Mock exams can be a trial

In 2003 when workforce remodeling was introduced and teaching staff parted company with exams delivery, at that time many in establishment felt, and still do, that this role was just part time.  The module style exams delivery model was in its infancy back in 2013 and the perception was, if teachers could deal with teaching and running an exam office, then this exam office role must be part time, so let’s just pile on other tasks to make it a full time role.


At that time the EOA was encouraging staff, to counter this misperception, to take on running all the mock exams programmes in their centres in order to lay down the foundations for establishing practices and processes to be used in public exams environment. This embedding of good practice became less important under the modular system because there were so many public exam slots where this training of staff and students could be repeated time and time again, and mocks became less important across the upper age range taking public exams.


Despite the policy of government to reduce the number of exams, and the slots available, what everyone is now experiencing is even greater pressure within this one summer time slot, with some centres now adding both upper and lower school mock exams, requiring the exams office to manage the centre’s delivery.


There are two major points to make note of. Firstly, as suggested earlier, and commonly done across the exam offices, it is good practice to be involved in mock/trial exams for the reasons given above, but only with the full support of teaching staff and SLT. How can the exams office team operate a full internal mock/trial exam system at the same level of a public exam system, in isolation, especially with lower school students with whom they may have had no contact at all?


Secondly, the days of trying to operate live public exams at the same time, and/or alongside mock/ trial style exams are not supported under the JCQ guidelines, and from a logistical point of view one must ask the question, can one maintain strict exam conditions across the whole centre for a long period of time without compromising the public exam system? The easy answer to this problem is not to have wholescale mock/trial exams in centres during an already pressured summer exam period and the EOA will be writing to the various teaching representatives over the next few weeks to share your concerns on this trend.