July 2021 – Preparing for and managing results days

 

This month’s blog is written by Marcia Woods, formerly exams officer at Brookfield Community School and currently a trainer with The Exams Office, who considers how exams officers can prepare for and manage results days.

 

Firstly, well done to each and every one of you for the pivotal role which you have played in submitting Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) and sample evidence in recent week….I hope that your efforts have been recognised by senior leaders in your centre.

 

Hopefully by the time you read this blog submitting TAGs and sample evidence will be a fading memory and you may have been able to have a few days to catch your breath. I know that some of you will have been, or will still be, running mock/trial/PPE exams so you may yet be waiting for that day when you realise you actually have time to sit down and enjoy your lunch in peace….and perhaps even get to go home at the proper time!

 

However, as we know, the work of an exams officer is all year round so no doubt your thoughts will now be turning to those crucial days in August when the confirmed results are received from the awarding bodies and the process begins of distributing these to your students.

 

This year results days do not follow the usual calendar format.  If you are in a 11-18 school dealing with AS/A levels and GCSEs you are going to have an extremely busy week, and everyone will need to ensure that they are aware of the changed dates for this year.

 

From one minute past midnight on Monday 9th August 2021, you will be able to download AS and A level results via A2C into your Management Information System (MIS) in order to prepare the results to be distributed to students from 8.30am on the following day, Tuesday 10th August. Normally, you would have a week to manage any AS/A level enquiries about results and requests for priority appeals, however, this year there will be no breathing space and you will be busy downloading GCSE and other level 1 and 2 results on Wednesday 11th August ready for distribution to students from 8.30am on Thursday 12th August.

 

Please note – Following a request from the Department for Education and having consulted with a number of teaching associations, JCQ and the exam boards, exceptional circumstances are in place in for summer 2021. The embargo for the release of this summer’s GCE and GCSE results to students has been moved from 8am to 8.30am.

 

The move has been made to coincide with the timing of the UK-wide release of Higher Education (HE) application outcomes. It also aims to minimise the potential for student anxiety in having to wait 30 minutes between the receipt of their results and learning of their HE application outcomes. The embargo change will cover AS and A level results on the 10th August and GCSE results on the 12th August to ensure consistency across exam centres. The new embargo time for the release of results applies to England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

 

Further information on the release of General Qualification results can be found on the JCQ website, whilst The Exams Office has published an Information for Candidates – Results, Appeals and Certificates template which may be of use.

 

So, one of your most important tasks for July will be making sure that you are totally prepared for these back-to-back results days. Now is the time to dust off the JCQ exams policy that you and your SLT created and submitted in April to check what plans your school made for results days and beyond. The areas covered by the JCQ template were as follows:

 

  • All staff involved have been made aware of the specific arrangements for the issue of results in Summer 2021, including the issuing of A/AS and GCSE results in the same week

 

  • Arrangements will be made to ensure the necessary staffing, including exams office and support staff, to enable the efficient receipt and release of results to our students

 

  • Arrangements will be in place for the provision of all necessary advice, guidance and support, including pastoral support, to students on receipt of their results

 

  • Such guidance will include advice on the appeals process in place in 2021 (see below)

 

  • Appropriate staff will be available to respond promptly to any requests for information from awarding organisations, for example regarding missing or incomplete results, to enable such issues to be swiftly resolved

 

  • Parents/guardians have been made aware of arrangements for results days

 

Hopefully, you will have a comprehensive plan in place which also considers the finer details of what will happen on the day. You may want to consider the following ten areas:

 

  • Have you let your students and their parents know the details of when and where to collect their exams results and what to do if they will not be able to collect their results in person? You may want to use the Candidate permission form template which is available on the TEO website

 

  • If you are not usually in for school holidays, will you be coming in from 9th to 12th August, or do you have a delegated deputy who will download and distribute results? Even if you are planning to manage results days yourself, what is the plan if you are indisposed; do you have a substitute who knows how to import and download the results? If you are a new exams officer, do you know how to do this? We all know that surprise events really do happen in real life now

 

  • How will you check that all your IT systems are up and running before the onslaught of download day? Will you come into school or log-on on Monday 9th August or check things out the previous week? Sometimes your IT team might use the quiet of the holidays to update systems, so make sure they are aware you need to be fully ready for the big days. On the download days will you need to be let in to school earlier than usual? In my experience download days are surprisingly long and full-on, importing results takes quite a time and then you will need to prepare results slips along with spreadsheets of overall results for departments (although hopefully you will not have any changes made to the TAGS you submitted). You may also need to set up embargos on your MIS so that teaching staff cannot access results before they have been distributed to students; this may seem a bit pointless this year but should be done as a matter of good practice. Make sure your site staff know when you will need to be on the premises so they will be available to let you in and out of school

 

  • You will need to start thinking now about how your results will be presented to students. Will you need to prepare special paper to print results on? I used headed notepaper but needed an amended batch without the usual footer to be specially prepared. Do you have access to toner cartridges for the printer in the holidays? Do you need to order envelopes to put the results sheets in, and label them for each student? Are you going to enclose a covering letter with results with information about appeals? Will your sixth form staff want you to include information about what GCSE students need to do to confirm their place in sixth form? I would expect them to write that document though!

 

  • If a student cannot collect their own results on the day, will you permit someone else to collect them; will you want written permission from the student, and should the delegated collector bring ID with them?

 

  • If you are planning to email results to students, can you prepare these in advance with an embargo until 8.00 am on results day? Personally, I would very rarely give results out by email or telephone. If you are going to offer to share results via email or telephone you should consider the impact upon your workload as if this is requested by several students. If you are willing to give results out by telephone you will need to make sure you confirm the identity of the caller. This document on the TEO website – A guide to managing confidentiality and security in the exam cycle – will give you more information. Ensure that students who are permitted special arrangements to receive their results know that they may have to wait until you have dealt with issues in school before you will be able to contact them

 

  • You may also need to have some posters prepared informing students where to go to collect their results and who they can talk to if they have questions – possibly members of SLT, subject teacher or careers guidance staff

 

  • Make sure that you have booked specific staff to give results out to students, you may have centre staff to help, or could this be another role for your invigilators

 

  • You will also need to plan where results will be distributed – in the school hall? Outside? What furniture will you need arranging and will your site staff be responsible for that, or will you need to help?

 

  • You will also need to check your policy to ensure you know what the process will be if you receive any appeals against results

 

 

I know this seems to be a long list of questions, but like so many things involved with exams each centre will have a slightly different way of doing things so I wanted to give you some areas to think about to spark your own ideas, particularly if these will be your first results days as an exams officer.

 

Finally, I want to express my deep admiration for all of you for dealing with another extraordinary year for exams, and for life in general. I sincerely hope that things will get back to a bit more like normal next year and we will be able to get together for training events and the winter conferences, I can’t wait to meet up again.

 

Fingers crossed you will all get some time for rest and relaxation over the summer and the sun shines on you all even if you can only enjoy it in the UK.

 

The next blog –  The National Association of Examinations Officers – What are its aims and objectives and why should I join? – will be published on 1 September.

2020/21 Exams blog archive

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.