EXAMINATION POLICY and CONTINGENCY PLANNING

1. Exam Policy
2. Examination Contingency Plan
3. Examination contingency plan details
4. Policy for Severe Disruption/Evacuation during External Examinations
5. Exam Room Incident Log

1. Exam Policy

Introduction

The centre is committed to ensuring that the exams management and administration process is run effectively and efficiently. This exam policy will ensure that:

  • all aspects of the centre exam process is documented and other relevant exams-related policies, procedures and plans are signposted
  • the workforce is well informed and supported
  • all centre staff involved in the exams process clearly understand their roles and responsibilities
  • all exams and assessments are conducted in accordance to JCQ and awarding body regulations, guidance and instructions, thus ensuring that the integrity and security of the examination/assessment system is maintained at all times and is not brought into disrepute” [JCQ General regulations for approved centres)
  • exam candidates understand the exams process and what is expected of them.

This policy is reviewed biennially to ensure ways of working in the centre are accurately reflected and that exams and assessments are conducted to current JCQ (and awarding body) regulations, instructions and guidance.

This policy will be communicated to all relevant examinations centre staff.

Roles and responsibilities overview

The head of centre:  Sandra Feerick – Community Education Standards Manager (Deputy)

Understands the contents, refers to and directs relevant centre staff to annually updated JCQ publications including:

    • General regulations for approved centres (GR)
    • Instructions for conducting examinations (ICE)
    • Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments ( AA)
    • Suspected Malpractice in Examinations and Assessments (SMEA)
    • Instructions for conducting non-examination assessments (NEA) (and the instructions for conducting controlled assessment and coursework)
  • Ensures the National Centre Number Register Annual Update (administered on behalf of the JCQ member awarding bodies by OCR) is responded to and approves the Head of Centre formal declaration
  • Ensures the exams officers attend appropriate training events offered by awarding bodies, MIS providers and other external providers to enable the exam process to be effectively managed and administered
  • Ensures centre staff are supported and appropriately trained to undertake key tasks within the exams process and are aware of the contingency plans in place

Exams officers: Cathy Cummings, Lesley Brownlow, Ange Powell

  • manages the administration of series exams
  • advises the management team, subject and class tutors, and other relevant support
  • oversees the production and distribution, to all centre staff and candidates, of an annual calendar for all exams in which candidates will be involved and communicates regularly with staff concerning imminent deadlines and events.
  • ensures that candidates are informed of and understand those aspects of the exams timetable that will affect them.
  • checks with tutors that the necessary coursework and/or controlled assessments are completed on time and in accordance with JCQ guidelines.
  • provides and confirms detailed data on estimated entries.
  • maintains systems and processes to support the timely entry of candidates for their exams.
  • receives, checks and stores securely all exam papers and completed scripts and ensures that scripts are dispatched as per the guidelines.
  • administers access arrangements and makes applications for special consideration following the regulations in the JCQ publication A guide to the special consideration process, in consultation with the Access Arrangements Co-ordinator
  • Identifies and  manages exam timetable clashes.
  • accounts for income and expenditures relating to all exam costs/charges.
  • ensures candidates’ coursework / controlled assessment marks are submitted, and any other material required by the appropriate awarding bodies correctly and on schedule.
  • tracks, dispatches, and stores returned coursework / controlled assessments.
  • arranges for dissemination of exam results and certificates to candidates and forwards, in consultation with the tutors and Curriculum Leads, any post-results service requests.

Principle Invigilator/Access Arrangements Coordinator: Lesley Brownlow

  • organising the recruitment, training, and monitoring of a pool of examination invigilators responsible for the conduct of exam
  • lead on ‘exam day’ processes according to JCQ regulations
  • leads on the access arrangements and reasonable adjustments process
  • works with the person appointed as qualified Access Arrangements Assessor, on all matters relating to assessing candidates and the administration of the assessment process
  • on consultation with the exams officer, processing decisions on post-results procedures.

