Annual Survey

The National Association of Examinations Officers (NAEO) conduct an survey to ascertain the status of the exams officer community and issues which are causing concern and need to be addressed.

The Annual Survey is conducted during October each year, and results in action, not just reflection. As its founding principles state, the NAEO:

  • Represents the views of, and issues faced by, the exams officer community

  • Supports exams officers in their professional development and at centre level

  • Influences educational decision-makers when devising policy which impacts upon the exams officer community

 

Annual Survey 2021

The results of the 2021 Annual Survey are listed below.

During October 2021, the NAEO conducted the annual exams officer survey, which has previously been managed by The Exam Office. The survey was completed by 958 exams officers/exams office staff.

It should be noted that due to a lack of awareness, new exams officers are less likely to complete the annual survey.

The main outcomes are:

  • Almost 1 in 5 exams officers have not experienced a summer exams series
  • There are an increasing number of new exams officers/exams officer vacancies
  • Exams officer salaries are increasing
  • There is still significant work to be undertaken to raise the profile and status of the exams officer role
  • The majority of exams officers are required to undertake an additional role within their centre
  • More than half of exams officers were required to undertake an additional role during Covid – 1 in 5 have retained this role (to date)
  • Almost 1 in 3 exams officers do not have access to an annual appraisal
  • 1 in 5 exams officers do not feel well supported or valued by their line manager/SLT
  • Almost half of all senior leaders believe that the exams officer role is only required/exams officer are busy when exams are taking place
  • Over 90% of exams officers receive appropriate training and support to undertake their role
  • There is a lack of contingency planning in a significant number of centres
  • In 4 out of 5 centres, there is little or no succession planning in the event of the exams officer leaving their post/the appointment of a new exams officer
  • 1 in 3 heads of centre/SLT do not read/refer to/familiarise themselves with the entire contents of the relevant JCQ publications
  • Over 90% of heads of centre/SLT ensure compliance with JCQ regulations
  • More than half of centres are experiencing/expect to experience issues with recruiting, training and/or retention of invigilators ahead of the summer 2022 exams series
  • The support offered by awarding organisations to exams officers/centres is good – particularly from OCR

A full breakdown of questions and responses to all questions is detailed below.

The Exams Officer role

 

Question - Are you a member of the National Association of Examinations Officers?

  • Yes – 80.6%
  • No – 19.4%

 

Question - Is your centre a member of The Exams Office?

  • Yes – 98.6%
  • No – 1.4%

 

Question - Which of the options below best describes your role in your centre?

  • Exams officer – 58.9%
  • Exams officer plus another centre role – 38.6%
  • Exams assistant/support – 1.1%
  • Teacher will responsibility for exams – 1.4%

 

Question - For how long have you worked as an exams officer?

  • Newly appointed (since Sept. 2021) – 3.2% (2.5%)
  • 0-1 year – 5.4% (6.7%)
  • 1-2 years – 10.2% (10.3%)
  • 2-5 years – 25.1% (25.3%)
  • 5+ years – 56.1% (55.2%)

Comment

Almost 1 in 5 (18.8%) exams officers have not experienced/engaged with the processes of a summer exams series.

The churn of new exams officers remains low – which is to be expected due to the absence of a summer exams series (as it is during this period when significant issues and stresses lead to/force some exams officers deciding to leave their post).

It should also be noted that this survey may not be an accurate reflection of the situation in centres as new to role exams officers are less likely to complete the annual survey due to a lack of awareness of its existence.

Additional data which may be taken into account includes that provided by recruitment company, Adzuna, which reveals that the number of examinations officer job advertisement was 258.1% higher than last year, with 308 unfilled vacancies as of October 2021. (see https://www.adzuna.co.uk/jobs/salaries/examination-officer for more information). This number has risen, month on month, since February 2021:

Month

No. of exams officer vacancies

November 2020

86

December 2020

96

January 2021

81

February 2021

67

March 2021

84

April 2021

113

May 2021

155

June 2021

165

July 2021

241

August 2021

261

September 2021

271

October 2021

300

 

Question - For how long have you worked as the exams officer at your current centre?

