Appendix 12:

DipSW Assessment Regulations: Guidelines on "Exceptional Circumstances".

The West of Scotland DipSW Assessment Regulations allow the Programme Assessment Board (PAB) discretion, in "exceptional circumstances", to permit a student one further resubmission in respect of a failed assignment(s), where otherwise the student's grades would result in his/her failure off the course. However the phrase is open to differing interpretations, with the possible consequence that inequities could occur.

This paper does not seek to define a set of rules governing this provision, but rather to clarify some of the principles, which might normally apply. The main principles are as follows:

  1. The kinds of circumstances which will usually be regarded as exceptional for these purposes are:
    1. illness, and
    2. personal and/or family trauma.

  2. In order to be relevant to a request for PAB discretion, the exceptional circumstances under consideration will normally:
    1. have arisen at a key point in the preparation of the assignment(s) in question;
    2. be of sufficient severity as to cause substantial disruption to the student's preparation of the assignment(s);
    3. and
    4. have arisen in such a way that the student could not reasonably have been expected to foresee the difficulties, nor to have coped with them through proper planning.

  3. The student is expected to ensure that his/her tutor (or, exceptionally, another appropriate member of the route's Course Team) is informed of the exceptional circumstances at the time they arise, and this will normally be in advance of submission of the assignment in question. It will not be acceptable for such circumstances to be reported only after the assignment has been graded fail.

  4. Where appropriate the student will be expected to produce documentary evidence (e.g. a medical certificate) of the exceptional circumstances.

  5. Prior to the appropriate PAB meeting, the student will be responsible for reporting the exceptional circumstances, formally and in writing, to the route's Lead Tutor who will then ensure that the PAB is duly informed. The student's letter will outline the circumstances in question and should place these in the context of the timescale for preparation and submission of the assignment(s). The letter will also enclose any documentary evidence (referred to above).

  6. This letter, together with any accompanying evidence, will be made available by the lead tutor (normally not later than two working days prior to the PAB) only to those who require to know the detail of the student's circumstances in order to make decisions about her/his progress. In most instances it will be sufficient for PAB members to be satisfied that the circumstances are exceptional in terms outlined above, but they will not usually need to know the detail of the circumstances as contained in the student's letter. Thus circulation of the student's letter will normally include only the PAB Chair and the External Assessor(s), extending to other members of the PAB only if this is considered necessary.

©West of Scotland Consortium for Education and Training in Social Work 2001.