The Exams Officer Professional Standards are assessed within your centre via the following process:
Step 1: A senior leader/line manager registers their exams officer for the professional standards by completing the registration form on this page of the Senior Leader & Line Manager Exam Support website
Step 2: An exams officer meets with their line manager as early as possible during each academic year (or upon appointment if this is during the academic year) and agrees their targets/areas on which they focus in relation to knowledge and understanding, and skills
Step 3: The support which an exams officer will receive to reach these targets is also agreed (e.g. attending training sessions, completion of online assessment(s), peer support, etc.)
Step 4: Timelines are agreed for checkpoints during the academic year to assess progress against targets
Step 5: Download, sign (both the exams officer and their senior leader/line manager), date and retain the Values and attributes statement
Step 6: At the end of the academic year or when targets have been met/completed (whichever is earlier), a meeting is held to assess/confirm achievement of targets
Step 7: Once it is agreed that an exams officer has achieved their targets, their senior leader/line manager can acquire a professional standards certificate by confirming the achievement of all three elements of the professional standards on this page of the Senior Leader & Line Manager Exam Support website
Step 8: The certificate will confirm:
- an adequate knowledge and understanding of exam regulations, processes and procedures
- progress made to acquire, develop or update key skills
- the upholding of the values and attributes which maintain the integrity and security of the examination process within their centre
The certificate, and the evidence provided to acquire the certificate, should be retained within the centre’s Exams Manual.
What are the three elements which form the professional standards?
The Exams Officer Professional Standards include three elements:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Key skills
- Values and attributes
Part 1 - Knowledge and understanding
It is for the senior leader/line manager to meet with their exams officer to agree the areas in which they are expected to possess a good knowledge and understanding. These may include (this is not an exhaustive list):
- JCQ regulations associated with the management, administration and conducting of examinations
- Awarding organisations' processes and procedures
- JCQ and awarding organisation key dates/deadlines
- An understanding of types and levels of regulated qualifications, the different qualifications delivered in the centre (e.g. GCE, GCSE, BTECs, Cambridge Nationals/Technicals, etc.) and how these are structured and assessed
- The Management Information System (MIS) used within the centre
- Centre-specific processes and procedures
As an introduction to the role, newly appointed exams officers should complete an induction programme. For these exams officers, this will form a key element of the knowledge and understanding which they will be required to demonstrate during their first year in role.
The Exams Office offers a New Exams Officer Induction and Assessment Module which is approved and accredited by the NAEO.
Helping exams officers acquire the relevant knowledge and understanding
It is for exams officers, after discussion with their senior leader/line manager, to agree upon the knowledge and understanding which they should acquire, or update, during an academic year.
Existing exams officers looking to evidence their knowledge and understanding of JCQ regulations/publications are encouraged to complete the NAEO approved and accredited Exams Officer Digital Accreditation (EODA). This certificated online assessment has been developed by The Exams Office to help exams officers acquire a thorough knowledge of JCQ regulations and publications.
Centres should also utilise training and support offered by the awarding organisations:
- This includes the following for new exams officers:
- This includes attending training events/networks including:
- One Cambridge Nationals admin essentials event (as a minimum)
- One full year of Cambridge Technical admin essentials event (each session is broken down into topics and categories, exams officers need to attend all 7-8 sessions for a comprehensive understanding of Cambridge Technicals)
- New/inexperienced exams officer check-in events (these run from February to April), where new exams officers have the opportunity to discuss the practicalities of running a summer exam series with OCR Customer Support Managers and experienced exams officers who are currently in role
- All Online Exams Officer Updates (half termly, online)
- Managing results for General Qualifications/Cambridge Nationals and/or Cambridge Technicals sessions (July and August)
- Attend, at least, one OCR exams officer network (where possible)
- This includes completing the five modules within the Exams Officer Learning Path
As detailed above, new exams officers are encouraged to complete the New Exams Officer Induction and Assessment Module.
Exams officers should retain evidence, such as certificates, course materials etc, to confirm the areas in which they have acquired the necessary knowledge and understanding.
Part 2 - Key skills
Another element of the professional standards is to identify and develop the key skills required of an exams officer to successfully perform the various tasks to manage, administer and conduct examinations within their centre.
The ten most common skills as identified by exams officers to undertake their role effectively include:
- Time management
- People management
- Contingency planning/risk management
- Prioritising tasks/workload/multitasking
- Problem solving
- Communication skills
- Handling difficult conversations
- Presentation skills
- Managing deadlines
- Working collaboratively
In the coming months, the NAEO will be launching an online skills platform which will include certificated assessments. This will assist exams officers in acquiring, developing, and evidencing achievement in the skills listed above. The content within the online platform will be updated on an annual basis.
The longer-term aim is to enhance the platform to provide access to a ‘higher’ level within each skill area, and to create an exams officer 'qualification'.
Exams officers should meet with their senior leader/line manager to agree the skills which they need to focus upon and how this development will be acquired. This could include mentoring a colleague, attending courses (in person or online), research etc.
Part 3 - Values and attributes
The exams officer role requires individuals to work with integrity and maintain the security of the examination system within their centre. Exams officers not only uphold the regulations as set by JCQ and its awarding bodies, but also the ethos under which examinations and assessments must be conducted.
The professional standards recognise the high standards of personal and professional conduct which are required to undertake the exams officer role. By identifying a set of common values and attributes, we are ensuring that exams officers are supported in situations where they are compromised by, or put under pressure to accept, centre decisions which may not align with JCQ and awarding organisation regulations. In this respect, the standards provide protection for exams officers when they encounter instances of malpractice within their centre.
A Values and attributes statement can be downloaded from this page of the NAEO website. It should be signed and dated by the exams officer and their senior leader/line manager, and retained on file.