  • Newly appointed (since Sept. 2021) – 4.5% (3.9%)
  • 0-1 year – 6.9% (8.6%)
  • 1-2 years – 12.6% (14.4%)
  • 2-5 years – 30.7% (30.2%)
  • 5+ years – 45.3% (42.9%)
  • My core role within my centre is not exams officer – 1.6%

Comment

The 2021 survey results are consistent with data acquired in 2020. 

Due to the absence of a summer exams series, and the lack of issues experienced by exams officers, it is less likely that individuals will leave their post within their current centre to take a similar role at another centre.

Many exams officers may also be unlikely to leave their post as they have been given additional roles within their centre during the pandemic.

 

Question - What is your full-time equivalent salary range?

  • £14,999 or less – 2.8% (1.6%)
  • £15,000 - £19,999 – 7.4% (10.6%)
  • £20,000 - £24,999 – 37.6% (37.5%)
  • £25,000 - £29,999 – 32.8% (30.1%)
  • £30,000 - £34,999 – 14.1% (14.7%)
  • £35,000+ - 5.2% (5.5%)

Comment

This data provides contrasting messages.

The average salary remains consistent with that awarded across all exams officers in 2020. However, there is an increasing number of exams officers in the lowest pay band (£14,999 or less) and the £25,000-£29,999 category, and fewer exams officers being paid between £15,000-£19,999. This suggests that perhaps more ‘part time’ exams officers are being appointed (or a given number of days per week are allocated and remunerated for the exams officer role) – if correct, this raises concerns over the status of the exams officer role within these centres.

However, more encouragingly, a greater number of exams officers are being remunerated within the £25,000-£29,999 salary category. This may suggest an increasing number of exams officers being awarded a pay increase, recognition of the value of an experienced exams officer, or the positive impact of the work undertaken by TEO and UNISON to match the exams officer role within the National Joint Council for Local Government Services (NJC) job evaluation scheme. The role has been matched to the role profile ‘Examinations Officer level 2’ with a score of 439 which, if incorporated within the agreed local pay and grading structure, may have led to the increases in salary as identified in this year’s survey. 

Statistics from recruitment company, Adzuna, in October 2021, confirm the average examinations officer salary at £24,735. However, this data has been acquired from salaries in advertised posts only (see https://www.adzuna.co.uk/jobs/salaries/examination-officer for more information).

 

Question - Do you undertake any other role(s) within your centre in addition to that of exams officer?

  • Yes – 57.5% (58.3%)
  • No – 42.5% (41.7%)

 

Question - What type of contract do you have for your current exams officer position?

  • Full time – 26.6% (25.8%)
  • Term Time only – 28.5% (37.5%)
  • Term Time + 2/3/4 weeks – 44.9% (36.7%)

Comment

There has been a noticeable change in the number of exams officers who are now employed on ‘Term Time only’ as opposed to ‘Term Time + x weeks’ contracts.

Although further analysis is required on this data (or figures from the 2022 survey may have to be taken into account), it may be that as a consequence of a cancelled summer exams series and the subsequent processes involved in the preparation for, and delivery of, results days being less involved for exams officers, a greater number of exams officers have been placed on term time only contracts, with additional weeks removed, as a cost-cutting measure within centres.

 

Question - Which of the following areas do you believe the NAEO should explore as possible focus areas?

National pay scale for exams officers

5927

Greater recognition for the exams officer role within the wider education sector and amongst policy makers

5582

The creation of a set of professional standards for exams officers

4768

Increase professional development opportunities

4022

The creation of an annual qualification/accreditation which can be used as part of annual appraisal/performance review

3945

Standard nationwide job description/contract

3813

Reduce workload

3506

Removal of ‘Term time only (plus X weeks)’ contracts

2743

Score is a weighted calculation. Items ranked first are valued higher than the following ranks, the score is a sum of all weighted rank counts.

