Sir John Nelthorpe School

Sir John Nelthorpe School

Parent & Student Information

GCE And GCSE Public Examinations Information For Parents And Students


Public examinations can be a stressful time for students and parents and it is important that all those involved are as well informed as possible. Well-informed students will realise that the rules and regulations are designed to ensure fairness and minimise disturbance and it is in the interest of all that the exams run smoothly.

The centre will make every effort to ensure that candidates receive the best possible preparation for their examinations, that the administrative arrangements run smoothly, and that the examinations are conducted in a way that will cause as little stress as possible and help students to achieve their best. Mock exams are run to the same standards and rules in order that students are familiar with the process beforehand.

These pages are intended to inform about examination procedures, to answer some of the most frequently asked questions to help to guide and support students and parents through the examination process.

It also contains the formal notices that are required by regulation to be given to each candidate.

If you have any other questions please feel free to make enquiries from the exams officer. You can contact the exams office by telephone on 01652 656551 or email

On exams days it is best to contact the school office on 01652 656551 and leave a message, with the nature of your query, since the main priority will be the starting of exam sessions on time.

Who Is Responsible For The Examinations?

The centres' exams officer is responsible for administering all public examination arrangements and for oversight of students during exams, under direct responsibility from the head of centre, the headteacher.

There is a team of adult invigilators who will be present during the exams at all times and who are supervised by the exams officer.

The awarding bodies or examination boards set down strict criteria which must be followed for the conduct of exams, and the centre is required to follow them precisely.

Who Is Entered For Public Examinations?

It is centre policy to enter every student who is being taught a subject, for the most appropriate level of exam. Only by exception, after consultation with parents, and with the written consent of the Headteacher, will students not be entered.

Can Students Take Holidays During Term Time?

Dates for exams are rigidly fixed by the exam boards and are subject to change until close to the time of the exam. The exams officer will not give actual dates for exams to parents or students in advance, wishing to book holidays. Parents are reminded that they require the headteacher's permission to take students out of the centre and they book holidays during term time at their own risk. It is strongly against good practice and centre policy to take holidays in term time and could incur a fine from the local authority.

Controlled Assessment

Some subjects have an element of coursework included in them which is now called Controlled Assessment. This has to be completed, marked and assessed under supervised conditions within the school. The work is marked by teachers and the marks are sent to the exam boards well before the formal exam sessions take place. The centre will produce a timetable for this process that will meet the board deadlines. These dates cannot be changed. Students who do not complete the Controlled Assessment on time will not be allocated a mark for this portion and their overall grade will suffer.

What Arrangements Are Made For Study Leave?

Study leave begins for year 11 students in May on dates notified by the centre. After those dates students are only required to be in centre when they actually have examinations. Normal timetable classes will run for revision and students are encouraged to attend.

What Information Will Students Receive About Their Examination Entries?

When the entries have been entered on the centres computer system, students will receive a student entry summary detailing the subjects and tiers for which they have been entered. This should be checked and you are asked to inform the centre if you believe there are any errors or problems either with the exam entry or the personal details.

This document serves two purposes:

  • to check that all entries have been made and are correct;
  • to inform parents that they undertake to pay the entry fees should their son/daughter fail to take the examination without good reason.

Once the examination boards have received entries, Candidate Timetables will be issued showing the subjects entered with that board, and giving the dates of the examination and the room and seat number allocated. These should be checked and kept safely by the candidate, as they are evidence that an entry has been made Sometimes candidates will receive updated statements if the entries made for them change.

Where Will The Examinations Be Held?

The main locations for written papers are the Gym at the Upper School (Hall 1) and the Upper School Library for candidates who are entitled to a reader. Candidates are asked to be there 10 minutes before the advertised start time to enable seating procedures to be carried out efficiently, and to allow for any unforeseen room changes. They are asked to wait quietly outside the room until invited to enter. Where a candidate sits will be determined by their candidate number, which appears on all statements of entry. A seating plan will be posted outside the room for students to check and remember their row and seat number.

