Title: The quality of GCSE exam papers in braille and modified large print
Authors: Kate Flynn, Sue Keil and Rory Cobb; Publisher: RNIB; Date of publication: 2016


Over many years RNIB has received anecdotal information from qualified teachers of children and young people with vision impairment (QTVI) about problems with the provision of GCSE exam papers in accessible formats for blind and partially sighted candidates. To get a better understanding of the scale and nature of the problem, in 2015, RNIB with the support of Ofqual and the four Awarding Organisations (AOs) carried out research on the accessibility of GCSE exam papers in braille and modified large print (MLP). The project comprised two stages: a survey of 94 QTVIs, teaching assistants and exam officers, and a quality assessment of 101 GCSE papers provided by four AOs.

Key findings

The majority of survey respondents had concerns about the provision of GCSE exam papers in accessible formats. Particular concerns were the poor availability of practice papers, confusions in the ordering process, and the quality of diagrams, maps and graphs. 
These concerns were supported by findings from the separate quality assessment of papers. Problems were found in the modification, layout and production of papers, indicating problems at all stages of the process. It is important to recognise that although problems were found with the papers sampled, there was also much good practice which can be built upon.
The report concluded with 10 recommendations aimed at ensuring greater consistency in the way that papers are modified and produced by AOs and ways in which schools prepare their students for external examinations; better quality assurance; and more transparency and clarity of information about the system of providing papers in accessible formats. 

Next steps

RNIB has met with Ofqual and the four AOs to discuss how we can work together to implement the recommendations. RNIB would like to thank Ofqual and the AOs for their support in carrying out this research and we look forward to working together collaboratively to address the issues that have been identified.