From behind the closed door of the exams/data office



Each month our 'secret' exams and data manager will be giving you an insight into their role. Below is their latest blog.



March 2017 - Looking ahead to summer...


Earlier this month, at the click of a button, “I” spent well in excess of £100,000. It is quite a feeling - but I certainly wouldn’t want the feeling which comes with missing the deadline and incurring double or even triple exam fees.

I always keep a screenshot of when all the files have been submitted just in case – or maybe that is just my OCD?!

I doubt that my line manager is aware of our annual spend on exam entries, but I see it as my role to manage this budget and keep late entry fees down to a minimum.

However, the feeling of satisfaction does not last long as once entries have been submitted I start planning for the summer exams series.   




It is clearly stated in the JCQ Instructions for conducting exams (ICE) booklet that all invigilators must undergo training and know what is expected of them, and I always ensure that no-one – teacher or invigilator - has ever set foot in one of “my” exam room and not known what is expected of them.

We have a team of thirty invigilators - the “A team” as they are affectionately named.  I am fortunate that many of them have been with me for years and I feel comfortable delegating duties to them. It really is important that you have trust in your invigilators to support you. I have lead invigilators who co-ordinate the others and undertake other tasks. However, before they are in a position to support me, I have to arrange the invigilator schedule, handbook, training and the training for those providing access arrangements. The list does seem endless, but it will be worth it…I ensure that I invest time in my invigilators as they can ‘make or break’ exams days.

If you are new to role and require some support to deliver your training The Exams Office is offering a members-only certificated 'Invigilator Training' package delivered in your school/college.

The students have received their timetables, with a copy of the JCQ notices and student handbook. Many of them will “misplace” their timetables so no doubt a second run will take place, but I am ready for that! That’s another aspect of the exams officer role which is important…anticipating issues and having a contingency plan in place.

Students are informed that they must come to the exams office if they have a clash on their timetable. Many do not, but luckily my MIS (Management Information System) can run a clash analysis report that helps me work through all the clashes and make arrangements to solve them. This year I don’t have as many clashes as in previous years so hopefully the JCQ asking us to consult on provisional timetables has proved helpful in this respect.

If exams need to be moved, I follow the instructions as set out in JCQ’s Instructions for conducting exams (ICE) booklet. The rules are clear and I ensure that I follow them ‘to the letter’.

If only a few students are involved in an exam clash, I work with them and discuss which subject they would like to take first. Some people may think by doing that I create more work for myself but I see part of my role as supporting the students, whilst also adhering to the JCQ regulations.

If you are new to role, or still feel new to role, don’t forget to check out The Exams Office termly exams and data checklists and their wide range of support materials.  The checklists are very useful when there is a lot going on, and can help make sure you do not miss anything.




All my assessment mark sheets and profile sessions are set up for this academic year…although I am not sure I can ever say profiles are fully set up, as anyone who uses it will know, the “tags” can be very unpredictable.




If you are new to role try and locate your local network group. This will prove to be an invaluable source of support in those early days and beyond as most exams officers and data managers are happy to share their experience, hints and tips. The Exams Office  has produced, with the help of OCR, a local network map, which is up to date and with contact details of the group organiser/lead.


Catch up next month and I will be here throughout the next few busy months...




Previous month's blogs will be accessible by clicking the links below:



The views expressed in this article represent those of an actual exams and data manager currently undertaking the role or someone who is a member of the exams/data community. This blog does not reflect the opinions of The Exams Office or any of their partner organisations
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