Exams office staff affected by burn-out over reforms


Education Editor

School and college staff responsible for running GCSE and A-level exams could quit their jobs in large numbers because of burn-out linked to the constant upheaval in the system, a new report warns.

Many are expected to step down this September rather than face a guaranteed three more years of changes to the examination system, according to the Examination Officers’ Association.

The association represents staff in school or college exam centres responsible for the smooth running of examinations – ensuring there are no timetabling clashes between different qualifications, overseeing invigilation arrangements and making sure those who are ill or disabled get extra time for their exams.

Many have already suffered cutbacks in the resources necessary to help them to carry out their roles, according to the study, which looks at how they have coped with the changes in exams this year.

It concludes: “For some there does seem to be a culture of insecurity around which can only add more stress to those individuals who may be already working in very difficult situations. Everyone has their low moments when under stress, but just getting by ‘year in year out’ will take its toll eventually, and the ‘burn-out’ of exams staff is a growing concern.

“In the first week of this summer’s exams, the EOA was getting a request each day from centres that had suddenly lost their exams officer. Many of the cases were simply down to stress, and in some of those centres there may be no expert exams office staff to process results [next week for A-levels and the following week for GCSEs].”

The EOA has set up an emergency service to exams centres to help them to cope.

The report adds: “As we approach this autumn, more exams office staff will start to review their position as the new wave of reform sweeps in, and for some they will have experienced changes in exams since 2000. That is 14 years of continual pressure from educational change.

“The system needs to prepare itself for further change over the next few years.”

Andrew Harland, chief officer of the EOA, added: “We’ve always looked at what people’s intentions are for the next year, and the percentage that have said they are reviewing their situation as to whether to carry on has gone up.

“This year, because there are major changes for the next three years, we just anticipate more people will do so.”

The report says that staff have been “more robust and resilient” than expected this year, so that the system at present “may be creaking but it’s far from broke”.

However, it adds: “Without a proficient exams office workforce, the system will begin to creak because it is the exams office community who are the interface between the internal activities associated with teaching and learning and the external public exams system.”

This year there has been a switch from coursework to sudden death end-of-term exams – a trend that will continue over the next three years. In addition, more schools are embracing rival examinations to the GCSE and A-level which can cause conflict over timetabling arrangements.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “We make no apologies for radically reforming GCSEs to address the grade-inflation which has undermined public confidence in our exams system and led to many young people leaving school without the skills required by employers sand universities.”

She added: “Our reforms will ensure we have an exams system that parents, employers and universities have confidence in.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Pre School Practitioner

£6 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued expansion, they are loo...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development & Relationship Manager

£45000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Development & Relati...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant - Startup

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Personal Assistant is require...

Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific