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 has developed a set of Exams Officer Professional Standards which set a baseline of expectations for the professional practice and conduct of exams officers. The standards 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, and completing the various tasks associated with the exams cycle. The standards also help exams officers to self-evaluate, reflect, and determine their professional development needs.
The standards identify the key requirements of the exams officer role (which help to set 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.
The standards will also form part of the recruitment process when appointing an exams officer (with the creation of a 'national' job description and sample interview questions/tasks), and to inform discussions during annual appraisals or regarding professional development requirements.
Recognition for the Exams Officer Professional Standards has been acquired from the following educational/examination stakeholders:
- Department for Education: A message from the Minister of State (Education) – Rt. Hon. Nick Gibb
- Ofqual: 'Ofqual welcomes the steps being taken by the National Association of Examinations Officers to professionalise the role of the exams officer given the pivotal role they have in the effective running of the exam system'
- Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ): Statement to follow
AQA: 'At AQA, our purpose is to advance education by providing high quality qualifications that help students realise their potential and equip them to succeed. We believe everyone has the potential to achieve, so we make sure our qualifications give all students the opportunity to show what they can do and progress to the next stage of their lives. This is why we support the new Exams Officer Professional Standards, from the National Association of Examinations Officers – to really acknowledge the importance of the exams officer role, the professionalism and expertise they bring, and to recognise the part they play in young people’s education journeys. We encourage all the exams officers we work with to take the opportunity to achieve the professional recognition they deserve'
How do I obtain my professional standards certificate?
In September, the NAEO will be launching a webpage dedicated to the professional standards from which senior leaders/line managers can register their exams officer onto the programme and obtain a certificate to evidence achievement each academic year
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
Step 2 - An exams officer meets with their line manager in September 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 - The Values and attributes statement is downloaded, signed by the exams officer and their line manager and retained on file
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 line manager can acquire a professional standards certificate which confirms:
- an adequate knowledge and understanding of exams 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
Details of how line managers can obtain an annual Exams Officer Professional Standards certificate for their exams officer will be published in August.
What is contained within the standards?
The Exams Officer Professional Standards include three elements:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Key skills
- Values and attributes
Knowledge and understanding
It is a requirement of the exams officer role to have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the following areas (this is not an exhaustive list):
- JCQ regulations associated with the management, administration and conducting of examinations
- Awarding organisations' processes and procedures
- An understanding of subject specifications and how qualifications are structured and assessed
- The Management Information System (MIS) used within their centre
- Internal centre 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 line manager, to agree upon the knowledge and understanding which they must 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.
As detailed above, new exams officers are encouraged to complete the New Exams Officer Induction and Assessment Module.
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'
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 will 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 body regulations. In this respect, the standards provide protection for exams officers when they encounter instances of malpractice within their centre.
From September, exams officers will be able to access a Values and attributes statement which should be downloaded on an annual basis, signed by the exams officer and their line manager, and retained on file.
The creation of the professional standards
Below is a summary of the key individuals who helped to create the Exams Officer Professional Standards and a timeline of steering group meetings.
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 were joined by Marcia Woods and Jugjit Chima (Steering Group Chair).
See below for meeting agendas and minutes.
Following the decisions made by the Steering Group a range of online programmes will be devised to support exams officers in their day-to-day role – 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 are to 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.
Steering group meetings
Meeting 1 - 26 July 2022 (12-2pm)
- 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
Meeting minutes can be found here
Meeting 3 - 21 September (11-12noon)
- Focus area: The skills required to successfully undertake the exams officer role
Meeting minutes can be found here
Meeting 4 - 31 October (11-12noon)
- Focus area: The values and attributes which must be displayed by every exams officer
Meeting minutes can be found here
Meeting 5 - 14 December (11-12noon) - This meeting includes the content which would have been discussed at the cancelled 28 November meeting
- Focus area: Final comments from the group members & presentation of the draft report for discussion