This year there have been changes to the JCQ regulations on conflicts of interest and to make sure you’re as clear on this new guidance as possible, I’m going to provide you with a bit more of an explanation about the process and outline what this means for your centre. You can find the full details in the JCQ General Regulations for Approved Centres Booklet, section 5.3 (d).
The regulations have been changed this year to make sure we are collecting the key information we need to manage any conflicts in relation to the assessment, and to make sure centres know what their responsibilities are.
What is the purpose of the conflicts of interest process?
The conflicts of interest process is designed to protect the integrity of our assessments. We want to make sure they remain fair and we also want to make sure individuals at your centre are protected where there is potential, or a perception, that they could be influenced by any personal interests. As awarding bodies, we also have a duty to report and record any conflicts of interest within our own organisations.
Who is responsible for managing the conflicts of interest process at your centre?
It is the responsibility of the Head of Centre to manage the conflicts of interest process. The JCQ General Regulations do not provide a detailed set of instructions about how the centre process should be managed – this is for your Head of Centre to determine. However, they do provide clarity and detail on what must be reported to the awarding bodies and what information to keep on record within the centre.
When do conflicts of interest declarations need to be submitted to OCR?
The new regulations state that awarding bodies must be informed about conflicts of interest before the published deadline for entries.
What needs to be submitted to OCR?
There are now only two instances where you must tell us about a conflict. We need to know about any members of centre staff who are:
Exams officers are no longer included in the list of people who need to be declared to us if they have any conflicts, unless they fall into either of the two categories above.
How are conflicts of interest submitted to OCR?
To let us know about a conflict of interest at your centre as described above, please complete our online centre staff declaration form before the published deadline for entries.
Once you have submitted your conflict of interest, you do not need to take any further action. We will get in touch if we need anything more from you!
What centre records should be kept about conflicts of interest?
The Head of Centre must make sure that his or her centre maintains clear records of all instances where:
These records must include details of what measures have been put in place to mitigate any potential risk to the integrity of the qualifications affected. These records may be inspected by a JCQ inspector and/or awarding body staff. They might be requested in the event of concerns being reported to an awarding body. You must keep these records until the deadline for reviews of marking has passed or until any appeal, malpractice or other results enquiry has been completed, whichever is later.
In addition to the above requirements of what should be recorded at your centre if there are any other situations which you feel could be, or at least perceived to be, a potential conflict it is best practice to record this.
It’s important to remember these guidelines are put in place to make sure the examinations system remains as honest and open as possible. Having full visibility of any potential conflicts of interest, and the arrangements to handle these, adds a layer of protection from any compromising situations which may arise.
I hope you have found this post useful and that it has helped clear up any uncertainties around submitting any centre staff declarations this year for OCR qualifications. If you do have any further questions about managing conflicts of interest at your centre, please get in touch and our team will be happy to help you.
Alison Leather - Customer Support Manager (South East)
Alison is Customer Support Manager for the South East region. The Customer Support Team provides support, training and guidance for centres administering OCR qualifications.
Alison has worked in education since 1995, as an Exams Manager in a college, a Centre Support Officer with the National Assessment Agency (NAA) and an Exams Officer in a secondary school – so she knows how challenging and rewarding it can be working in the exams office. Alison joined OCR as Customer Support Manager in 2007.