Exams Officer Professional Standards
The main aim of the NAEO is to raise the profile and status of the exams officer role. It is an area which has been talked about for several years by many organisations and associations but with little progress. Therefore, the NAEO has started work on developing a set of professional standards which will apply to anyone undertaking the exams officer role. These standards will be referred to as the Exams Officer Professional Standards.
The Standards will set a baseline of expectations for the professional practice and conduct of exams officers, and helping 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 the Standards have been created, they will need to be recognised by key stakeholders within the sector including the Department for Education, Ofqual and organisations representing heads of centres and senior leaders.
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
Today, by endorsing The Exams Office’s Exams Officer Digital Accreditation (EODA) (see our January article for further details) we are beginning to achieve our first aim of creating a formal process of measuring and recognising achievement in the 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.
By completing the EODA on an annual basis, and using this as part of an annual appraisal, exams officers will not only be confirming an up-to-date knowledge of JCQ regulations but also the expertise which is required to undertake the role, and more importantly provide evidence which challenges the perception that it is purely an administrative role.
We will support The Exams Office in regularly reviewing and developing the EODA to ensure that it meets the requirements of exams officers and continues to underpin the professional structure of the role.
Developing key skills
Another element of this professional structure 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. However, there is little or no support in developing these skills, or to know where to acquire support to develop these skills. The type of skills exams officers refer to include:
- Time management
- People management
- Contingency planning/Risk management
- Prioritising tasks
- Problem solving
- Handling difficult conversations
In the coming months, the NAEO will be appointing a group of exams officers to identify a list of key skills required to undertake the role, and then 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 key skills 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 – and they will also support exams officers in situations where they are compromised by 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.
We are aware of the dedication and professionalism of the exams officer community. The formation of a set of professional standards will support in evidencing this commitment to the wider education sector and help us in raising the profile and status of the exams officer community.
Chief Executive Officer, National Association of Examinations Officers