Curriculum Leads:

  • guidance and pastoral oversight of candidates who are unsure about exams entries or amendments to entries.
  • accurate completion of entry and all other mark sheets and adherence to deadlines as set by the exams officer.
  • accurate completion of coursework / controlled assessment mark sheets and declaration sheets.

Tutors:

  • ensuring all registers are accurate for registering learners with awarding bodies
  • supplying information on entries, coursework and controlled assessments as required by the Curriculum Lead and/or exams officer

Designated technical officer:

  • uploading photographic/video/audio evidence and/or electronic assessments in consultation with exams officer

Invigilators:

  • collection of all exam papers in the correct order at the end of the exam and ensuring their return to the exams office.

Candidates:

  • confirmation and signing of entries.
  • understanding coursework / controlled assessment regulations and signing a declaration that authenticates the coursework as their own.
  • ensuring they conduct themselves in all exams according to the JCQ regulations.

Qualifications Offered

The qualifications offered at this centre are decided by the Education and Performance Manager working with the Community Education Officers and Essential Skills Officer.

The Centre is accredited to run a suite of both end-tested and portfolio-based qualifications.  The end-tested qualiciations are:

  • OCR GCSEs – Psychology and Maths
  • OCR Functional Skills English, Maths and ICT
  • AIM Qualifications and Assess Group Level 4 Diploma in Counselling Practice

Informing the exams office of changes to a specification is the responsibility of the Curriculum Leads.  Decisions on whether a candidate should be entered for a particular subject will be taken by the tutor in consultation with the Curriculum Lead and the relevant Community Education Officer.

Entries, entry details and late entries

The Centre does not accept entries from private candidates.  Community Education Officers working with Curriculum Leads will provide estimated entry information to the exams officer to meet JCQ and awarding body deadlines, who registers them on-line.  .

Entries and amendments made after an awarding organisation’s deadline (i.e. late) require the authorisation, in writing, by the relevant Curriculum Lead and/or Community Education Officer.  GCSEs resits are allowed.

Access arrangements

It is the responsibility of both the tutor and the Community Education Officer to supply the examinations team with information that will enable them to apply for access arrangements for learners.   FACE as a Service has a duty to ensure that reasonable adjustments/actions are applied to reduce the effect of a disability or difficulty that places any learner at a substantial disadvantage in the assessment situation. However, we will ensure that these Access Arrangements do not compromise the assessment process or the assessment objectives and may involve: changing standard assessment arrangements.  The reasonable adjustments the Service can apply for include:

  • allowing learners extra time to complete the exam
  • adapting assessment materials
  • providing access facilitators during assessment, for example a sign language interpreter or a reader.

Ensuring there is appropriate evidence for a candidate’s access arrangement and submitting completed access arrangement applications to the awarding bodies is the responsibility of the Coordinator of Access Arrangements, working with the Specialist Assessor.  Rooming for access arrangement candidates and facilitating support for access arrangement candidates, as defined in the JCQ access arrangements regulations, will be organised by the Principle Invigilator.

Awarding Organisations and Centres are only required by law to do what is reasonable in terms of giving access. What is reasonable will depend on the individual circumstances, cost implications and the practicality and effectiveness of the adjustment. Other factors, such as the need to maintain competence standards and health and safety, will also be taken into consideration.

Managing invigilators

The Principle Invigilator recruits and timetables suitably trained, DBS-approved internal staff as invigilators as required

Malpractice

The Head of Centre in consultation with the Community Education Standards Manager and the part-time Education and Performance Manager and is responsible for investigating suspected malpractice.

Exam days

The Principle Invigilator works with the exams officer and the centre manager to book all exam rooms after liaison with other users and make the question papers, other exam stationery and materials available for the invigilator.

The Principle Invigilator is responsible for setting up the allocated rooms, and will be advised of requirements and timescale in advance.

The allocated invigilator will start and finish all exams in accordance with JCQ guidelines.

Subject staff may be present at the start of the exam to assist with identification of candidates. Any staff present must be in accordance with the rules defined by JCQ concerning who is allowed in the exam room and what they can do.

In practical exams, subject teachers’ availability will be in accordance with JCQ guidelines.

