CEO Message - December 2023 : Are we succeeding in raising the status and profile of the exams officer role?

One of the main aims of the National Association of Examinations Officers (NAEO) is to raise awareness of the significance of the role played by exams officers amongst key stakeholders within the education sector. These stakeholders include policymakers (the Department for Education), regulators (Ofqual), those who set the rules/regulations (JCQ and its awarding organisations) and those who directly impact the working conditions of exams officers (organisations and associations which represent heads of centres and senior leaders).

To achieve our aims, NAEO meets with key stakeholders on a regular basis to emphasise the importance of the role played by exams officers and to raise awareness of the issues faced by exams officers. We also represent the views of the exams officer community to ensure that these are considered when key decisions are taken, or when reforms are proposed to the education/examination system which will impact exams officers. Rather than simply highlighting issues, we attempt to present solutions, we build upon positive relationships which enable us to work collaboratively with stakeholders, and we employ a pragmatic approach which enables us to accept decisions which are made for the benefit of the wider education sector.

So, are we succeeding in raising the status and profile of the exams officer role/community?

To assess this, we need to consider the changes which have occurred in recent years:

Department for Education

We have gained recognition from ministers of the significance and professional status of the exams officer role. DfE officials also provide support for our annual conference and have worked with us on initiatives such as invigilator recruitment.


In recent years, the regulator has written to heads of centres asking for them to convey Ofqual’s thanks to their exams officer(s) for the pivotal role they have played during the summer exam series.

Ofqual deliver keynote presentations at exams officer conferences and also produced a range of resources which highlight the importance of the exams officer role and to support exams officers in their role. These resources include:

  • Exams and assessment checklist – for running a successful exam series
  • Student checklist – to help students prepare for their assessments
  • A blog – ‘A day in the life of an exams officer is never dull or boring’
  • A short film about the role of the exams officer to raise awareness with centre staff and parents
  • Top tips from exams officers for keeping mobile phones out of the exam hall 


JCQ has updated its General Regulations for Approved Centres to include the following requirements which heads of centres and senior leaders must ensure that:

  • …the headteacher/Principal on site (the head of centre) may not appoint themselves as the examinations officer. A head of centre and an examinations officer are two distinct and separate roles (General Regulations for Approved Centres, section 2.5)
  • …the examinations officer…receive(s) 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 (General Regulations for Approved Centres, section 5.3c)
  • …the examinations officer has sufficient time to perform their role and familiarise him/herself with relevant awarding body and JCQ documentation (General Regulations for Approved Centres, section 5.3c)
  • …a member of the senior leadership team…will provide effective support and supervision of the examinations officer to ensure that the integrity and security of examinations and assessments is maintained through an examination series (General Regulations for Approved Centres, section 5.3e)

JCQ has also recognised key elements of the exams officer role where there has been a call for greater clarity/support by:

  • attempting to define the role and responsibilities of the SENCo (and exams officer) in relation to access arrangements
  • supporting the submitting of exam entries to deadline by confirming that a failure to adhere to awarding organisation key dates and deadlines is defined as maladministration

Exams officer survey 2023

The NAEO annual Exams Officer Survey confirms the following:

  • Salaries for exams officers are increasing
  • An increasing number of heads of centres/senior leaders understand and appreciate that the exams officer role is an all-year round role
  • An increasing number of centres have contingency and succession plans in place in the event of the absence or departure of their exams officer
  • An increasing number of exams officers are:
    • employed on full time contracts
    • receiving support from an exams assistant or similar administrative support
    • line managed by a senior leader within their centre


The evidence is clear – in recent years, the work of the NAEO and key stakeholders has helped to raise the profile and status of exams officers and the pivotal role which they perform within each centre. Heads of centres and senior leaders are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of supporting their exams officer and ensuring that they receive the appropriate training to ensure that their centre is complying with JCQ and awarding organisation rules and regulations.

Key stakeholders within the education sector appreciate that good teaching and learning must be supported by a robust assessment system, and thanks to the work/lobbying of the NAEO, there is a growing awareness that it is the exams officer who ensures that integrity and security are placed at the heart of the examination system within each centre.

Although good progress has been made in recent years to raise the profile of exams officers and the role which they perform, there is still much work to be done before the NAEO can claim to have achieved its core aim. The launch of the Exams Officer Professional Standards in early 2024 will be a key element in further professionalising the role and helping to establish the exams office within each centre as a ‘standalone’ department with direct line management from a senior leader, however, as the 2023 survey has revealed there are several areas which must be addressed to support exams officers in their everyday role. 

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