The exams officer community:

Exams officers are the interface between the internal teaching community in their centre and the external public exam system. With your expertise and leadership you can take more positive steps, with your professional body's backing, to ensure your centre is fully aware of what you do and how you have to operate so you can secure more cooperation and support internally  If nothing else, this will make your job easier. The best way to do this is to promote and demonstrate the your value to the SLT, teachers, parents and students not only throughout the year, but especially during live exam sessions.

The EOA need people to share their experiences, on the website, in newsletters and on social media. There will be surveys and various follow up activities where exam officers can talk to the outside world, instead of continually being talked at and in some cases talked down to, by the system upon which your efforts depend.

Contact your local group and promote your activities through your representative professional body the EOA at [email protected]

The exams centre community: 

The delivery of students at the end of each academic year is not just the work of teachers, nor is it just under the control of exams officers during exam sessions. All are part of a centre team and all seek more support and help in their areas. With cuts in budgets and staffing, it is even more important for all to work more closely together in order to achieve their goals.

Therefore, it is essential that exams officers become more involved with their teaching colleagues to win support for themselves and the smooth functioning of the examinations. There is a much greater opportunity for success if exams officers focus more on being part of their centres aspirations, rather than just seeing themselves as an extension of an externally controlled exam system. As long as exam officers operate as simply functional administrative staff delivering exams on behalf of an externally controlled exams system, they will never be given the status they desire.

It could be argued that there seems to be a very limited desire on the part of the exam bodies and their representative organisations and companies to offer any support or help to exams officers who appear to challenge their control and authority over the system. This one sided control they advocate works if the controlling entities have the resources to manage the system effectively. This is not the case as exam bodies are having to review their delivery model in response to government reforms that impact on their revenue streams.

So, the call for more a collaborative approach by the EOA community has nothing to do with challenging the existing system, but is simply to help make it work for everyone, including the exam bodies. It is not in anyone's interests to have systems and practices, and organisations serving the exams system that are under pressure or are dysfunctional.

The wider community affected by the exam system:

The members of the wider community referred to here are students and their parents/carers who have to cope with the education and exams sector from primary school through to secondary school and into Further and Higher education.

External Candidates:

External candidates - often referred to, inappropriately, as 'private candidates'. This word 'private' implies that in some way these students always have the funds to support their own education and exams. This is often so far from the truth. This group may include asylum seekers, SEND students or come from PRUs, prisons and hospitals. Some 86,000 students who for whatever reason engage make up this group.

Internal candidates:

The majority of learners between the age of 11-19 attend a formal school or college to undertake their education and it is to such establishments that the exam system turns, with strict controls by exam bodies, of whom there are over 130, on how these registered exam centres and their staff operate, both for general and vocational qualifications. 

However, the exams bodies operate a range of different processes and procedures to support their various qualifications and over the years this has thrown up problems in centres trying to cope with all the changes to the education and exam system as result of a host of government reforms.

It can therefore be difficult for an established exams centre to meet every single need of an individual learner under a system which is designed around the majority education and exams user. In order to maintain the security and confidence in the exam system, it may appear to some, that the system is inflexible and not accessible This is especially the case for some SEND candidates.

The SEND learners access the exams system through a process called Access Arrangements, which are framed by the exam boards to help maintain the security of their exam system. It has to be questioned whether this is the best way to support the education of these students. The EOA is lobbying  the teaching profession, exam bodies and government to reduce the level of control of Access Arrangements from the exams system  and to seek to involve teachers, who are in the best position to evaluate student needs, much more, without compromising the integrity of the system. 

The process outlined below should remove much of the frustration students and parents/carers feel with the education and exams sector. It should also give teachers back their professional control over their students’ educational experience and reduce costs across the educational and exam system.