Exam papers must not be read by subject teachers or removed from the exam room before the end of a session.

After an exam, the exams officer will arrange for the safe dispatch of completed examination scripts to awarding bodies.

Candidates

The exams officer will provide written information to candidates, including timetable details, in advance of each exam series. A formal briefing session for candidates may be given by the relevant tutor.

Learners’ personal belongings remain their own responsibility and the centre accepts no liability for their loss or damage.

In an exam room candidates must not have access to items other than those clearly allowed in the instructions on the question paper, the stationery list, or the specification for that subject. This is particularly true of mobile phones and other electronic communication or storage devices with text or digital facilities. Any precluded items must not be taken into an exam room.

Disruptive candidates are dealt with in accordance with JCQ guidelines. Candidates are expected to stay for the full exam time at the discretion of the Principle Invigilator.  There is a designated ‘floating’ invigilator who must be around and contactable, in order to accompany learners who leave an exam room for a comfort break.

The Principle Invigilator is responsible for handling late or absent candidates on exam day in accordance to JCQ guidelines.

Special Consideration

Should a candidate be unable to attend an exam because of illness, suffer bereavement or other trauma, be ill or otherwise disadvantaged or disturbed during an exam, then it is the candidate’s responsibility to alert a member of staff immediately.

The candidate must support any special consideration claim with appropriate evidence within the deadline set by the awarding body.  The Access Arrangements Coordinator will make a special consideration application to the relevant awarding body within 14 days of the exam.

Results

Candidates will receive individual results slips on results days either by:

  • in person at the centre
  • being collected and signed for – permission must be given by the candidate and the exams officer must be certain of the identification of the recipient
  • via appropriate Community Education Officer in consultation with the exams officer at the course delivery venue.

Exam results must NOT be given out over the telephone.

Enquiries about Results (EAR)

EARs may be requested by centre staff or the candidate following the release of results with the awarding body’s Post Examination window, usually a period of 4-5 weeks.  A request for a re-mark or clerical check requires the written consent of the candidate.

If a candidate’s request for an EAR is not supported, the candidate may appeal and the centre will respond by following the process in its Internal Quality Assurance document.

All processing of EARs will be the responsibility of the Reasonable Adjustment Coordinator in conjunction with the exam officer, following the JCQ guidance.

Access to Scripts (ATS)

After the release of results, candidates may ask subject staff to request the return of written exam scripts within the Post Examination window as set by the awarding body.

An EAR cannot be applied for once an original script has been returned.

Processing of requests for ATS will be the responsibility of the Access Arrangements Coordinator in conjunction with the exams officer.

Certificates

Candidates will receive their certificates either:

  • in person at the centre
  • by arrangement, via their Community Education Officer at the course delivery venue
  • on behalf of a candidate by third parties, provided they have written authority from the candidate to do so, and bring suitable identification with them that confirms who they are

All certificates must be signed out in accordance with the centre policy and learner destination recorded for monitoring purposes.

The centre retains certificates for 7 years.

2. Examination Contingency Plan

Purpose of the plan

This plan examines potential risks and issues that could cause disruption to the management and administration of the exam process within Knowsley FACE.   By outlining actions/procedures to be invoked in case of disruption it is intended to mitigate the impact these disruptions have on our exam process.

Alongside the Exam Policy already in place, this plan is informed by scenarios contained in the Joint contingency plan in the event of widespread disruption to the examination system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

This plan complies with JCQ general regulations (section 5) in that:

The centre agrees to “have in place a written examination contingency plan/examinations policy which covers all aspects of examination administration. This will allow members of the senior leadership team to have a robust contingency plan in place, minimising risk to examination administration, should the examinations officer be absent at a crucial stage of the examination cycle.”