How Do I Know The Dates When Exams Take Place?

The main period for exams is from the middle of May – until the end of June/early July but some oral examinations and practical examinations will take place earlier. All candidates will receive individual entry statements, which will give them the dates and sessions (a.m. or p.m.) of the papers they are taking. They will also receive a centre produced timetable of all GCE/GCSE examinations. It is helpful if parents make sure a copy of this timetable is available to them at home with their son's/daughter's exams highlighted.

At What Times Do The Exam Sessions Begin?

The exam boards dictate the permissible start times for exams. Candidates are asked to report no later than 9:00 for morning examinations and 1:15 for afternoon examinations. The length of examination papers varies and occasionally may not finish until after school leaving time. Students and parents should be aware of this and make appropriate arrangements for getting home. Students will not be allowed out of an exam early for any reason.

Some students may also receive an allowance of extra time for the examinations and so their finishing times will be even later. Timings for some papers may deviate from this pattern and the candidates will be made aware of this. It is the candidates' responsibility to be aware of the start time of each exam, but parents should be warned there is a tendency for students to confuse AM and PM. sessions. Please ensure your son/daughter checks his/her exam commitments for each day on the previous evening.

What Happens If A Student Has More Than 1 Exam At The Same Time?

If a candidate is timetabled to sit two or more exams at the same time this is know as a clash. If these are for the same subject this is intentional on the part of the board and the exams are meant to run one after another. If not, then this should be picked up during the checking process and notified immediately to the exams officer who can grant permission for one of the papers to be taken at a different time on the same day. The candidate will have to remain under supervision between the two papers. In rare cases it may be necessary for a paper to be taken the next day and it is a requirement that the candidate is supervised overnight. This is essential to avoid compromising the integrity of the examination and needs to be organised well in advance.

If an exam is delayed from a morning to an afternoon session the candidate will be supervised over lunchtime. They should bring some revision or reading material and their lunch and a drink, as they will not be allowed to buy food. Even attempting to communicate with any other candidate will invariably result in the loss of all those exams for all of the candidates involved.

How Are Students Supervised?

Adult external invigilators will supervise students under the direct management of the exams officer. Once candidates enter the exam room they must remain supervised and follow the invigilators instructions at all times. The invigilators are experienced in exams procedures and subject to strict regulation, references and police checks. They usually work in teams and can contact the exams officer by radio/telephone to resolve any issues.

The Invigilators call candidates in by row and seat number or subject group and students should find the desk with their seat number on it.

In some sessions, papers will be already on exam desks, these must not be opened until candidates are advised to do so.

What Happens If A Student Cannot Find His/Her Place In The Exam Room?

Occasionally problems arise because a student is not on the seating plan. There are a number of possible reasons for this and the situation has to be investigated. Your son/daughter will be asked to wait at the front for a few moments whilst the invigilator on duty in that venue checks the entry and sorts the problem out with the exams officer. Every effort is made to keep these problems to a minimum and they will not prejudice any student's chance of taking an examination for which he/she has been entered. Students who have been officially withdrawn from an examination will not be permitted to sit the papers.

Regulations Governing The Use Of Calculators

Some subject papers, especially Maths, explicitly prohibit the use of calculators. Candidates must not have or attempt to use any form of calculator for these.

Also calculators with any of the following facilities are prohibited:

  • Data banks
  • Dictionaries
  • Language translators
  • Retrieval of text or formulae
  • QWERTY keyboards
  • Built-in symbolic algebra manipulations
  • Symbolic differentiation or integration
  • Capability of remote communication with other machines

The use, or attempted use, of any such calculators will be regarded as malpractice.

Calculators with graphic displays and programmable calculators are permitted if information and/or programs stored in the calculator's memory are cleared before the examination. Retrieval of information and/or programs during the examination is an infringement of the regulations. Candidates are responsible for clearing any information and/or program before the examination.

