Section 96(7) Equality Act 2010

Specifications on Reasonable Adjustments in National Qualifications in Scotland

Section 96(7) of the Equality Act 2010 gives SQA as the appropriate regulator of general qualifications in Scotland a power to specify and publish where ‘reasonable adjustments’ to National Qualifications should not be made. Reasonable adjustments are steps taken to avoid a disadvantage to a disabled person. The relevant General Qualifications in Scotland covered by section 96 of the Equality Act 2010 are:

SQA consulted on its proposals to exercise this power. Having carefully considered the responses to the consultation, SQA is making a small number of specifications as set out below. They are also listed in the report on the outcome of the consultation (305 KB).

Curriculum for Excellence

National Courses that were developed under the Curriculum for Excellence programme were reviewed for accessibility following SQA’s Equality Review of Qualifications Process. Consideration of the reasonable adjustments which could be made to provide access to SQA qualifications for disabled learners was part of this process.

Where barriers for disabled learners were identified, consideration was given to whether these barriers could be removed or their adverse impact mitigated by the provision of reasonable adjustments. In some National Qualifications, a small number of adjustments were considered to be inappropriate because they compromised specific assessment objectives (i.e. the skills, knowledge and understanding being assessed by the qualification) and therefore undermined the meaning and value of the qualification.

Adjustments which cannot be made

Specifying and publishing these adjustments which cannot be made will provide clarity and certainty for candidates, parents, centres and others using the qualifications and will be helpful for candidates in making appropriate qualification choices.

In making the specifications set out in this document, SQA has taken account of:

SQA will continue to consider individual requests for other reasonable adjustments, determining what adjustments might be reasonable based on individual need and on the need to maintain the integrity of the qualification.

The specifications will be kept under regular review.


All of the specifications will come into effect from August 2013.

Specification 1 - Course Assessment

In relation to National Courses at National 5 to Advanced Higher, exemption of an assessment component which comprises 30% or more of the total Course assessment will not be a reasonable adjustment.

Note — An assessment component refers to one of the seven agreed assessment methods in a Course assessment; they are assignment, case study, performance, practical activity, project, portfolio, question paper.
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Specification 2 - Set Question Papers

In relation to National Courses at National 5 to Advanced Higher, the explanation of words or questions to candidates in a SQA-set question paper will not be a reasonable adjustment. Find out more...

Specification 3 - Literacy Units

In relation to the National Literacy Units at all levels: (i) exemption from demonstrating any of the four assessed skills of reading, writing, listening or talking will not be a reasonable adjustment and (ii) using human readers and scribes will not be reasonable adjustments where reading and writing abilities are being explicitly assessed. Find out more...

Specification 4 - Modern Languages & Gaelic Learners

In relation to National Units and Courses in Modern Languages and Gaelic (Learners) at all levels, human scribes or speech-recognition software will not be reasonable adjustments where the ability to write with technical accuracy in the target language is being explicitly assessed.

Note — Human scribes may be used in situations where the candidate is physically unable to write but is able to dictate and spell out words in the target language, letter by letter. Find out more...

Specification 5 - British Sign Language

In relation to National Units and Courses in Gàidhlig, Gaelic (Learners) and Modern Languages at all levels, using British Sign Language (BSL) to demonstrate reading, writing, talking or listening abilities in the particular language being assessed will not be a reasonable adjustment. Find out more...

Specification 6 - Communication Units

In relation to National Core Skills Communication Units and to National Certificate Communication Units, exemption from demonstrating abilities in reading, writing, listening or speaking will not be a reasonable adjustment.
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