CPD vs Compliant based Training, discuss!


An unprecedented 97% of those who responded to the iEOA survey put continuing professional development (CPD) at the top of their list to help carry out their role effectively. What is surprising about this request is that it is being made against a platform, where there has been increased provision by exam bodies, through various agents, to help support exams delivery in centres.


Prior to 2014 the EOA, predecessor to the IEOA, supported various government and exam body programmes where it focused on providing exam officer practitioners to turn those JCQ policy documents and procedures into reality. But the focus on many of those programmes, as it is today, was only on a narrow but very important part of the exam system, namely, ’ high stakes’ general qualifications (GQs), taken in mainly schools. Of course, the exam system was not just made up of GQs and embraced a much broader range of ages and centres across the education sector. That approach to exams officer training still dominates exiting training and the iEOA will be more proactive in addressing this gap.


In the past training was therefore couched in terms of developing skills and knowledge that were related to specific useful competencies. This training had specific goals for improving the capability, capacity, productivity and performance of exam officers to deliver the exam protocols aligned to the most dominant exam-driven system, led by the JCQ exam body group. Therefore, if you are a school, and focus only on GQs then this type of provision is portrayed as the ideal model to serve exams officer needs.


However, that may not be the case across the education and exam sector and therefore this form of training, which does cover off an important part of the role, does not serve the rest of the exam system nor does it attempt to address the need to support the  personal development which the iEOA continues to promote through its St. Mary’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme since 2007.


The aim of personal and professional development is to help people manage their own learning and growth throughout their career. It is important that they continue to learn and develop in order to keep their skills and knowledge up to date and ensure they continue to work safely, legally and effectively. On-the-job learning and development should ideally take place in a centre and that is where more help and support is needed.


External events providing training for exam officers, which this organisation has supported in the past, still has its place for some, but without a backup at centre level and a change in the exam officer mindset over their own development, some of these training days are not the most effective way of spending taxpayers money.


The iEOA focus on training provides a foundation for CPD which is important because it delivers benefits to the individual, their profession and the public. The CPD approach ensures individuals will develop and maintain their capabilities to keep pace with the current standards of others in the same field because it is them taking responsibility for their own development.


At present, the majority of training is only delivered within a narrow context, to serve specific needs for a specific exams body sector. Again, if one only does those qualifications, delivered through a paper-based GQ system then the existing training environment that prevails may tick all the boxes for you. But what about the majority of centres dealing with a wider range of qualifications. And this training approach which has persisted for years has not stopped exam officer churn, maladministration or malpractice.


This is not to say that the existing training provided, which this organisation has supported in the past, is unsuccessful. On the contrary, it does have its place in supporting the exams officer community with initial training, but it’s just not enough to deliver an effective professionally focused workforce that will serve the future needs across all of the educational sectors.


The benefits of CPD can, therefore, be seen from two perspectives – that of the employee, and that of the employer. In the case of the latter, the exams officer whether they like it or not continually finds themselves, so it appears, with two employers, two masters. The Head of centre wants an exam free of issues, so all learners complete their exam commitments and fulfil their potential.


The JCQ on behalf of its members does not want the exam system compromised. Both sides, therefore, have a lot to lose if the exams officer gets it wrong, so maybe it’s about time those who depend on you most, start providing the sort of investment this community deserve and that needs to start right now!