What Are The Regulations Regarding Mobile Phones And Smart Watches?

The regulations state that mobile phones and smart watches are not to be brought into examination rooms under any circumstances even if switched off. This applies to all public and centre/mock examinations. They cause disturbance to other candidates if they ring and can present opportunities for malpractice. Any student found to have a phone or smart watch in the exam room will have the item removed and the incident will be reported to the appropriate examination board. Should this happen they are likely to be disqualified from either that paper, from the whole examination in that subject, or possibly from all examinations with that exam board.

It is a very serious offence and our advice is that the phone should not be brought to the centre. We can take no responsibility for the security of mobile phones brought to the centre.

What Is Meant By Malpractice?

Malpractice is the term that the exam boards use for any irregularity, or breach of the regulations of any form. The exams officer is required to, and will, report all infringements to the appropriate body and they will decide on what action to take based on the nature of the infringement. There is a tariff system of actions from which they can decide within limits and some infringements carry automatic loss of marks as a minimum penalty. The exam boards take the integrity of exams very seriously and it is important that candidates heed the exam officers instructions carefully.

What Happens If A Student Does Not Turn Up For An Examination?

A student who absents themselves from any examination without presenting a doctor's note or a satisfactory reason for a request for special consideration will receive a grade based only on those elements of the examinations which have been marked.

Parents should be aware that the centre will seek to recover the exam fees if a child does not turn up for an examination and parents be asked for a payment of between £15.00 and £70.00 per subject depending on the examining board in the event of non-attendance. It is in all our interests to ensure that the centres' examination budget is not wasted.

How Are Exams Started?

The exams officer will usually announce the exam formally, and candidates cautioned that they are subject to the regulations. Any instructions or board notices, changes to papers etc will be read out and the candidates asked to complete their details on the answer papers.

What Standards Of Behaviour Are Expected During Examinations?

All candidates are given a copy of a 'notice to candidates' produced by the examining bodies, which gives general guidelines for conduct, which must be observed.

The centre and the examination boards regard breaches of examination regulations very seriously. Parents should please impress on your son/daughter the importance of good behaviour in an examination, as any activities that may disturb or upset other candidates will not be tolerated.

The head of centre and exams officer have the power to remove disruptive candidates.

Candidates are asked to wait quietly outside the exam venue, and to enter and leave in silence. This avoids disturbance to other candidates and does help to maintain a calm atmosphere for those students who are nervous about their exams.

Candidates who try to communicate with other candidates inside the venue, or who create a disturbance in the examination room will be asked to leave, and the circumstances will be reported to the examination board. This may result in the candidate not receiving a grade for the whole of that examination.

What Should Students Wear For Examinations?

For GCSE exams students are required to be in full school uniform. Sixth Form students must be dressed appropriately. We ask for the co-operation of parents in ensuring candidates are correctly dressed as we wish to avoid causing stress to candidates in the examination room by pointing out when they are not in correct uniform. All students know the uniform rules and it is their responsibility to ensure they observe them. Students not dressed properly or modestly will not be permitted to sit exams.

Jackets, jumpers or other clothing are not allowed over the backs of the chairs.

For Year 11 students all personal belongings are to be left in the secure storage room. (Normally the Year 11 Common Room). Sixth Form students can leave there personal belongings either in the sixth form block or they can be left at the front of the exam hall (ensuring any mobile devices are switched off).

Excessive amounts of jewellery, such as multiple rings or bracelets should not be worn as they make a noise on the desk and would be deemed a disruption to other candidates. No body piercings are allowed as per the school rules, and any that are seen will be required to be removed.

What Do I Do If My Son/Daughter Is Unwell At The Time Of One Of The Examinations?

