BTEC deletion’s deadline looms

31 January – write that date in your diary!
Then email all your BTEC First course leaders and remind them that if they want refunds on their 2012-13 deletion’s they need to provide you with names TODAY!
Make sure that you email Pearson Edexcel to claim a refund too! The email address is in the Administration Manual. You will need the candidate registration number to claim the refund.
Good luck with balancing your budget.

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The Examinations Office is busy right now!

During October/November 2012 I am still working on Summer 2012 exams, I have forecast grades and exams to run for November 2012, I am planning January 2013 exams and setting up the Basedata for March and Summer 2013. So I’m currently working on five exam seasons at once.
I am also running weekly (or sometime more often) MidYIS and YELLIS tests for student who wish to join the school mid year. This allows them to be assessed to determine which tutoring sets to place them in.
BTEC registrations have now all been made and I have downloaded all the recent registrations to a spreadsheet so that I can track them all. I am currently preparing the school handbooks for the various BTEC areas so that they are up to date with the most recent regulations issued by Edexcel.
They are not the only documents that I’m updating, I have already created the school examination calendar and posted that to the school website so that parents, students and staff know when all the different exams are. I am still working on a guidance document for students and parents and the most recent version of the Invigilators handbook and training.
I also need to make sure that I am up to speed on all the regulations before Wednesday of this week, when I am host to our local Exam Officers Network meeting and the revised regulations are an agenda item.
Overall, things are quite busy at the moment as you can see. And I haven’t even mentioned the certificates that need checking in and sorting before the Presentation Evening in November.
If you are not an Exams Officer/Exams Manager, but work with one – please treat them with courtesy – they are not just ‘Admin’ staff (no-one is!), they have just as an important to role to do in the school as the next person.

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Juggling skills – Essential

One thing that all Exams Officers/Managers need to be able to do, is juggling!
Think of all the deadlines that you have coming up, along with all the other tasks you have to do and you will no doubt agree. Here is my list:
8 October = Transferred candidate deadline for November GCSEs
I have a meeting booked with our BTEC Quality Nominee to make sure that we get all our BTEC registrations done on time and correctly
9 October I am interviewing an Invigilator applicant
10 October = Estimated Entries deadline for summer 2013 exams
I am running CABT tests during P1 and P2 and during P3 I am meeting our Head of Science to ensure January GCSE entries are all in order. English and GCE entries signed off already.
After school staff training to attend tonight as well.
12 October = March Basedata is released, so another cycle kicks in to overlay the others

On top of this are the other tasks: create a school exam timetable for the year, check in GCSE certificates and sort them ready for presentation in November, print KS4 school achievement certificates for Head Teacher to issue to current year 10 and 11’s, prepare seating arrangements and book Invigilators for November exams, make entries for January exams, make BTEC registrations, upload new Year 7 photos to MIS, issue various letters / statement of entry lists / exam timetables to students, create various student lists for SLT for monitoring purposes, ensure that for new students starting I have all previous exams data available from previous school, invigilator management (training etc), read JCQ regulations AGAIN because they’ve changed them a great deal again this year.

A long list! Kept deliberately bunched up as a paragraph rather than a list so that it has to be read rather than scanned down quickly. Every EO’s list will be different and mine is actually longer than that, but to type it all wouldn’t have made any difference to the point of this post.
We are all busy and we all have different other roles besides our Exams one, but we still have to meet the deadlines or else!
Or else everything falls to pieces around us!

While you are juggling all your tasks and meetings, make sure that you have rest and relaxation too. The eye fails, the muscle moves too slow to catch the falling ball, all for want of a break, a moment to flex the muscles and stretch them out. I am taking all of half term for my holiday away this year. I have told staff that deadlines are earlier, that I won’t be around to do last minute entries or do last minute tweaks to anything. If they fail to deliver to me, I cannot deliver to the school, the students or to them. I hope they have been listening.

I shall be relaxing and juggling my decision about which book to read next or what tempting tasty morsel to eat!

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Summer entries – done and dusted

Summer entries were all completed and submitted on 10 February this year, as we had been told that our Internet connection would be unavailable during half term. Turns out plans were changed and we do have connection, but the entries got made just the same.
It’s given me chance to run some candidate progress reports for a couple of the subject HODs to double-check their entries before the deadline
I’ve also been through and checked for clashes – none found – big hurrah!
Then I’ve roomed every exam, ready for discussion with the Deputy Head after half term.
And I’ve sat on reception and answered the phone while I was doing all that today.
Quite pleased with what I’ve achieved today, after all.

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Exams office staff need to think about their holidays now

Now it’s coming to the end of the holiday year, it’s worth Exams Office staff thinking about the coming year. Ideally plan out a calendar of key dates, exams and such like so that you know when the busy periods are going to be. Then think around the dates when you are allowed to take holiday, for example in my school we may only take holidays during non-term time (difficult I know, and more expensive as well).
Then using your planner slot in the times when you MAY take holidays and pick the dates that you prefer.
Don’t forget to factor in any days that you are entitled to take as time off in lieu for the time you worked extra during the exams season. Make sure that this is also included in your contract so that you can’t be deprived of time that you worked for nothing. You have a right to be recompensed for your work.
I tend to take holiday the beginning of July as time off in lieu, October, Christmas, and February, along with a few extra days thrown in for relaxation when there is a short break at half term or the like, as holidays.
Make sure that you enjoy yourself, you deserve it – exams work is intense and tiring.

Exams finished for the day

Well, that’s the scripts checked off against the Attendance Registers and packed up ready to send. Stashed away in the safe until ParcelForce turn up to sign for them.
Now to make sure that everything is in order for Wednesday’s exam. I’ve got invigilator’s booked and allocated to their rooms, the seating plans are printed ready to go up the night before and the packs for the day are all prepared.
My colleague has spent the morning shadowing me and will hopefully be able to do the same on Wednesday to boost her confidence in the event of me ever being unable to get in to run the exams myself.
Time to take a look at the entries for Summer and the seating for March. But before that, some lunch I think. It’s important to look after one’s health when exams are on the go. :o)

Exam invigilators – training preparation

I spent the majority of one day of the last week of Autumn term preparing training materials for my invigilators.
The handbook had to be updated in line with the latest regulations for the new academic year.
I also needed to ensure that the school specific information is up to date. For example, the change in SLT membership, key staff and Invigilator colleagues changes each year.
I also finished off developing training materials for February 2012. I’m basing it on the generic training released by the old QCDA (with amendments and updates); and feedback on the exams management and systems from the last academic year.
I quite enjoy preparing training materials, then presenting them and seeing the fruits of my labours. I was fortunate to be trained in developing training packages by a professional and like to produce sessions that are engaging and educational. Let’s hope I’m successful with this one.

Exams staff need to take their holidays

Have you booked your holidays for the coming year yet? By 8 April last year I had planned the majority of my year. I had booked 4 days after Easter, a week in July, October half term and a week at Christmas. None of which conflicted with any of the deadlines for exams related matters and at the same time met the requirements of my employers for when I may take my holidays. It seems that if you work in ‘exams’, regardless of what you are doing, it has to be well planned 🙂