December 2019 – Creating an effective invigilation team in your centre
This month’s blog is written by Jugjit Chima, co-founder of The Exams Office and Head of Training, who considers the key aspects in creating an effective invigilation team.
The importance of investing in your invigilation team should not be underestimated. This means developing an effective evaluation, recruitment, appointment and training programme….
Invigilators play a key role in the conducting of examinations – they can ‘make or break’ an exams series in your centre. Therefore, as the ‘manager’ of the invigilation team, it is imperative that every exams officer invests the necessary time in developing an effective invigilation team within their centre.
There are five key areas which exams officers should address to ensure that they have prepared their invigilation team ahead of this summer’s exams series.
- Evaluate your current invigilators
An evaluation of the performance of each invigilator is good practice for two reasons. Firstly, to recognise those who have performed well in the role, and conversely, to highlight areas in need of improvement. By conducting an evaluation of each invigilator, you can also conduct discussions based upon evidence – this is particularly useful if you are looking to remove an individual from your invigilation team.
Here are some of the areas which you may consider as part of the evaluation process:
- Reliability and punctuality – Did they attend every session? Did they attend on time?
- Knowledge and training – Have they undertaken any independent learning/study of the regulations? How did they perform in any assessment? How did they deal with any issues in the exam room?
- Interaction with candidates and staff – Have you had any feedback (positive/negative) regarding any dealings with candidates and staff?
- Support for colleagues – Were they a ‘team player’? How willing were they to support any invigilators who were new to the role or your centre?
- Record keeping – Did they complete the incident log – and any other materials (e.g. exam room checklist) – as required/to enable you to deal with any issues?
- Support for the exams officer – Have they helped you in your role (e.g. acting as the second pair of eyes, preparing exam room material boxes, packing/dispatching scripts etc.)?
- Recruit good invigilators
It may be easy to state, but how do you recruit ‘good’ invigilators?
As with many aspects of the exams officer role, there needs to be a plan when recruiting the right people as invigilators.
If you have an invigilator who is performing well in the role, ask them if any of their friends/associates would also be interested in joining your team – stress that there will be an interview process, but a good invigilator is more likely to highlight correct procedures/good practice.
Naturally, individuals who have experience of working in a school/college setting have an advantage when it comes to invigilating, and this is even more significant if they are familiar with the school/college in which they will be invigilating. Therefore, as teachers retire, identify those who may successfully undertake the role of an invigilator and ask if they would be interested in joining your team. You may also want to approach Governors to act as invigilators. Not only do they get an insight into the exams officer role and the significance of conducting examinations in line with the JCQ regulations, but as an individual with some responsibility/influence, they may be a useful ally for the exams office in your centre.
- Devise a clear and accurate job description
You should not expect invigilators to undertake the role without a clear understanding of what is expected of them. A job description should include:
- General requirements – detail the basic requirements for the role, for example; any current maladministration/malpractice sanctions, availability, confidentiality and security arrangements, flexibility, communication and interpersonal skills, confident and reassuring presence, etc.
- Main duties – highlight the importance of following regulations, for example; an awareness of JCQ/awarding body regulations, integrity, etc.
- Before the examination – identify the main tasks which need to be undertaken prior to an examination, for example; briefing, security, exam room set up, candidate ID, instruct candidates, distribute papers and materials, how to start examinations, etc.
- During the examination – highlight tasks/issues which may need to be dealt with during an examination, for example; supervise/observe candidates, deal with emergencies/irregularities, record/report incidents, complete attendance registers, etc.
- After the examination – identify the role of an invigilator at the end of the examination, for example; how to end examinations, collect scripts, dismiss candidates, check candidates’ scripts for correct information/match attendance register, securely return exam scripts/materials to the exam officer, etc.
- Other duties – be clear in what other duties may be expected of your invigilator – rather than general statements. For example; attend/complete training and update sessions, supervising timetable clash candidates, invigilating/facilitating access arrangements, undertaking the ‘Second pair of eyes check’, etc.
- Ask the relevant questions during an interview
Even if you are not inundated with applications to join your invigilation team, it is important that you conduct an interview. This is an opportunity for you to confirm that you are appointing the right person, and for the prospective invigilator to ask questions.
The interview process does not need to be lengthy, but there should be some confirmation/discussion around the skills, knowledge and experience of the candidate.
Exams officers could focus upon the following areas:
- Ascertaining skills acquired in previous roles – for example; IT, communication, people management
- Knowledge/experience of working in an education environment
- Examples of when regulations have been followed
- Present the candidate with scenarios and ask for their response
Examples of the types of questions which could be asked at interview include:
- How would you deal with a candidate who refuses to do as he/she is being told?
- Are you familiar with completing online assessments?
- Have you worked in a school/college environment?
- Have you worked under strict regulations?
