Examinations: The deadline is looming...

Written by: Jugjit Chima | Published:
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The deadline for summer exam entries is approaching, with stiff penalties for late submissions. Jugjit Chima offers some advice

With pressure on school budgets increasing, it is imperative that summer exam entries are submitted to deadline, which is on February 21, with an earlier interval deadline agreed to support your exams officer in making entries across a range of subject and qualification areas.

Failure to do so will not only lead to the financial penalty of late exam entry fees being incurred, but also introduces the risk of candidates not being entered for their GCSE/GCE examinations.

Therefore, heads of department and the senior leadership team all have a pivotal part to play in ensuring that exam entries are submitted on time.

Awarding bodies work tirelessly to support schools in ensuring that entries are submitted by the February deadline, as committing resource to administering late entries is not cost or resource effective.

However, middle managers and senior leaders should be aware of the penalties occurred as a result of missing this critical exam entry deadline. For example, the late entry fee for a 180-student cohort taking GCSE maths is approximately £6,000.

The task of ensuring that summer exam entries are submitted by the deadline rests with your exams officer, yet this is a very busy time of year for all exams officers. As well as completing exams entries, there are a range of other exams-related tasks to undertake before half-term – these include November exam results (and post-results), January exams (both external and mocks) and submitting access arrangement applications.

However, their key focus will be to ensure that summer exam entries are made within the deadline – something which requires thorough planning, and the support of all heads of department and senior leaders.

Not only can these colleagues ensure that individual members of staff provide the necessary information to the exams officer in the appropriate format, but they are also key in ensuring all staff understand that this information must be provided to an internal deadline which is at least two weeks prior to February 21.

An internal deadline is imperative to provide exams officers with ample time to submit entries to several awarding bodies across numerous subject areas. This task can take several days and therefore, as a guide, your internal deadline for information to be submitted to your exams officers should be around February 6.

Below are some additional tips which may help schools in ensuring that exam entries are made on time:

  • Ensure that subject staff submit all information electronically to the exams officer so there is a record of all correspondence/data relating to exam entries.
  • Ideally, your exams officer should submit entries prior to February 21 to allow for unexpected circumstances (for example, exams officer absence, school closure, etc).
  • Exams officers should clearly highlight the information required from subject staff.
  • Ensure that all heads of department and senior leaders are aware of the financial penalties associated with late exam entry fees.
  • Ensure that your exams officer is aware that it is more cost-effective to enter candidates and then make amendments (to candidate data or entry information) or withdrawals (removing a candidate’s entry or entries). Amendments and withdrawals have a later deadline date, and therefore, within this deadline, changes can be made to final entry information after it has been submitted to an awarding body without charge.
  • If you encounter any issues, do not hesitate to contact the relevant awarding body – they are there to help you and also want to avoid late entries as this increases the pressure on their resources at a critical time of the year.

Sometimes issues occur which cannot be avoided – for example, subject staff may be absent and therefore exam entry information cannot be acquired or confirmed. In such cases, your exams officer should speak to the awarding bodies and explain the situation – that you will be entering all students with the expectation that there may be amendments/withdrawals.

Your exams officer should keep everyone informed of the situation, and also highlight this to the department(s) concerned and email relevant staff members to confirm the action taken.

The date by when these amendments/withdrawals will be made should also be confirmed in consultation with your exams officer as he/she will be aware of the deadline for these changes. If the member of staff in question is absent for a prolonged period, a decision will need to be made by teaching staff and the senior leadership team over which candidates are to be entered.

The exams officer role requires good planning and support from colleagues, particularly from line managers and senior leaders – and never is this more necessary than when submitting exam entries.

  • Jugjit Chima is one of the founders of The Exams Office, an online support tool for exams officers. Visit www.theexamsoffice.org. You can read Jugjit’s previous articles for SecEd via http://bit.ly/2elLbrr


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