Causes of potential disruption to the exam process

1. Exams officer extended absence at key points in the exam process (cycle)

Criteria for implementing plan –

If the key tasks required in the management and administration of the exam cycle are not undertaken, the impact could be the following:

Planning

  • annual data collection exercise not undertaken to collate information on qualifications and awarding body specifications being delivered
  • annual exams plan not produced identifying essential key tasks, key dates and deadlines

Entries

  • awarding bodies not being informed of early/estimated entries which prompts release of early information required by teaching staff
  • candidates not being entered with awarding bodies for external exams/assessment
  • awarding body entry deadlines missed or late or other penalty fees being incurred

Pre-exams

  • candidates not briefed on exam timetables and awarding body information for candidates
  • exam/assessment materials and candidates’ work not stored under required secure conditions
  • internal assessment marks and samples of candidates’ work not submitted to awarding bodies/external moderators

Exam time

  • candidates’ scripts not dispatched as required to awarding bodies

Results and post-results

  • access to examination results affecting the distribution of results to candidates
  • the facilitation of the post-results services Centre actions:

Centre Actions:

MIS Lead, Community Education Officers, Education and Performance Manager and Access Arrangements Co-ordinator to ensure essential information is collated, and to delegate Exam Officers’ duties to an appropriately trained individual or individuals as rapidly as possible.

2. Access Arrangements Co-ordinator extended absence at key points in the exam cycle

Criteria for implementation of the plan

Key tasks required in the management and administration of the access arrangements process within the exam cycle not undertaken including:

Planning

  • candidates not tested/assessed to identify potential access arrangement requirements
  • evidence of need and evidence to support normal way of working not collated

Pre-exams

  • exams/assessments not taken under the conditions prescribed by awarding bodies
  • required reports/requests not submitted to awarding bodies during exam/assessment periods approval for access arrangements not applied for to the awarding body
  • modified paper requirements not identified in a timely manner to enable ordering to meet

external deadline

  • staff providing support to access arrangement candidates not allocated and trained

Exam time

  • access arrangement candidate support not arranged for exam rooms

Centre actions:

Business & Inclusion Manager and Education & Performance manager to appoint a suitably qualified individual [or individuals] as rapidly as possible, who will follow procedures and practices within this remit.  The Specialist Assessor used by the Service would be first port of call.

3. Curriculum Leads extended absence at key points in the exam cycle

 Criteria for implementation of the plan

 Key tasks not undertaken may include:

  • Early/estimated entry information not provided to the exams officer on time; resulting in pre-release information not being received

Final entry information not provided to the exams officer on time; resulting in:

  • candidates not being entered for exams/assessments or being entered late
  • late or other penalty fees being charged by awarding bodies
  • Internal assessment marks and candidates’ work not provided to meet submission deadlines

Centre actions:

Education & Performance manager, Community Education Officers and individual course tutors to consult and ensure curriculum continuity by requesting alternative member(s) of the Service takes responsibility for the actions above.

4. Invigilators – lack of appropriately trained invigilators or invigilator absence

Criteria for implementation of the plan:

  • Failure to recruit and train sufficient invigilators to conduct exams
  • Invigilator shortage on peak exam days
  • Invigilator absence on the day of an exam

Centre actions:

  • Examinations Officer and Lead Invigilator to maintain a short list of suitable candidates.
  • Examination Officer to review training procedures regularly and put in place additional training as required.
  • Examinations Officer and Lead Invigilator to ensure a specific Exams Day Contingency Plan is in place (Appendix 1)
  • Examinations Officer and Lead Invigilator to ensure an Incident Log is in place (Appendix 2)

5. Exam rooms – lack of appropriate rooms or main venues unavailable at short notice

Criteria for implementation of the plan:

  • Exams officer unable to identify sufficient/appropriate rooms during exams timetable planning
  • Insufficient rooms available on days when other courses are on or when additional rooms are required, for example, in the event of the learner requiring own room with scribe
  • Main exam hall unavailable due to double booking [the Centre is part of a Community Building]

Centre actions:

  • Pre-planning at all stages is essential.
  • Centre manager, Examinations Officer and Lead Invigilator to continually review all stages of the process.
  • Use of neighbouring Children’s Centre as first option as alternative venue for examinations

6. Failure of IT systems

Criteria for implementation of the plan

  • MIS system failure at final entry deadline
  • MIS system failure at results release time
  • Laptop not functioning for on-line or word-processed exams

