A scribe is a writing assistant who writes out answers dictated by the child. Schools should consider using a word processor or transcription before deciding to use a scribe. A scribe should only be used if other options are not appropriate and the child uses a scribe as part of normal classroom practice. Schools must have evidence to show resources are routinely committed to providing this support (except in the case of unforeseen injuries).

A scribe must be able to write legibly, at a reasonable speed and, ideally, have a working knowledge of the subject. The scribe must not be another child at the school or a relative, or guardian of the child taking the test. The scribe may also act as a reader.

The inappropriate use of a scribe may lead to the annulment of a child’s results.

If a scribe is being provided because of an unforeseen injury and the child is unfamiliar with working with a scribe, up to 25 per cent additional time is allowed automatically. Schools do not need to request permission to administer additional time in these circumstances.

Eligible circumstances for using a scribe

A scribe can be used when a child is:

  • physically unable to write their own answers or use a word processor
  • physically able to write, but has a motor impairment that causes physical discomfort when writing
  • physically able to write but writes very slowly
  • physically able to write but finds writing very difficult.
  • physically unable to write following an unforeseen injury (schools may also consider administering 25 per cent additional time – they do not need to apply for the additional time in these instances).

When writing out a child’s answers, a scribe must:

  • ensure all language, punctuation and phrasing is the child’s own
  • not pause for spellings to be dictated (apart from in the spelling component of the English grammar, punctuation and spelling test), unless the child usually works this way work at the child’s pace and not hurry them if they need time for reflection, reading or rest
  • follow precisely the child’s instructions to draw or add to diagrams, charts and graphs in the mathematics tests
  • make a correction on a typescript or Braille script if asked to do so by the child
  • not transcribe a Braille script to print.

There may be instances where the child does not need a scribe for the whole test. For example, if the child experiences fatigue or if a child with a visual/motor impairment writes over their own handwriting and this needs to be made clear. If this is likely to occur, the school should make arrangements for a scribe in advance. The child may start the test as normal and begin using a scribe when needed.

Making arrangements to use a scribe

Schools do not need to seek permission from STA or their local authority before making arrangements for a scribe to be on hand for a child taking a key stage 2 test. However they must complete and return the notification form that is available to download from this web page.

Contact details

National curriculum assessments helpline
Telephone: 0300 303 3013
Email: assessments@education.gov.uk