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An OLM - what is it?

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by JulesDaulby, Nov 8, 2016.

  1. JulesDaulby

    JulesDaulby Occasional commenter

    "The Oral Language Modifier (OLM) is a role created to provide a reasonable adjustment in examinations for candidates who require a level of language support beyond that provided by a reader."
    CIEA 2008

    When I worked in a further education college many moons ago, I read about this thing called an Oral Language Modifier (OLM). It was for examination access arrangements and I just assumed it was a machine (I imagine I'd been reading too much science fiction at the time and got carried away). Admin informed me after I'd put an order in for this machine that it was a human.

    Delving deeper it turned out an OLM was a more advanced version of a reader. Not only could they read aloud to a student, in addition, an OLM could change the carrier language of an exam. The type of student eligible for this adjustment was one with poor comprehension, proved by a standardised score in sentence comprehension of under 75.

    Unlike a reader or a scribe, where staff are trained in-house, an OLM had to pass an exam to qualify. I decided to book the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors (CIEA) for all our TAs and Learning Support Tutors so we could offer this to students.

    I found it such an interesting course and to my relief, passed the exam. Soon after that I left college to work for SENSS in Dorset's Local Authority so I haven't been an OLM much. I have however used the knowledge I gained for training an awful lot. Below is a link to my Prezi which is part of a 'decoding exam questions' session I give to teachers and TAs.

    When I qualified, it was only possible to do the course through the CIEA but it is much easier now as the accreditation can be done online via Communicate-Ed.


    I don't know what this course is like but if it's anything like the CIEA training materials, I would recommend it; not just for your students but also as excellent CPD.

    Let me know how you get on.

    Last edited: Nov 8, 2016

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