Even if you would not normally visit your doctor's surgery for minor illnesses it is important that you do so at examination time. Your doctor will advise as to whether your son/daughter is fit to sit the examination. If the candidate takes the paper, your doctor should give you a letter, which the centre can forward to the examination board asking for special consideration on the grounds of illness. If the candidate is unable through illness to sit a paper the board may, after examining the doctor's letter and any evidence of performance on other papers, decide to award a grade.It is essential that you see your doctor on the day of the examination or previously. Retrospective information is not accepted by the examination boards and any doctors' letters must be forwarded to the exams officer without delay, as there is a tight deadline.

Please telephone the centre if your son/daughter will not be attending an examination or if he/she will be present but is unwell. It is often helpful for the invigilator to be aware that a candidate is not feeling well.

Please be aware that any medical certificate must be accompanied by a note detailing the examinations to which it refers and the date on which the papers were sat. We cannot guarantee otherwise that all relevant examinations will be covered.

There is a standard JCQ form (JCQ/ME Form14) available from the exams officer available for self-certification for a missed exam/s, which can be countersigned by your doctor/nurse or surgery receptionist.

What Do Students Do Who Finish Early?

Students should use all of the available time on their exams and spend any time at the end checking their answers. In any event they are not permitted to leave before the duration of the exam. They must sit quietly at their desk so as not to disturb other candidates.

What Do I Need To Do If A Student Has Problems That May Affect His/Her Examination Performance?

Some candidates are eligible for extra time or special examination arrangements. These are normally identified by the centre and appropriate applications made supported by an educational psychologist's report, the exams officer and head of centre are empowered to grant extra time, the provision of a prompter or similar arrangements, but only given the correct evidence and at their sole discretion. The SEN department will make arrangements for providing any other special assistance and inform the candidates of any special rooming arrangements.

Any illness, or family circumstances, which may affect examination performance, arising shortly before or during the exams, should be notified as soon as possible to the exams officer so that an application for special consideration can be made to the boards. Parents should be aware that any adjustment is likely to be small and that no feedback is ever provided.

What Happens About The Return Of Centre Books And Equipment At The End Of The Examination Period?

Students will have been informed by subject departments, of the arrangements for return of books, etc. Please ensure that all textbooks and equipment are returned promptly to centre.

When And How Are The Results Distributed?

GCE results will be available on Thursday 13th August 2015. GCSE results will be available on Thursday 20th August 2015. Results will normally be available for collection from 10:00 am. Students wishing for a relative or friend to collect their results must send a signed letter of authorisation with the collector. Results will not be given over the telephone under any circumstances.

Students not intending to collect in person but wishing their results to be posted or emailed, should leave a stamped addressed envelope (also bearing their candidate number) or a letter detailing the email address and authorisation, at the centre reception FAO the exams officer. Result slips not collected or posted on results day will be retained in centre for collection at the start of term, again with the necessary authority.

What Can I Do If Results Are Substantially Different From What Is Anticipated?

It must be remembered that examinations can only measure performance on the day, and that candidates can do better or worse than anticipated for a variety of reasons. If there are serious grounds for concern about a result then the centre can initiate an enquiry with the appropriate board. Details of the procedures and the fees involved are available from the exams officer and the process should be started as soon as possible after consultation with the head of department concerned. The final date for exam queries to the board is four weeks after results.

If the results have serious implications for the student's future plans then advice should be sought from either the head of sixth form or the deputy head.

Fees may vary depending on the subject and must be paid by the deadlines set. Refunds are not normally given.

When Do Students Receive Certificates?

The examining boards issue certificates well after the examinations have taken place.

The school will be holding presentation evenings for Sixth Form and Year 11 students, where they will be presented with their certificates. If students are not able to attend the evening the certificates will be made available for collection from the following Monday. A friend or family member may collect them but only bearing a letter of request signed by the candidate and some form of ID.

Certificates uncollected after 1 year may be destroyed; they can only be replaced by direct application to the boards by the candidate, and will require proof of identity such as an original birth certificate and a substantial fee per certificate.

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