Centre actions:

  • MIS Officer and/or examinations officer report to awarding body regarding failure immediately
  • Examinations Officer to contact Examination Boards for alternative route for dissemination of results
  • Ensure all laptops used for examination purposes are regularly serviced and portable drives are accessible

7. Candidates unable to take examinations because of a crisis within the Centre

Criteria for implementation of the plan:

  • Candidates are unable to attend the examination centre to take examinations as normal

Centre actions:

  • Exams officer to communicate with relevant awarding organisations at the outset to make them aware of the issue, and to communicate with learners regarding solutions to the issue
  • Examinations Officer to ensure a specific Emergency Evacuation Plan is in place (Appendix 2)
  • Exams officer/centre manager to liaise with Exam Boards to sit exams at a different venue in extremis.
  • Apply for Special Consideration for those affected to the appropriate Exam Boards.

8. Disruption in the distribution of examination papers

Criteria for implementation of the plan

  • Disruption to the distribution of examination papers to the centre in advance of examinations

Centre actions:

  • The centre to communicate with awarding organisations to organise alternative delivery of papers.
  • Arrange with exam board for alternative means of receiving papers either electronically or alternative courier.
  • Examinations Officer to ensure papers are kept securely until needed.

9. Disruption to the transportation of completed examination scripts

Criteria for implementation of the plan:

  • Delay in normal collection arrangements for completed examination scripts

Centre actions:

  • The centre to communicate with relevant Exam Board at the outset to resolve the issue.
  • Alternative transport should only be used with the agreement of the relevant Exam Board
  • Scripts must be stored securely until such time transport is confirmed.

10. Centre unable to distribute results as normal

Criteria for implementation of the plan

  • Centre is unable to access or manage the distribution of results to candidates, or to facilitate post-results services

Centre actions:

  • Centres to contact awarding organisations about alternative options
  • Arrange to access results at an alternative site
  • inform staff, students and parents as soon as possible of the change in distribution of results.

3. Examination contingency plan details

For taking exam papers out of the secure storage:

Keys and alarm code are used for the Secure Storage for exam papers and exam stationery

Where are the spare key to be kept – only Exams Officer and Lead Invigilator know, so they need to inform delegated Officer on a need to know basis

Alarm code needed for entry – only Exams Officer and Lead Invigilator should know it.  If given out, to the delegated Officer only

Designated Officer to ensure that no-one else other than Exams Officer or Lead Invigilator is around when accessing Secure Storage

Transparent communication at all times throughout the exam cycle

Manager of the building to be informed when series exams are on

Timetable widely published to all centre staff

Samples of seating plans, Invigilators notes, Setting out of exam rooms,  various ‘logistical paperwork and guidance’, to be on SharePoint

At least one up-to-date ICE booklet, JCQ General Regs, JCQ Access Arrangements, Invigilator Logs, Evacuation procedures, etc. to be kept in the Grey Box – at time of exam period, additional ICE booklets may be required depending on access arrangements and additional rooms.

Notices, spare pens, USB drives, etc., also kept in the Grey Box in the exams cupboard – batteries for the clocks could be kept there.

Useful email addresses & phone numbers:

OCR 01223 553998 general.qualifications@ocr.org.uk

OCR Special Requirements [Access Arrangements] team:  srteam@ocr.org.uk.

AIM Awards:  013320 241822 enquiries@aimawards.org.u

4. Policy for Severe Disruption/Evacuation during External Examinations

Possible Causes

  • Unreasonable noise disruption
  • Fire/Bomb/Flood Alert during an Examination

Unreasonable noise disruption

In the event of a severe disruption in an externally set examination, invigilators are advised to stop the examination, tell the candidates to close their answer books, make a note of the time and summon help (Exams Officer, Lead invigilator, Centre Manager) to sort out the problem.

Exam room conditions must be maintained.

When the disruption has been resolved the candidates can resume their examination and the time taken to resolve the issue added on at the end of the examinations. The candidates must be supervised at all times and thus the break in the examination can be regarded as ‘a supervised rest break’.

