Training and Supporting New to Role Exam Officers

Summer Exams 2021

We are living through extraordinary times and now have seen the cancellation of two main summer examination series.

The government were previously confident that the summer exams of 2021 were to go ahead. Everyone wanted to avoid the situation of what can be best described as the chaos of the summer 2020 exams. The algorithm that never was! Results issued, withdrawn, statements issued about the process and then withdrawn. It was a difficult time for many people involved within education and the exam process.

We now know the summer exams of 2021 have been cancelled. Although little seems to have been done to have a plan and procedure in place to replace these.

It is not a criticism of anyone, as we all try to find some stability and overcome the challenges in a very difficult global situation.

The government have made it clear they remain committed to ensuring students receive a grade that reflects their work and what helps them to progress on their life journey.

So, what do we currently know about what is planned for the summer 2021 exam series? The Department for Education (Dfe) and the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulations (Ofqual) have launched a consultation on 2021 exams and assessment, and we await an update to see what is planned for summer 2021.

The Ofqual announcement is due out on the 22nd of February – the day after the main summer exam entry deadline!

We also await full information from the awarding body on their fee structure for this year. Last summer the awarding bodies gave credits and refunds to centres, based on the cost savings involved with having no exams.

It is of paramount importance though that students are informed about what is happening. It can be difficult to keep students engaged in learning, even more so when this is done remotely, and they do not currently know how their vocational and general qualifications are going to be awarded. Some simply will give up.

There are also those students who are classed as private candidates to consider and how to fairly award them a grade.

Exam officers still need to process and submit their summer entries though and by the deadline of the 21st of February 2021. Most centres will do these through their management information systems, whilst smaller centres do it directly through the awarding body secure websites

For new to role exam officers, it can be a daunting time. Trying to find your feet, in an unknown situation. Many are now working from home, so even more isolated than previously. It is virtual new exam officers feel fully supported and trained. The turnover in the role has always been high, with no improvement shown over recent years.

It is also a requirement of Joint Council of Qualification (JCQ) registered exam centre approval that the senior leaders with responsibility for exams, both experienced and new exam officers and the SENCo receive appropriate training and support to ensure compliance and effective delivery of the whole exam cycle.

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