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Medical Certificate Requests from Schools/Colleges Relating to Public Examinations and Letter Templates

Updated on 31 May 2016, 1720 views

Those of us who have had children sit GCSE and A level examinations are well aware of how stressful this time is, and how important the results may be for the young person concerned, so it is not surprising that parents or schools sometimes turn to the GP for medical evidence if a young person is unable to take an examination, or may have significantly underperformed.

Providing information for schools or parents about pupils who are absent from examinations, or who potentially underperform in them for medical reasons, is not an NHS service, so practices may levy a charge for doing so.  It is not uncommon for a GP to be approached for information about, in the words of the Joint Council for Qualifications, “adverse circumstances affecting exam performance, controlled assessment or coursework”.  However, the circumstances under which it is appropriate to do so are pretty limited.

In 2014 Nick Lait,  the Senior Manager, Examination Services, at the JCQ told the LMC

“The issue you are raising with the JCQ is not new and QCA, the former qualifications regulator for England, informed JCQ and its member awarding bodies that General Practitioners should not be expected to routinely write letters or notes in support of special consideration applications. The General Medical Council has [also] raised their concerns with the qualifications regulator. The examples in the JCQ publication 'Access Arrangements, Reasonable Adjustments and Special Consideration' should guide you in dealing with special consideration applications. The examples are found in the special consideration section of the booklet. Schools and colleges should not automatically direct candidates to their GP, expecting him/her to write a supporting statement to substantiate an application for special consideration. This has been standard practice for some years now and is not a sudden change in 2013. I can therefore confirm that the guidelines from the Somerset Local Medical Committee are entirely correct.”

You may find it helpful to to direct parents or “examination centres” (as schools and colleges are known in the trade) to JCQ Form 10 which they use to apply for special consideration. This clearly states that, although medical or psychological evidence may be attached, the vital factor is that the Head of Centre or Exams Officer “fully support[s] the application.”

There is one rare situation when a candidate is unable to attend a final exam and resitting cannot arranged at a later date, when JCQ Form 14 comes into play.  Interestingly, if the examination centre sent the candidate home ill, or was aware of a long-term condition which predisposed to sudden absences, no Form 14 is required and so no medical evidence from the GP should be needed. But, if the parent, guardian or carer called to tell the examination centre that the candidate  was ill then Part B of the form should be completed “where appropriate.” This contains options to agree with the statements that the patient was seen at reception, by a nurse, by a doctor or that the parent telephoned the surgery and the patient was “thought to be unfit to sit examinations.” Part B may then be signed and stamped by any member of surgery staff. There is no need for any description of symptoms to be given as these are stated by the parent in Part C. There is no need for a special letter.”

Template - Framework letter to schools re medical certificates for exam absence

Template - letter to schools re medical certificates for absence (not during exams)

Statutory Guidance on Supporting Pupils at School with Medical Conditions

The BMA's General Practitioners Committee (GPC) wrote to the Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator (Ofqual) and received this response which highlights that medical proof should not be required. If you receive a request for this, you may wish to draw the requester's attention to the letter.