Comment

The NAEO will consider this feedback and devise a strategy to address the concerns highlighted.

Although a further and full analysis of a national pay scale will be undertaken, it may not be possible to replicate the system which is deployed for teachers. The exams officer role presents a range of differing responsibilities and workload based upon the type of centre in which an exams officer is employed, the range of qualifications delivered and the number of candidates.

The NAEO will explore the advantages and the possibility of creating a set of ‘Exams officer professional standards’ with the support of key stakeholders and a steering group consisting of current exams officers.

In January 2022, in conjunction with The Exams Office, the Exams Officer Digital Accreditation will be launched. This will be the first stage in creating a programme of resources which deliver qualifications/accreditations which can be used as part of annual appraisal/performance review.

Contingency and succession planning

 

Question - What is the notice period you must serve of you decide to leave the exams officer role in your centre?

  • No notice period – 0.2%
  • Less than 1 month – 1%
  • 1 month – 73.6%
  • 2 month – 25.2%

Comment

A notice period of one month or less does not provide sufficient time for a centre to recruit and train a new exams officer in time for an effective ‘handover’ to take place from the outgoing exams officer. This is required to highlight and explain centre-specific processes and is particularly significant if the newly appointed exams officer has not previously undertaken the role.

 

Question - Is adequate contingency in place if you were absent during a critical period (e.g. entry deadline, during an exam series, results day etc.)?

  • Yes – 62.2%
  • No – 37.8%

Comment

Although JCQ regulations (General Regulations for Approved Centres, section 5.3x) state that contingency measures must be in place in the event of the absence of key members of staff and the unavailability of the centre owing to unforeseen circumstances, it is concerning that in almost 2 out of 5 centres, there is a perceived lack of adequate contingency measures.

Further investigation needs to be undertaken to confirm if this Is due to a lack of support for centres in ensuring that adequate contingency measures are in place, or whether there is a lack of awareness amongst heads of centres that this a requirement.

 

Question - Is there any succession planning (i.e., support for a new exams officer) in place in your centre in the event of you deciding to leave your role?

  • Yes – 21%
  • No – 79%

Comment

Inadequate succession planning has been an issue in centres for a significant period of time.

There are several issues which have prevented this from being addressed and the NAEO will focus upon encouraging and supporting stakeholders in devising a programme which assists centres in improving their succession planning. This will also help centres in inducting new exams officers.

Support for exams officers

 

Question - Do you undertake an annual professional appraisal?

  • Yes – 71% (69.5%)
  • No – 29% (30.5%)

Comment

This remains an area of concern.

Almost 1 in 3 exams officers have no formal annual appraisal which is denying them the opportunity/right to highlight their achievements, detail areas of strengths/weaknesses and set targets to aid their professional development.

This also raises the question of the status of the exams officer role within centres which fail to provide their exams officer with the opportunity to undertake an annual appraisal.

 

Question - Do you have an exams assistant or similar administrative support in your centre?

  • Yes (my centre is a college/further education) – 9.5% (6.7%)
  • Yes (my centre is not a college/further education) – 23.25% (24.3%)
  • No – 67.2% (69%)

 

Question - Would you agree that you receive appropriate training and support in order to facilitate the effective delivery of examinations and assessments, and ensure compliance with the published JCQ regulations?

  • Strongly agree – 27.6% (46.9%)
  • Agree – 58.6% (44.8)
  • Disagree – 11.4% (7.2%)
  • Strongly disagree – 2.5% (1.1%)

Comment

Despite some improvement, this remains an area of concern.