An incident log (Appendix 3) must be completed with the times of the disruptions noted. The Exams Officer to make Examining Body aware of the disruption if necessary.

Fire/Bomb/Flood Alert during an Examination

In the event of a fire alarm or bomb alert sounding (or any other emergency situation arising) during an examination, the first priority of the invigilators is to preserve life. The next priority is to ensure the security of the examination.

The invigilator should summon assistance, if there is time and it is appropriate, via the Exams officer and/or Centre Manager, who will confirm if immediate evacuation is necessary.  A decision will be made as to whether a full evacuation is necessary.

If the emergency is over quickly, the candidates should resume the examination. A careful note of the time of resumption must be noted and the full time allocated for the examination given to complete the examination, ignoring the interruption.  An incident log (Appendix 3) must be completed with the times of the disruptions noted and a Special Consideration form will be filled in so as not to disadvantage the candidates.

Procedure for Emergency Evacuation from an Examination

If it is necessary to evacuate the building, the lead invigilator should then stop the examination taking a note of the time and evacuate the building by row and in silence. The candidates must leave all examination papers, scripts and writing equipment behind, and in accordance with the school emergency evacuation procedures. The learners should remain supervised and in silence throughout the emergency. Several other members of staff will be needed to help police this.

In the event of an emergency that requires learners to evacuate buildings during an examination the usual evacuation point should be used but the examination candidates must be kept at a distance and in silence from other learners attending the Centre.

The emergency evacuation point for the Centre is the back car park.

At all times invigilators must act in accordance with section 16 of the ‘Instructions for conducting examination’ booklet. They should also summon assistance immediately an emergency arises. Silence should be maintained during the time the candidates are outside the examination room.

Section 16 of ‘Instructions for conducting examination’ booklet states:

The invigilator must take the following action in an emergency such as a fire alarm or a bomb alert:

  • Stop the candidates from writing.
  • Collect the attendance register and evacuate the examination room in line with the instructions given by the appropriate authority.
  • Advise candidates to leave all question papers and scripts in the examination room
  • Candidates should leave the room in silence.
  • Make sure that the candidates are supervised as closely as possible while they are out of the examination room to make sure there is no discussion about the examination. Make a note of the time of the interruption and how long it lasted.
  • Allow the candidates the full working time set for the examination.
  • If there are only a few candidates, consider the possibility of taking the candidates (with question papers and scripts) to another place to finish the examination.
  • Make a full report of the incident and the action taken (Appendix 3), and send to the relevant awarding body.

These guidelines are reproduced as an Evacuation Procedures document which forms part of each Invigilator’s Pack.

5. Exam Room Incident Log

This incident log is for the exams officer or invigilator(s) to use to record any irregularities1 that may happen in the exam room at the point of occurrence.  It forms part of the Invigilator’s Pack on exam day and is stored on SharePoint.

All irregularities must be recorded.

An exam room incident log should be used to record any irregularities.

After the exam(s) in this room have concluded, incidents recorded here will inform required follow-up actions or reports to awarding bodies. The incident log will be affixed to the seating plan, copy of the attendance register(s), and exam room checklist for this exam room session.

Irregularities are unplanned incidents that could impact on the security of the examination, breach the rules and regulations or affect the conditions that enable candidates to achieve their potential. Examples include: candidate late/very late arrival; suspected malpractice (candidate, centre staff); emergency evacuation; candidate illness/distress; disturbance inside/outside the exam room; unauthorised persons entering the exam room etc.

Details that need to be recorded on the Incident Log are:

Date

Time

Exam

Invigilator(s) names

Exam room

The wording:

‘In order to avoid potential breaches of security, care must be taken to ensure the correct question paper packets are opened. An additional member of centre staff must check the time, date and any other paper details before a packet is opened. [JCQ ICE 1, 11]

Prior to opening the above exam paper packets provided by the exams officer, I confirm that I have checked against the timetable that the date, session and paper details are correct’

The Incident description and times

Invigilator[s] Signatures