Jayne Harris, Customer Support Manager for the North East, Yorkshire and Humberside
In her first blog, Jayne Harris, our new Customer Support Manager for the North East, Yorkshire and Humberside explains what question paper materials you’ll receive when and provides some tips on managing them effectively.
As the exam series rapidly approaches, I thought it might be helpful to give you an overview of what we’ll be sending you in the coming weeks from OCR and share some of the top tips from my previous role as an exams officer.
Starting at the beginning of May we’ll be sending out question papers weekly for our general qualifications (AS, A Level, FSMQ, GCSE, Core Maths) and Cambridge Nationals. All Cambridge Technicals question papers will be sent together at the start of May. You can see the specific despatch dates in our key dates spreadsheets.
This is the first summer series we’ve sent weekly despatches (previously we sent them every two weeks). We hope this means you won’t run out of space to store your question papers but we do appreciate this means you have more deliveries to manage.
It’s worth remembering we send a ‘despatch email’ for every question paper despatch – this contains the DHL tracking reference, which you can use to set up reminders and check who’s signed for your delivery.
Please note that modified papers are sent separately to the main question papers and, while they may arrive at the same time, in some cases, they may arrive a couple of days before the exam date.
In all cases, Braille question paper materials will be sent separately – they’re sent via Royal Mail special delivery tracked service (and you won’t receive a despatch email for these papers).
It’s critical everyone involved in the process understands their role and responsibilities. These are outlined in the JCQ Instructions for conducting examinations.
The receipt log must be completed and you must have robust arrangements in place to guarantee confidential materials are never left unattended. The JCQ has a handy receipt log template available which you can adapt to use for your own centre. Remember, the JCQ inspector may ask to see your receipt log at an inspection visit.
All confidential materials need to be transferred to the secure room for checking immediately.
Remember, your reception staff, or any other member of staff, can also refuse to take delivery if there’s no one appropriate to receive them or they can’t be stored securely immediately!
If you experience any issues receiving your question paper materials, please do let us know. Our logistics team tracks every delivery and follows up all reports with our courier, DHL, directly.
The exams officer or authorised person must open the boxes and check the materials in your secure room. These must be checked as soon as possible on the day you receive them and, if that's not possible, no later than the next working day. If they can't be checked on the day of receipt, the boxes must be placed, unopened, in your secure facility until the next working day.
You can use the JCQ Exams Materials Receipt Log template and adapt it for your centre. Alternatively, you could use a copy of your centre timetable showing the number of entries within your secure room before materials start to arrive and use this as your log.
For modified papers, you might want to print the individual timetables for any students requiring modified question papers and display them in your secure room – to mark off when received.
When checking confidential question papers:
Tip: Prepare your ‘second pair of eyes log’ before exams start. You could use the JCQ template or you could print out a copy of your centre timetable with additional columns for two signatures, time and date of checking/opening for use on the exam day.
Following the checking, question paper packets should be arranged in timetable order and stored immediately in the secure storage facility. How you organise your question papers will depend on the size and type of your secure storage but clearly indicating the different dates and sessions helps to reduce the risk of selecting the wrong question paper on exam day.
Remember: Your secure storage facility must only contain current and ‘live’ confidential materials. Mock/internal papers may be stored in the secure ‘room’ but must be always kept separately from ‘live’ awarding body material and be clearly identified.
For general qualifications and Cambridge Nationals, we’ll send your script return labels (yellow and white) and attendance registers with your question papers in an ‘admin pack’. Unlike the question paper packets, you can open the envelope containing these as soon as they arrive.
For Cambridge Technicals, we’ll send your script return labels and, if applicable, attendance registers with your script return envelopes at the start of May (not with your question papers).
Tip: Check these off on your centre timetable to confirm receipt and then file them in date order in a file within your secure room, one file per awarding organisation. Always replace earlier issued labels with the most up-to-date ones. Check the date/session/component codes carefully to make sure they’re correct.
If you’ve not received labels a week before an exam, please contact our Customer Support Centre to request replacements. If you still haven’t received your labels within three days of an examination, for general qualifications and Cambridge Nationals, you can request one emergency replacement label from OCR Interchange. If you need more than one label or need a Cambridge Technicals label, please contact us.
For general qualifications and Cambridge Nationals, you should already have received your exam stationery – this includes generic answer booklets, data booklets and script return envelopes. If you’re missing anything or need any more items such as four-page continuation booklets (OCR4), you can request these from our Customer Support Centre. You can see everything that we send (and also that you need to provide) for each exam in our stationery listing.
For Cambridge Technicals, as I mentioned above, we’ll send script return envelopes with your script return labels at the start of May. We don't send four-page continuation booklets (OCR4) as standard for Cambridge Technicals as there’s plenty of answer space already included in the question paper. However, if you find your candidates do need some extra pages, you can request the continuation booklets by calling our Customer Support Centre on 01223 553998.
Remember: All exam stationery must be stored in the secure room and returned there at the end of every exam. It’s good practice to store stationery in the secure storage facility if you have the space, but it’s not mandatory.
We’re here to support you, so if you have any queries about digital question papers, please contact us on 01223 553998 or email us as firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jayne Harris – Customer Support Manager for the North East, Yorkshire and Humberside
Jayne joined OCR in January 2022 as the Customer Support Manager supporting centres in the North East, Yorkshire and Humberside. She has worked within the education sector since 1997. She has over 16 years’ experience as an Exams Manager within secondary schools and Sixth Form colleges so can relate to the challenges EOs face on a daily basis, but also remembers how rewarding the role can be. Jayne is passionate about providing the highest standard of support to our customers.