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Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Safeguarding

We are committed to inclusive practice in all our assessments and processes, from booking and preparing for the assessment day, to the ways in which assessors work with learners and how we award our qualifications.

Inclusive practice aims to ensure that everyone can participate in an assessment, whatever their background and circumstances. The principle of equality means that no learner is treated more or less favourably, or advantaged or disadvantaged, because of disability, age, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, ethnicity or race, religion or belief, sex, sexual identity or sexual orientation (protected characteristics as defined in the Equality Act 2010).

We believe that assessment should be a fair test of learners’ skills and knowledge. For some learners the usual format of assessment may not be suitable or accessible, and we recognise that disabilities can be physical or invisible. Some learners may need an access arrangement (also known as a special accommodation or reasonable adjustment) to access the assessment and show what they know and can do without changing the demands of the assessment, i.e. the learning objectives and assessment criteria. We refer to these as Reasonable Adjustments and centres need to apply for a Reasonable Adjustment before their learners’ assessment.

Sometimes things go wrong at or near the time of the assessment, which can affect learners’ ability to perform at their best, such as a temporary disability, illness or indisposition, or some other event outside of their control, and if this happens centres may be able to apply for a Special Consideration. This is an adjustment to a learner’s mark or grade after the assessment has been completed.

Inclusive Practice

In our qualifications and assessments:

We apply the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion as soon as we start developing and producing our qualifications and follow best practice to recognise and reflect the diversity of all our learners. For example:

  • Learners completing ESB International Speech qualifications can choose what they want to talk about and bring their own personalities and interests to the assessment. They need to work in groups, listen to each other and show that they are supportive and active communicators.
  • Learners with severe learning difficulties can do one of our entry level Building Confidence in Communication qualifications that are designed to help remove barriers to learning by enabling access to a wide range of curricula and developing self-esteem and a positive self-identity.
  • Centres can choose the best assessment for their learners, whatever their age, interests and abilities, and a group can be made up of learners completing qualifications of different levels or qualifications from different portfolios. For example:
  • Learners who are learning English as an additional language can do their ESB Entry Level Award in Graded Examinations in Speech (Entry 3) (EAL – B1) with classmates who are doing an ESB Entry Level Award in Speech (Entry 2).

    A learner with a severe learning difficulty can do the ESB Entry Level Award in Communicating with Art (Entry 1) with classmates who are doing an ESB Entry Level Award in Speech (Entry 2).

  • Reading, writing, listening and speaking assessments for ESOL Skills for Life and ESOL International qualifications are based on topics that are accessible to all and are rigorously evaluated for bias and appropriacy.

In supporting centres, learners, parents and carers preparing for our assessments:

Our resources for teachers reflect the diversity of our ESB International community. Most resources are editable so teachers can adapt them to suit their learners. For support, queries and alternative formats, please contact us at

Inclusive Practice – teacher’s resource

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy

Reasonable Adjustments

What Reasonable Adjustments are available for ESB International qualifications?

Some examples of Reasonable Adjustments are:

  • changing the usual assessment arrangements, for example allowing extra time to complete the assessment activity
  • adapting assessment materials, such as providing materials in braille or large font
  • providing assistance during assessment, such as a sign language interpreter or a reader to support with reading the instructions or questions, or the learner’s support worker
  • re-organising the assessment room
  • using assistive technology, such as screen reading or voice activated software
  • printing paper-based assessments on coloured paper or allowing different coloured transparencies with which to view assessment papers or materials
  • changing font or background colours for online assessments
  • allowing breaks
  • using visual aids or prompters.

These adjustments can complement each other in order to create the most suitable assessment experience for each learner. For a more detailed breakdown of what arrangements are possible for ESB International assessments, see our matrix here:

Speech – Reasonable Adjustments matrix

ESOL Skills for Life – Reasonable Adjustments matrix

If you believe that your learner would benefit from an adjustment that is not covered by our documentation please email to discuss options.

Who can apply for a Reasonable Adjustment?

It is the centre’s or satellite centre’s responsibility to request an adjustment to the assessment arrangements before the assessment.

How and when do I apply for a Reasonable Adjustment?

For Speech and ESOL Skills for Life qualifications, the person who books the assessment for the centre (for example the teacher, exams officer or centre manager) should select the Reasonable Adjustment from the drop-down menu on the Hub. We may approve the request automatically or we may email the centre for more information or to ask for evidence. If the specific Reasonable Adjustment that the learner requires is not listed, email

For ESOL International qualifications, centre or satellite centre staff should apply through Europalso, ESBinItaly, ESBinNorthMacedonia or ESBinBulgaria.

What Evidence do I need?

Learners should provide the centre or satellite centre with evidence of their learning needs or medical condition. The centre may already hold such information. The evidence must be current and relevant to the learner. Examples of evidence are a relevant diagnostic report, or a statement of learning needs or medical condition from appropriately qualified personnel. The centre must keep the evidence for a year so we can audit it.

