Background & Next Steps

Background

The main objective of the NAEO is to raise the profile and status of the exams officer role. Working towards this will ensure that exams officers have access to the best possible working conditions within their centre – including having the necessary time to undertake their roles, access to support and guidance when required, and being remunerated appropriately.

To help achieve this objective, the NAEO will be developing a set of Exams Officer Professional Standards which will set a baseline of expectations for the professional practice and conduct of exams officers. The Standards will ensure that exams officers are viewed in a professional capacity as the individual within a centre who is responsible for the management, administration and conducting of examinations and assessments. The Standards will also help exams officers to self-evaluate, reflect, and determine their professional development needs.

The Standards will identify the key requirements of the exams officer role (which will help in setting it aside from the current perception of it being a purely administrative role) and measure success and achievement which can be formally recognised during an annual appraisal.

Once these Standards have been created, we will strive obtain recognition from key stakeholders within the sector including the Department for Education, Ofqual and organisations representing heads of centres and senior leaders. We will also ask for the Standards to form part of the recruitment process when appointing an exams officer, and to inform discussions during annual appraisals or regarding professional development requirements.

What will the Standards consist of?

It is proposed that the Standards will include three elements:

  • Knowledge and understanding of examination regulations
  • Developing key skills
  • Values and attributes

Knowledge and understanding of examination regulations

It is a requirement of the exams officer role to be aware of the regulations associated with the management, administration and conducting of examinations and therefore to have an assessment/accreditation which can formally recognise this is a major step in professionalising the exams officer role.

The NAEO has been working with key stakeholders to identify a credible and comprehensive pathway which confirms an exams officers knowledge and understanding and therefore their suitability to undertake the role.

We have worked closely with The Exams Office to develop the Exams Officer Digital Accreditation (EODA) which we will initially utilise as a key indicator for measuring knowledge and understanding of examination regulations (if available, other methods to confirm knowledge and understanding can also be used). We have endorsed the EODA by including the NAEO logo on all certificates. See The Exams Office website for more information on the EODA.

We will liaise with The Exams Office on a regular basis to review and develop the EODA to ensure that it meets the requirements to be included as an integral part of the Standards.

Developing key skills

Another element of the Standards is to identify and develop the key skills which are required to perform the various tasks required of an exams officer.

Many exams officers inform us that, after a period of time in role, they identify a set of skills which they need to acquire or develop in order to perform effectively, yet there is little or no support in developing these skills, or to know how these skills can be developed further. The ten most common skills as identified by exams officers to undertake their role effectively are as follows:

  • 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 assembling a group of exams officers to identify a list of key skills required to undertake the role, from which we will start work on developing an online key skills training and assessment programme which supports exams officers in acquiring, developing, and evidencing achievement in these skills. This online platform will be updated on an annual basis.

The programme will be enhanced to provide access to a ‘higher’ level within each skill area, and an annual ‘update’ assessment for exams officers to attempt during each academic year.

Values and attributes

The exams officer role requires individuals to work with integrity. Exams officers not only uphold the regulations but also the ethos under which examinations and assessments must be conducted.

The Standards will recognise the high standards of personal and professional conduct which are required to undertake the role. By identifying a set of common values and attributes, we will also be 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 body regulations. In this respect, the Standards will provide protection for exams officers when they encounter instances of malpractice within their centre.

Next steps

Our aim is to launch the Standards in 2023. This will require confirming the content for the three areas within the Standards.

One method by which exams officers will be able to measure knowledge and understanding has already been confirmed – the Exams Officer Digital Accreditation.

In July 2022, we appointed the following exams officers to a steering group consisting of exams officers and key stakeholders to discuss and confirm the content for the Developing Key Skills and Values and Attributes elements of the Standards:

  • Lynne Smith
  • Geraldine Jozefiak
  • Julie Vine
  • Samantha Burden
  • Jenny Kavanagh
  • Kerry Tweddle
  • Angela Johnson
  • Amber Patterson

They will be joined by Marcia Woods, Nick Lait (JCQ and representing the awarding organisations) and Jugjit Chima (Steering Group Chair).

See below for meeting agendas and minutes.

Following the decisions made by the Steering Group we will devise any online programmes which may be required – for example, an online key skills training and assessment programme to assess and improve the key skills as identified in the Standards.

Finally, the Standards will be presented to the relevant authorities, organisations, and associations for formal recognition, to ensure that they are utilised as part of the exams officer recruitment, appointment, appraisal, and performance management process in all centres.

Meetings

Meeting 1 - 26 July 2022 (12-2pm)

Agenda:

  • Introductions
  • Background - The reason for proposing the Standards
  • The scope of the Steering Group - what we will look to achieve/propose and timelines
  • Future meetings/attendance/minutes
  • Focus area: The main tasks/responsibilities of the exams officer role
  • Next meeting - confirm date and focus area (i.e. What should be included within the Standards?)

Meeting minutes can be found here

 

Meeting 2 - 31 August 2022 (12-2pm)

  • Focus area: The knowledge required to successfully undertake the exams officer role