Assessment Experiences and Access Arrangements for Students with Social, Emotional or Mental Health Needs.

  • Andrew Mcloughlin

Student thesis: Doctor of Educational and Child Psychology


Thesis Abstract Background Examination awarding bodies allow students with specific needs to have access arrangements (AA) (reasonable adjustments) when completing formal assessments; this includes those with social, emotional or mental health (SEMH) needs. There is a paucity of research regarding assessment experiences and AA for students with SEMH needs; the present study seeks to address this gap in the literature. Methods/Participants Paper One describes a systematic literature review (SLR) exploring which methods of elicitation are effective for use with children and young people (CYP) with SEMH needs; 61 studies were critically appraised and synthesised. Paper Two is an empirical study, exploring the perceptions and experiences of CYP with SEMH needs in relation to formal assessment experiences; potentially helpful AA are also considered. An in-depth survey method was adopted; semi-structured interviews were undertaken with nine students (aged 14-15) identified as having externalising SEMH needs. Interviews were thematically analysed. Analysis/Findings: The findings of the SLR suggest that elements of structure (through questioning or integrated features/resources) may be supportive of elicitation for the SEMH population; the importance of flexibility in tailoring approaches to the individual is also outlined. Paper Two details student perceptions and experiences in relation to formal assessments across three main themes: The Exam Event; Preparation for the Exam; and Access Arrangements. Student views on potentially helpful AA are also detailed. Conclusion/Implications: Implications for education professionals are discussed. Considerations practitioners would be advised to make when eliciting the views of CYP with SEMH needs are detailed. The importance of involving students in the decisions made about how they access formal assessments is highlighted. Future research implications are considered, and a dissemination strategy is outlined.
Date of Award31 Dec 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorKevin Woods (Supervisor) & Caroline Bond (Supervisor)


  • social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs
  • child
  • views
  • review
  • access arrangements
  • examinations

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