Despite JCQ regulations stating that the head of centre must ensure that the ‘…examinations officer receives appropriate training and support in order to facilitate the effective delivery
of examinations and assessments within the centre, and ensure compliance with
the published JCQ regulations’, there still remains a number of centres (8.3%) where there is a lack of adequate training and support. 

 

Question - Have you ever had a request to attend an external training event refused by your head of centre/relevant senior leader/line manager?

  • No – 86.7%
  • Yes (financial constraints) – 9.1%
  • Yes (other reasons) – 4.2%

 

Question - Do you feel well supported by your line manager/relevant senior leader in your centre? For example, are you consulted when decisions are made regarding the management, administration and conducting of examinations? Is your professional development addressed/supported, do have regular meetings with your line manager/relevant senior leader etc.?

  • Very well supported and valued – 35.5% (34.7%)
  • Reasonably well supported and valued – 44.3% (43.5%)
  • Not particularly well supported and valued – 16.5% (17.1%)
  • Poorly supported and unvalued – 3.8% (4.7%)

 

Question - Do you think that senior leaders within your centre believe that the exams officer role is only required/busy when exams are taking place?

  • Yes – 47.2%
  • No – 52.8%

Awarding organisations

 

Question - Which type of qualifications are delivered in your centre?

  • GCSE – 99.8% (99.9%)
  • BTEC – 74.3% (77%)
  • GCE – 64.7% (63.2%)
  • Cambridge Nationals – 55.3% (60%)
  • Functional Skills – 34.5% (36.3%)
  • Cambridge Technicals – 29.3% (29.2%)
  • Other JCQ VTQs – 27.6% (30.1%)
  • Other non-JCQ VTQs – 20.6% (combined non-JCQ qualifications – 32.9%)
  • Other non-JCQ GQs – 19.6%

 

Question - Which awarding body qualifications does your centre deliver?

  • Pearson – 99% (99.3%)
  • AQA – 98.9% (99%)
  • OCR – 96.6% (97%)
  • WJEC/Eduqas – 88.3% (90.5%)
  • NCFE – 24.5% (29.8%)
  • Cambridge International – 24.1% (15.6%)
  • ASDAN – 20.1% (4.4%)
  • Other – 15.1% (1.7%)
  • LIBF – 10.6% (5.4%)
  • City & Guilds – 6% (8.4%)
  • VTCT – 5.2% (2.3%)

 

Question - On a scale of 0-5 (5 being the highest), how would you rate the current level of information, support and guidance provided by the following awarding bodies?

 

0

1

2

3

4

5

OCR

0.2%

0.1%

1.5%

11.4%

43.8%

43%

AQA

0.6%

2.3%

5%

22.9%

43.7%

26.1%

Pearson

0.6%

1.9%

7%

20.9%

45%

24.5%

WJEC/Eduqas

0.4%

4.7%

10.9%

30.7%

35.3%

18.5%

Cambridge

2%

7.7%

12.3%

32%

29.3%

16.7%

NCFE

3.8%

7.9%

14.7%

28.6%

29%

16%

City & Guilds

11.8%

10.3%

27.9%

23.5%

17.6%

8.9%

 

2020 survey result:

 

Poor

Satisfactory

Good

Excellent

OCR

0.5%

9.5%

45.1%

44.9%

AQA

1.2%

10.6%

54.4%

33.8%

Pearson

5.0%

21.4%

47.9%

25.7%

WJEC/Eduqas

5.7%

29.9%

46.8%

17.6%

NCFE

13.6%

31.5%

36.0%

18.9%

City & Guilds

17.0%

46.7%

25.6%

10.7%

 

Head of centre/SLT role and responsibilities

 

Question - Is your line manager a member of the centre’s senior leadership team?

  • Yes – 89.1% (86.2%)
  • No – 10.6% (13.3%)
  • I don’t have a line manager – 0.3% (0.5%)

 

Question - Would you agree that your head of centre/relevant member(s) of the senior leadership team read/refer to/familiarise themselves with the entire contents of the relevant JCQ publications – General Regulations for Approved Centres, Instructions for conducting examinations, Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments?

