What is a concession?
As a fundamental right in South Africa, everyone has the right to basic education and freedom from discrimination. Based on these rights, every learner in the country has the right not to be discriminated against in any form. For this reason, the Department of Education, as part of their policy, allows for certain concessions and accommodations during controlled test environments (examinations and tests). This is an attempt to equalise the barriers learners with certain permanent or temporary physical difficulties, or intrinsic specific learning difficulties may have.
Importantly, the granting of a concession is not to provide a person with an unfair advantage. Instead, it is provided to give a person an equal opportunity to live up to their full academic potential. This is especially relevant towards the end of a child’s high schools career, as the weighting of their marks in Grade 11 and 12 consists mostly of the end of year examinations.
To justify the granting of a concession the various education boards (e.g. IEB and DOE) in South Africa have specific requirements from the school and an educational psychologist to be given a concession or accommodation.
What is the process?
The concession application is generally made on behalf of a learner by the school. The school needs to provide objective evidence to the authoritative body that the child is currently facing an internal or external barrier that will disadvantage them during their examinations and tests.
As an educational psychologist, our role is to provide an objective opinion in the form of an educational psychological report to the school to forward it to the concession committee. Each body has its own specific requirements, and it is is the responsibility of the educational psychologist to ensure the report meets these requirements.
An educational psychological assessment needs to be booked, with an educational psychologist that has the necessary evaluations. This psycho-educational assessment should include a comprehensive outline and discussion of the assessed barrier to learning. This is done in through normed referenced educational and psychologist assessments. A detailed clinical history is also required.
Together with the educational psychological assessment of any relevant medical history reports, historical evidence of the barrier faced by the child, teacher comments, a school report and samples of the child’s schoolwork.
Types of concessions:
There are various types of concessions that a child can be granted. These include:
- Additional time
- Enlarged print
- Medication/ food intake
- Practical assistant
- Rephrased paper
- Rest breaks
- Separate venue
- Specific equipment
For a more comprehensive outline of each of these concessions, pages 6 & 7 of the IEB’s Policy and procedures: Accommodations Policy can be consulted.
If you feel that your child might be disadvantaged during their tests and examinations, they might benefit from being referred to an educational psychologist for a psycho-educational assessment. It is essential to keep an open dialogue with your child’s school to see if this might be a strategy to help equalise the academic barriers they are facing.
It is vital to start the process as early as possible, as this can sometimes be a timely process. A lot of families also leave the application very late, which adds unnecessary stress to a child’s Grade 12 year.