- Describe the role of an invigilator
- Can the Head of History be in the exam room when the History exam is taking place? (even if the candidate is not aware of the JCQ regulations relating to this scenario, you should identify the thought processes which underpin the candidate’s response).
- Deliver effective and engaging training for your new and experienced invigilators
Although there are several options in relation to the training of invigilators, new exams officers find this area particularly challenging as they are still becoming familiar with the JCQ regulations themselves.
However, regardless of experience, the JCQ regulations clearly state (Instructions for conducting examinations, page 21):
A training session must be held for any new invigilators. An update meeting must be held for the existing invigilation team so that they are aware of any changes.
A record of the content of the training given to invigilators must be available for inspection.
It is also stated that invigilators;
‘…must be familiar with these Instructions (for conducting examinations) …’.
The above confirms that your invigilation team must be aware of the contents of the Instructions for conducting examinations, particularly the sections which are relevant to their role. This is a significant amount of content to cover, so consideration must be given to how this training is to be delivered.
Here are some options for training your invigilators:
- Devise your own training programme using the JCQ Instructions for conducting examinations booklet and the JCQ Checklist for invigilators.
- Online resources – The Exams Office have a range of training support materials, including a training PowerPoint template.
- Online assessments – ensure that your invigilators complete The Exams Office online training and assessment modules for new and experienced invigilators. These will help you confirm the understanding of your invigilators, and any areas in need of further support/training.
- Face-to-face training (1) – invite one of The Exams Office invigilator trainers to deliver a training session in your centre.
- Face-to-face training (2) – send up to 3 of your new invigilators to one of The Exams Office free invigilator training sessions taking place across England in March.
Managing invigilators is a core part of the exams officer role. It is important that time is invested in planning for this aspect of the job, and that training sessions are well planned to ensure that all of the JCQ regulations – and centre specific requirements – are addressed. Failure to do so could lead to an unnecessarily fraught exams series for an exams officer with possible far-reaching consequences not only for the exams officer, but also the candidates, the head of centre, and the centre as a whole.
Please see The Exams Office website for a range of support materials relating to invigilation, including (you must be logged in to view these materials):
Provides an overview of areas that may need to be considered when recruiting, training and deploying a team of invigilators
Provides an example job description which can be customised
If it has been determined that additional invigilators are required and a recruitment campaign is underway, it is time to prepare for interviews – this brief guide provides an overview of areas that may need to be considered in the process
Provides a way of collecting availability and required information from invigilators
Provides an example spreadsheet to collate invigilator availability information into a single point of reference
Provides a way of confirming JCQ and awarding body regulations and instructions are known, understood and followed by invigilators
Pre-exams (training invigilators)
Provides a brief overview of issues that might need to be considered as you prepare to train your invigilators
An example PowerPoint presentation for training invigilators including the use of the Invigilation videos
Notes to support the delivery of the training presentation above
An example training evaluation form designed to complement the training presentation above
An example certificate of attendance designed to complement the training presentation above
An example template to record the training given to invigilators
Provides an example invigilator handbook designed to complement the training presentation above
- Access arrangements: training presentation template (for facilitators and invigilators supporting and supervising candidates)
An example PowerPoint presentation for training facilitators supporting access arrangement candidates and invigilators supervising access arrangement candidates
An example training evaluation form designed to complement the training presentation above
Exam time (deploying invigilators)
Provides a framework on which to build a customised checklist for your centre to ensure visits to every required exam room are conducted in a consistent manner and in accordance with JCQ requirements
Exams review (gathering feedback from invigilators)
An example form to gather feedback from invigilators and inform exams review
Invigilator training videos
The Exams Office – in conjunction with OCR – provides a series of JCQ-compliant online video clips incorporating the latest rules and regulations relating to invigilation
These are intended to support our members in training their invigilators
The commentary on our invigilator training videos for use in the 2019/20 academic year has been updated in line with relevant JCQ 2019/20 publications
Video clips focus upon:
- The role of an invigilator
- (At the beginning of the examination) Starting the examination
- (During the examination) Dealing with irregularities (including emergency evacuation)
- (During the examination) Dealing with malpractice
- (Finishing the examination) Ending the examination
- Collecting the scripts
Access arrangements videos for facilitators and invigilators
Exams blog archive
- September 2019 – There’s no rest for an exams officer… (written by Lisa Longstaff, Dunottar School)
- October 2019 – As the work from one exams series ends, another starts… (written by Marcia Woods, TEO Invigilator Trainer)
- November 2019 – Should exams officers act as invigilators? (written by Jugjit Chima, Head of Training at The Exams Office)
- December 2019 – Creating an effective invigilation team (written by Jugjit Chima, Head of Training at The Exams Office)
All views and opinions expressed in Blogs are the authors own
The Exams Office takes no responsibility for any outcomes in centres as a result of the information provided on our website or within our documentation. It is the responsibility of centres to apply this information as they deem necessary within their own centre. You should always contact/refer to the relevant awarding body for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding their qualifications.