  • Strongly agree – 15.3% (14.5%)
  • Agree – 51.1% (55.4%)
  • Disagree – 27.4% (23.4%)
  • Strongly disagree – 6.2% (6.7%)

 

Question - Would you agree that the relevant member(s) of your senior leadership team receives appropriate training and support in order to facilitate the effective delivery of examinations and assessments, and ensure compliance with the published JCQ regulations?

  • Strongly agree – 8.7% (13.8%)
  • Agree – 43.5% (40.6%)
  • Disagree – 42.3% (39%)
  • Strongly disagree – 5.5% (6.6%)

 

Question - Would you agree that your head of centre/relevant member(s) of your senior leadership team ensure that the integrity and security of examinations and assessments is maintained throughout an examination series and that your centre is always compliant with the published JCQ regulations and awarding body requirements?

  • Strongly agree – 56.7% (43.6)
  • Agree – 36.7% (46.8)
  • Disagree – 5.4% (7.7%)
  • Strongly agree – 1.2% (1.9%)

The exams officer role during Covid

 

Question - Were you asked to undertake an additional role, as well as serving as the exams officer/assistant, in your centre between March 2020 (the start of the COVID-19 pandemic) and 1 September 2021?

  • No – 49.5%
  • Yes - COVID-19 related (e.g. to support/co-ordinate pupil testing etc.) – 42.6%
  • Yes - not COVID-19 related. I was asked to undertake another role as there were no written timetabled exams in summers 2020 and 2021 – 7.9%

 

Question - If you answered ‘YES’ to the above, are you still performing this role in addition to serving as the exams officer/assistant?

  • No – 79%
  • Yes - this is the additional COVID-19 related role – 15.1%
  • Yes - this is an additional role not related to the role given to me during the COVID-19 pandemic – 5.9%

Comment

This situation needs to be monitored beyond the current academic/’transition’ year.

It is concerning, but perhaps understandable as centres are experiencing ‘exceptional’ circumstances, that more than 1 in 5 exams officers have an additional workload since the beginning of the pandemic. This will be increasingly concerning if any additional role is retained upon a return to ‘business as usual’.

Invigilator recruitment, training and retention

 

Question - If exams were/are being delivered in your centre during 2021, have you experienced any issues around recruiting invigilators for exams in 2021?

  • Yes – 48.9%
  • No – 51.1%

(15.6% of respondents stated that exams were not/are not being held in their centre during 2021)

 

Question - If exams are being held in your centre during the autumn 2021 exams series, have you experienced any issues with training invigilators for this series?

  • Yes – 11.3%
  • No – 88.7%

(19.5% of respondents stated that exams were not being held in their centre during the autumn 2021 exams series)

 

Question - For exams which have taken place in 2021 or are still to take place in the autumn 2021 exams series, did you predominantly recruit new invigilators or use invigilators that had previously worked as an invigilator at your centre?

  • We recruited new invigilators – 3.4%
  • We used invigilators who had previously worked as an invigilator at our centre – 96.6%

(17% of respondents stated that exams were not delivered in their centre in 2021/are not being delivered in their centre during the autumn 2021 exams series)

 

Question - Do you foresee any issues around the recruitment, training and/or retention of invigilators next year (summer 2022 exams series)?

  • Yes – 55.3%
  • No – 44.7%

Comment

The issues around invigilator retention, recruitment and training will be fully analysed in the coming weeks.

The data suggests the following:

  • Possible issues in retaining invigilators (particularly as many existing invigilators are classified as ‘vulnerable’ by current health guidance)
  • Significant issues in recruiting invigilators. This suggests a potential shortage for summer 2022 exams
  • Training invigilators is not an issue with plenty of options for new and experienced exams officers in acquiring the appropriate training (including certificated evidence) for their invigilators