2011 update but please read on!
Last autumn the present government closed down the newly formed Schools Support Staff Negotiating Board (SSSNB) which was looking into trying to establish some form of framework for pay and conditions for the growing number of support staff in education. Part of that process was to consider setting up a better framework that would take into account the role and responsibilities of exams office staff across the country. That proposed framework is illustrated below in Table 2.
The EOA will continue to fight for such a framework which would give exams office staff some form of career development while trying to equate appropriate renumeration against the growing workload and responsibilties being imposed on this role.
Getting to grips with your job re-grading!
The following information is provided as a guide to help you in two ways. Firstly to help you understand how YOUR role may currently be defined by various Local Authorities and at centre level resulting in you being given an inappropriate grading. And secondly to help you understand how your role might be classified under future plans to review all support staff roles by a new government body being set up this autumn.
The table below is taken from information gathered from a variety of different LAs. and is part of a broader research project on all support staff roles. Today, support staff make up some 44% of staff in schools and colleges. However, while the table below may be viewed in very general terms it does throw up some very disturbing patterns for our members.
Some LAs and centres take advice from non teaching unions to define job profiles, grades and therefore pay. This has in some cases resulted in mis-information on the scope and scale, in terms of responsibility and management, of the role that many exams office staff carry out in centres. Perceptions on the evolution of the role since Curriculum 2000, have had an impact on the exam community and have often been outdated and inappropriate. The EOA have been actively engaged in talking to unions and government departments to address any misconceptions.
Clearly, exams office staff and especially exams officers, who fulfil this role within 80% of schools
find themselves being dumped into the bottom Group 1 with lower pay scales. The one major factor that seems to dictate this lower definition is that exams office staff management role has been totally forgotten or ignored. Some suggest this is a convenient way of saving money at local authority and centre level. The reaction of some exams officer staff to being treated like this is to leave their jobs feeling all their effort is not being acknowledged.
Let us be clear that the problems besetting exams office staff is part of a broader development affecting all support staff roles, with business managers and even bursars being drawn into this debate over inappropriate grading. While the table below and this dialogue might help you to understand why some exams office staff has been confronted by the re-grading and its unfortunate outcomes, the major question must be, how do we force change.
The EOA , is not a union but has been campaigning on this issue since its creation and while the profile of exams office staff has been raised and promoted under the pass NAA modernisation programme, the LA re-grading issue has undermined much of that good work. Indeed the valued impact of their training and systems tools will continue to be less effective if a more sustainable workforce is not secured quickly. The EOA's push for the professional development of its members will help but the next table may provide members with a clearer view of the future.
A possible future structure!
Around the country the following titles are being used in various forms and applications. The following table tries to embrace these roles and apply them to the earlier perceptions and structures. Clearly, under such a structure exams officers improve their status on the pay scale front but many argue that, within schools, they already are Exams Managers in their own right and should have had this aspect of the role reflected in their LA re-grading process. As mentioned earlier because many LAs reviews of job roles are outdated or in appropriate when trying to embrace the change that has taken place in the role, their appeals process is just as flawed. Exams office staff have already in some parts of the country experienced this process and feel very dispirited that such systems do not reflect their reality and feel the whole system is letting them down.
The EOA was going to put up on the website suggested job content that would match these job titles and sample salaries from profiles drawn up by the SSSNB. However, that organisation was dismantled by this government and is no longer active.
Sample workload template:
In the mean time have a look at the following research on exams office staff in five centres. You can use the tables and grids to help you define your title (defining your key role(s), your work load usually related to the range and volume of exams taken in your centre over a given academic year), the time allocated to you to do your job (this can be broken down into time slots per day and put onto a termly and yearly table) and finally what hours you are paid for and does your centre allow for example, time in lieu for excessive hours or paid overtime.
(note: We are just working on getting the whole research article uploaded onto the system as quickly as possible. Its quite a large file with lots of graphics so may need to be cut down for easier downloading)
It is important to build a picture of your job role and above all capture whether you feel you fit into any of these job titles. Clearly, as one moves down the table accountability will increase and it is that increased accountability and responsibility that helps define what appropriate scale, grade and therefore salary a person should be on, depending on the size of the centre and the scale of the job role. In colleges often the Exams Manager may have a team made up of a number of EOs and/or assistants who carry out very targeted activity with limited responsibility, while in many schools the sole exams officer is confronted with having to cope with it all and do it all.