How does ESB International decide which adjustment is appropriate?

We look at the learner’s ways of working and their learning need or medical condition. We consider what is fair, reasonable and practical in the circumstances. We also encourage learners and centres to practise and prepare using the adjustment, so the earlier the adjustment can be put in place, the better.

What happens in the assessment if my learner has a Reasonable Adjustment?

Here are some guidance documents for centres and satellite centres:

Skills for Life

ESOL International


Special Considerations

When can I apply for a Special Consideration?

If you have experienced an emotional or physical issue or event that may affect your ability to demonstrate your normal level of attainment in an assessment, then your centre or satellite centre can apply for a Special Consideration immediately after the assessment finishes. The issue may be:

  • temporary illness or accident/injury at the time of the assessment
  • bereavement at the time of the assessment
  • domestic crisis arising at the time of the assessment
  • serious disturbance during an examination
  • accidental events at the time of the assessment such as being given the wrong paper, being given a defective paper or CD, failure of practical equipment, failure of materials to arrive on time, or assessor error
  • failure by the centre or satellite centre to implement previously approved access arrangements and/or reasonable adjustments.

Who can apply for a Special Consideration?

It is the centre’s or satellite centre’s responsibility to request a special consideration in relation to the marking of the learner’s assessment within 24 hours of the assessment taking place. You can download the Special Consideration application form and email it to Please attach the special consideration application form to the affected assessment paper before dispatch.

What are examples of Special Considerations?

A Special Consideration may result in a small adjustment to the learner’s mark. The size of the adjustment will depend on the circumstances and reflect the difficulty faced by the learner, with the maximum adjustment being 5%. The size of the adjustment is at the discretion of ESB International.

Reasonable Adjustments and Special Considerations Policy

Special Consideration Request Form


Safeguarding – the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adult learners is something ESB places a huge importance on.

ESB is committed to promoting the safety and welfare of all learners, delivering its assessments in a way that protects them.

ESB’s contact with children and vulnerable adults

The ESB team do not have direct responsibility for, or frequent contact with children, young people or vulnerable adults on a regular basis. Therefore, ESB assessors and other members of the ESB team should be accompanied by a responsible adult when working with children and/or vulnerable adults. If ESB personnel find themselves without an accompanying adult, they will remove themselves from the situation immediately.

Safeguarding Icon

What are my safeguarding responsibilities as an ESB centre?

ESB centres are responsible for:

  • Appointing their own Safeguarding Lead/Safeguarding Coordinator.
  • Having in place their own Safeguarding Policy and Procedures.

In the event that a safeguarding incident occurs at one of ESB’s approved centres, it may be necessary to liaise with the Safeguarding Coordinator/Safeguarding Lead at ESB Head Office, to provide information pertaining to an incident, as per the requirements of the Safeguarding policy.

ESB is committed to:

  • Protecting children, young people and vulnerable adults during their assessment.
  • Preventing impairment of children’s, young person’s and vulnerable adult’s health and development.
  • Ensuring that children and young people grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care.
  • Taking action to enable all children, young people and vulnerable adults to have the best outcomes.
  • People, and organisations, working together to prevent and stop both the risks and experience of abuse and neglect.
  • People and organisations making sure that a learner’s wellbeing is promoted including, where appropriate, taking fully into account their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs in deciding on any action.
  • Recognising that vulnerable people sometimes have complex interpersonal relationships and may be ambivalent, unclear or unrealistic about their personal circumstances and therefore potential risks to their safety and/ or well-being.

Safeguarding and ESB assessments:

  • ESB requires all of its employees and assessors, who come into contact with children, young people and vulnerable adults on a regular basis to obtain a Basic Disclosure Check. All ESB assessors must update their DBS record every three years to satisfy our safeguarding requirements. ESB assessors are happy to produce a copy of their DBS certificate on request on arrival at a centre. We strongly encourage all centres to ask our assessors for their DBS certificate before admitting them to the premises.
  • ESB centres are responsible for ensuring that a responsible adult from their organisation is available to attend assessments where children, young people and vulnerable adults are present. A responsible adult must be someone who has knowledge of the centre’s own Safeguarding Policy and Procedures. The ESB assessor must not be left alone with children, young people or vulnerable adults at any time.

For full information, please refer to our Safeguarding Policy and Centre Handbooks, which can be found on our Policies and Procedures page.

ESB reviews its safeguarding policy annually to ensure its procedures and practices continue to meet legislative and regulatory compliance. If required, ESB reserve the right to make changes at any time in line with customer and stakeholder feedback, changes in its practices as a result of actions from the regulatory authorities, external agencies, or in compliance with changes in government legislation.

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