Special Educational Needs Policy

Prince Andrew High School


General Overview

Prince Andrew High School’s IB Special Educational Needs Policy is based on the Halifax Regional School Board’s Special Education Policy. Support for students with special needs is built on the practice of inclusive schooling.  Implementation of programming for students with special needs occurs within the regular (peer group) classroom. 

Our Provincial Department of Education promotes student access to the IB Diploma, or IB certificate(s) without fees, formal applications, or entrance testing.  Students with special educational needs are encouraged to participate in the IB programme. The Nova Scotia Department of Education recognizes and endorses the basic right of all students to full and equal participation in education.[1] 



Halifax Regional School Board defines students with special needs as those whose needs are such that they require supports in addition to those provided by a classroom teacher.[2] Educational funding may be used for students with the following exceptionalities:

·        Cognitive impairments

·        Emotional impairments

·        Learning disabilities

·        Physical disabilities and or other health impairments

·        Speech impairments and or communication disorders

·        Sensory impairments – vision, hearing

·        Multiple disabilities

·        Giftedness[3]


Our school has an extensive School Planning Team (SPT) in place to support learning.  The principal is responsible for ensuring that there is a collaborative structure in place for decision-making regarding the use of school-based resources and services. The Halifax Regional School Board provides qualified personnel to assist schools in the identification of students with special needs through assessment and evaluation.[4] Personnel available to support students with special needs include: classroom teachers, resource teachers, guidance counsellors, administration, learning centre teachers, educational program assistants, school psychologists, school speech and language pathologists, sign language interpreters, severe learning disability specialists and other specialists. 

Differentiated Support

Our school recognizes the value of differentiated learning for students with special needs. Differentiated strategies enable students to meet outcomes or to have learning outcomes extended. The manipulation of additional variables such as time, organization, and evaluation techniques will also be necessary to meet diverse student needs.  However, specific individualized adaptations may become necessary to enable a student to meet curriculum outcomes. Adaptations are defined as strategies, and or resources to accommodate the learning needs of an individual student. They are planned, implemented, and evaluated to enable a student to achieve the public school curriculum outcomes.[5] 

Students enrolled in the IB Programme work towards achieving the assessment objectives as described in each of the subject guides.  It is recognized that these objectives cannot be changed.  Special arrangements for exams can be made if the student meets the criteria as laid out by the International Baccalaureate Organization in the document “Candidates with Special Assessment Needs.” 

Accommodations for Assessment

Our school follows Section 4 of the IBO Candidates with Special Assessment Needs document.  A formal request for special arrangements must be submitted to the IBO at least 12 months prior to the student writing the exam.  Supporting documentation, such as a medical certificate, must accompany the request. 

This document outlines the characteristics of students who may require special assessment arrangements due to one or more of the following:[6]

·        Specific learning issues, language and communication disorders

·        Social, emotional and behavioural issues

·        Physical and sensory conditions

·        Medical conditions

·        Mental health issues


The following are a list of arrangements that may be granted once IB has reviewed the required documentation:[7]

·        Additional time – usually 25% more time is allowed for the candidate, which gives them 15 extra minutes for every hour of exam time.

·        Rest periods – supervised rest time may be allowed, during which time the candidate is not allowed to work on their exam.

·        Information and communication technology – a computer could be used to type the answers to the exam instead of handwriting the answers.  The student cannot use any software that would give the candidate an unfair advantage during the exam.  Voice-activated technology or augmentative speech equipment can be requested when this has been the candidate’s normal way of working in the school.

·        Scribes – a person who writes down dictated answers from the candidate.

·        Readers – a person who reads aloud the questions to the candidate and can also read back answers the candidate has provided.  The reader cannot explain a question or give advice on how to answer the question.

·        Communicators – a person who is able to convey information to a candidate with a hearing impairment, through the use of lip-speaking, finger-spelling or sign language.

·        Prompters – a person who ensures that a candidate is paying attention to the examination.  This would normally be authorized for candidates diagnosed as having a neurological or cognitive disability resulting from a severe attention problem.

·        Modifications to examination papers – normally made for candidates with hearing or visual issues, such as providing an exam in Braille, enlarged print, printing on coloured paper, modifications to the visual complexity of the exam or modifications to the language of the exam paper.

·        Audio recordings of examination papers – the IB may provide an exam paper on a CD.  This is a limited service and is not available for exams with illustrations, tables, diagrams or sketch maps.

·        Audio recordings of responses to examination papers – The candidate dictates answers into an appropriate recording technology.  This is used when a scribe is not available and cannot be used for examinations in Groups 1 and 2 or with examinations that require the candidate to produce visual material such as an illustration, table, diagram or sketch map.

·        Transcriptions – A candidate’s response to an assessment component is submitted in a form other than the candidate’s own handwriting.  Transcription is justified when a candidate with a specific learning issue, or a physical disability, has very poor handwriting skills and cannot use a computer.  Transcription is not available to candidates with poor handwriting for whom some form of special need cannot be diagnosed.

·        Alternative venues for examinations – if a candidate is too ill to attend school, but on medical advice is able to take the examinations at home or in hospital, authorization may be given for the examination to be taken at an alternative venue.  In principle, the examination should be taken at the same time as other candidates in the group.  A qualified invigilator must be present.

·        Extensions to deadlines – this arrangement applies to cases of illness or accident when a candidate is genuinely prevented from completing work in time for the coordinator to submit the work to the examiner.

·        Assistance with practical work – if a candidate has a physical disability, assistance with practical work can be requested.  This arrangement is normally confined to the requirements of internal assessment (for example, practical work in experimental science or geography fieldwork).  It is particularly suited to situations where there is a concern for a candidate’s health or safety.

·        Exemptions from assessments – exemptions are not normally granted for any assessment component of the Diploma Programme.  However, if an assessment component or part demands a physiological function that a candidate is not able to perform, an exemption may be authorized. 


Prince Andrew High recognises its responsibility to determine whether accommodations can be made for individual candidates and that all such accommodations must be in agreement with IB policy. We understand that applications for special arrangements have specific requirements and may need appropriate supporting documentation. We will ensure that all special arrangements comply with Section 4 of the Candidates with Special Assessment Needs document.




[1] Nova Scotia Special Education Policy, p. 3 2008.

[2] Halifax Regional School Board Special Education Policy, p 1 2001

[3] Ibid.

[4] Halifax Regional School Board Special Education Policy, p 2 2001

[5] Nova  Scotia Special Education Policy, p 32 2008.

[6] IBO Candidates with Special Assessment Needs, p3, 2012

[7] IBO Candidates with Special Assessment Needs, p10-21, 2012