At Ofqual, and regardless of the weather, our minds are always on the summer. We’re either thinking about the summer exam series just gone or the one to come. Sometimes we’re thinking about the series after that.
We’re not alone. The exam boards, through the JCQ, have already published the key dates for the 2019/2020 academic year.
The exam boards will each publish their individual provisional June 2020 timetables on 28 February 2019 and will invite comments on them until the end of April. This is your chance to influence next year’s timetable, so do take the opportunity to comment. While the exam boards won’t be able to accommodate the preferences of every school and college for every subject, if there is a consistent pattern then the timetable may be amended. Comments should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Back to this year. The 2019 timetable has a new feature – a contingency day on 26 June 2019. This will be used if a significant, unexpected event arises nationally or locally during the exam period such that no students (or a large number of them) are able to take an exam when planned. Of course, we all hope there won’t be such disruption and that the contingency day won’t be needed. But students should be available throughout the exam period, including on that day, in case their planned timetable is disrupted. You might want to add 26 June 2019 to your students’ exam timetables to make sure they all save the date and don’t make other commitments that could mean they are unavailable, just in case…..
Every school should have its own contingency arrangements in place so they are ready to deal with unexpected local disruption too. If you haven’t yet brushed off yours, updated it for this year, and made sure everyone is ready to deal with the unexpected, perhaps now is the time to do so. This information should also help you understand what to do in the event of disruption: 'What schools and colleges and other centres should do if exams or other assessments are seriously disrupted'
Also in the interests of making sure exams run smoothly for you and your students, you might check your arrangements for managing timetable clashes are up to date, fit for purpose and understood by those who need to know. In most cases schools and colleges manage timetable clashes without incident, but sometimes things go wrong; this can have upsetting consequences for those affected. Students must be supervised and without access to phone, computer etc if they are not taking an exam in the scheduled slot.
Finally, if you’re an exams officer, we’re currently preparing some additional resources for you to use with students and colleagues this year, which we’ll advertise in coming weeks.
If you would like to talk to Ofqual about any of the issues raised in this blog, please contact us at email@example.com.