment is used on a one to one basis, preferably in a separate room to the rest of the cohort” 

And in the English Reading Tests  

“English reading  

Word processors or other technical or electronic aids may be used to record pupils’ answers in the English reading test. They must not be used to provide reading support, other than to read the general instructions on page 3 of the reading answer booklet”  

Text (c)  

Reading Workshop at Charlton Park Academy

Workshop - group of people

Importance of Reading: We are looking forward to offering Reading Wise, an online reading intervention, after a successful trial. 

Zoe our English Advisory Teacher and Caroline Fielding (Charlton Park Academy's librarian) held a workshop for parents/carers on 'How to share a story with your child and support them to develop key reading skills' . Parents/carers found the workshop really helpful and were able to discuss their thoughts during the break out sessions.

scanning pen with bookC-Pen Exam Reader Pens - Primary/Secondary/Colleges

The exam reader/scanning pen can be used in an examination instead of a human reader.  The website  has a useful tool to calculate the cost savings of using reader pens in examinations.  

The examination boards that have approved the use of the exam reader pen are listed below.  

Joint Council for Qualifications – JCQ (AQA, OCR, PEARSON, CITY & GUILDS, CEA, WJEC CBAC) 

September 2016 - This is a centre delegated arrangement. It must be the candidate's normal way of working in class and/or mock examinations. No evidence required. It can be used in the reading section of English GCSE where a human reader isn't allowed. 

Cambridge International Examinations – CIE 

September 2016 - A computer reader or reading pen is a Group 2 AA and is centre delegated. Use Form 4 to notify CIE of students who use the pen. Reading pens are allowed in the English GCSE reading section. A permitted examination reading pen will not have an in-built dictionary or thesaurus, or data storage facility. All pens must be checked before the examination to ensure they comply with these requirements. 

Key Stage 2 SATS 

The Exam Reader Pen is allowed in to be used in Key Stage 2 SATs, without prior permission, as long as it is: 

  • normal classroom practice and schools have evidence to show this 

  • the equipment is used on a one-to-one basis, preferably in a separate room to the rest of the cohort 

It is not allowed for the English Reading section. 

Scottish Qualifications Authority - SQA 

October 2016 - Under current SQA guidance, a center would need to submit a request to SQA for a candidate to be allowed to use a Reader Pen (this is a pen without a dictionary or storage) in an external examination.  

International Baccalaureate – IB 

March 2017 – Apply to IB for authorisation 

International Baccalaureate Career Related Programme

October 2016 - For the internal assessment 'speech functions' are permitted which can include digital reader pens. 

Common Entrance - CE 

Common Entrance recommends JCQ regs are followed, but also asks junior schools to check with the child's potential senior school. 

National Open College Network – NOCN 

December 2015 - NOCN would consider allowing the reader pen to be used if it is the normal way of working for an individual. 

City & Guilds 

The Exam Reader Pen can be used without prior permission from City & Guilds. 

Functional Skills 

An Exam Reader Pen is permitted without prior approval.  

Business and Technology Education Council – BTEC 

Follows JCQ Regulations – see above 

Text (c)

Docs Plus

Docs Plus is the secondary focused product from Crick Software.  They have produced a useful guide to using Docs Plus in examinations  

Communication Works 2020 logo

Levelling the Playing Field for all Learners
Save the dates! Communication Works 2020 South (London) Thursday 14 May and North (Oldham) Thursday 21 May.

Word Q Speak Q Exam Mode 

WordQSpeakQ has an exam mode which allows features of the software to be turned off.  This includes:  

  • Options menu 
  • Abbreviation-expansion 
  • Pronunciation exceptions 
  • Synonyms 
  • Word List following the cursor (Note: the Word list must be manually positioned) 
  • Predictive phrases 
  • Next word prediction 

For further information about using WordQ in exams please see our ‘Exams and AT’ page at 



Woman looking at computer screen

Our recent Clicker 7 training on 8 October was very successful with 13 teachers and TAs learning about and practicing using Clicker 7 software. 

For the next training dates please see our training calendar at  If you do not see the training that you want for yourself or you school please contact your CENMAC advisory teacher or contact us at


Join us ...
Advisory Teacher for Assistive Technology in Education

At Charlton Park Academy we pride ourselves on the quality of education we provide for our students and the opportunities we create to encourage and develop their communication and independence skills.

We are seeking to recruit a talented teacher who is collaborative, flexible, friendly and a highly motivated team player to support and develop our Assistive Technology Advisory Service CENMAC. A strategic and independent thinker is required to help us continue to improve our advisory service. Read more …

To request an application pack and job description, please contact
Linda Charlesworth.


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