CEO Message - September 2023 : Welcome to a new academic year

A very warm welcome to all exams officers and exams office staff from us all at the National Association of Examinations Officers (NAEO).

Of course, we all know that a new academic year has begun as the weather decides to deliver the summer which we should have experienced in recent weeks, but as every exams officer is aware, tasks related to the results from the summer exams series are not yet completed and therefore, unlike other staff within your centre, you can not fully focus upon the new academic year alone. Only when post results requests and issues are resolved, will the attention of exams officers turn to planning and preparing for examinations and assessments taking place during 2023/2024.

Below, I focus upon five areas which should provide encouragement for the exams officer community as we embark upon a new academic year.

JCQ regulations

At the time of writing this article, all JCQ publications for 2023/2024, apart from the Suspected Malpractice: Policies and Procedures publication, have (if only just) been published. As always, there are some interesting, much needed and relevant additions to the regulations which the NAEO fully supports. In particular, we welcome JCQ taking on board our suggestion to include specific reference within the General Regulations for Approved Centres for heads of centre to ensure that exams officers have sufficient time to perform their role and familiarise themselves with relevant awarding body and JCQ documentation (section 5.3c).

Senior leaders

We are also encouraged by JCQ and the awarding bodies further clarifying the role and responsibilities of senior leaders/senior members of centre staff in managing examinations and assessments within their centre. This now includes (as detailed in General Regulations for Approved Centres section 5.3):

  • being familiar with JCQ regulations and possessing a good working knowledge of the examination system
  • receiving 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
  • actively/effectively supporting, line managing and supervising the examinations officer
  • ensuring that the integrity and security of examinations and assessments is maintained through an examination series
  • addressing any urgent matters which might adversely affect candidates which arise outside of term time, and which potentially put qualification awards at risk, and possessing the necessary authority to mobilise resources/provide support to resolve any such issues
  • acting immediately in the event of an emergency or where the head of centre, examinations officer or SENCo is absent at a critical stage of the examination cycle
  • leading a briefing session or special assembly to highlight the JCQ Information for candidates documents and to reinforce what candidates must and must not do when sitting written examinations and/or on-screen tests, and when producing coursework and/or non-examination assessments
  • being available to candidates immediately after the publication of results

JCQ Centre Inspection Service

Over the summer months we have been in regular dialogue with senior representatives from the JCQ Centre Inspection Service (CIS) to discuss issues raised by exams officers during the summer exams series.

The CIS is eager to engage with the exams officer community, and whilst there can be no doubt over the significance of JCQ inspections in helping to maintain the integrity and security of examinations and assessments, it is also very encouraging that the CIS is acting upon feedback and looking to ensure a JCQ inspection is a positive and supportive experience for centres and their exams officers.

Delivery of vocational and technical qualifications results

The role played by exams officers in delivering results to candidates who sat examinations for vocational and technical (VTQ) qualifications during summer 2023 has been commended by Ofqual, JCQ and the awarding bodies.

The significance of the exams officer role in successfully delivering these results should not be underestimated as the collation, entry, receipt, and dissemination of such information is a complex and time-consuming task which can only be completed with a significant amount of planning and collaborative working.

Exams officers in centres delivering VTQs proved their worth and emphasised the importance of recognising the skills, knowledge and experience which they possess and how they step up to support the delivery on such priority areas. 

(The NAEO encourages all exams officers involved in the delivery of VTQ results to complete this Ofqual survey to ensure that their feedback on the measures put in place for summer 2023 is taken into account in the formation of a strategy for delivery during the 2023/2024 academic year)

Raising the profile of the exams officer community

The NAEO, in conjunction with The Exams Office, will look to further raise the profile of the exams officer role and ensure that its status is appropriately recognised within the education sector.

A key element in achieving this aim is to launch the Exams Officer Professional Standards. In the coming months, we will announce a programme which incorporates these standards as part of a support programme for senior leaders to ensure that they are meeting their responsibilities in the management of examinations and assessments within their centre.


The exams officer role can very often be lonely (in a one-person department) and thankless as attention may only be drawn to you when something goes wrong or is missing. However, the exams officer community should be encouraged by the support which is being offered by stakeholders and the measures which are being put into place to raise the profile and status of the role.

As we continue to emerge from the effects of the pandemic, each examination series sees us move closer to ‘business as usual’, however, this must also include greater recognition of the work undertaken by exams officer than existed pre-2020. Thankfully, key stakeholders (up to and including Ministerial level) are recognising the work undertaken by exams officers within centres – this is something which offers great encouragement for the months and years ahead.

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