Functional Skills | Pearson qualifications
Quality assurance Test inspection

Functional Skills

Centres conducting Functional Skills tests are to ensure that they are conducted following JCQ ICE and Pearson requirements.

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This includes:

  • Receipt and checking of materials
  • Secure storage of materials
  • Opening papers (and transport of papers to alternative sites)
  • Exam room layout
  • Sitting the exam (invigilator)
  • Monitoring and reporting malpractice
  • Returning materials to the UK.

Inspections will be conducted either via an on-site visit (unannounced) or via a remote, virtual inspection (announced).

Please see the tabs below for more information on these two methods.

The inspection will be broken down into 6 key stages:

  • How materials are received and logged by the centre
  • How materials are transported to the secure room and secured in a lockable storage unit
  • How materials are checked,what to look for and what action needs to be taken if concerns identified
  • Question about access to the secure room and how this is controlled
  • Review the secure room and lockable storage unit
  • Security of onscreen tests, control of password and admin rights.
  • Test Manager (person responsible for the test on the day) understanding of their role
  • How many invigilators are present during the test and their understanding of the role
  • How invigilators can summon assistance whilst maintaining invigilator ratios
  • Appropriate technical support for onscreen tests.
  • Check the room to ensure it is set up, ready and suitable for the test/exam (exam notices, seating arrangements, no reference material on walls, a working clock and test details are displayed)
  • A copy of the relevant handbook/support documents (paper or electronic)
  • A copy of a seating plan is available (showing any candidates with special arrangements or resits)
  • Any audio equipment available, tested and suitable for the room / number of candidates
  • Workstations for onscreen tests have been checked with spares available.
  • How candidates enter the test room, the checking of candidate ID and the registration process
  • The opening and distribution of test papers
  • The warning to candidates and instructions
  • Instructions to include what to do in the case of an emergency:
    • Instructions to be adapted to meet “exam conditions”
    • Candidates to remain under exam conditions (segregated, supervised and not to talk to anyone whilst outside).
  • Ensure prohibited items have been removed and not used during the test:
    • Bags and coats to be left at the front of the room or outside the room, if possible
    • No mobile phones or web-enabled devises
    • Watches to be removed and placed on the desk in front of them
    • Water bottles to have no labels (clear bottles only)
    • If pencil cases are required they are to be clear, see-through.
  • How the live test/exam is conducted
  • How the invigilators conduct their role
  • Looking for signs of candidate malpractice (cheating).
  • How candidates finish their test/exam and the collection of their papers
  • The final sealing of papers
  • How answer sheets and other materials are securely stored until the return to Pearson
  • The close-down of onscreen tests
  • How invigilators / exam managers notify Pearson of any late arrivals, disturbances or malpractice.

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A copy of the report form used can be found under the relevant section below.

Test inspectors will be randomly allocated to conduct inspections to ensure that Pearson conditions are being adhered too. This is to ensure that papers remain secure, exams are being conducted appropriately and that candidates are not being disadvantaged. 

Once inspected, the inspector will submit their findings to the Test Inspection team (the inspector will not confirm the outcome of the inspection on the day). The team will then send the report with any identified actions to the centre within 10 working days.

Types of inspection applicable to Functional Skills

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Inspections are conducted via a visit. Centres will not be informed in advance of an inspection.

A Pearson test inspector will turn up an hour before the test/exam is due to start and will ask to speak to a named senior member of staff (Head of Centre or Exams Officer).

The Pearson Test Inspector will have a letter of authority with a contact number that you can call should you require clarification that the inspector is genuine (the safety of your staff and candidates is paramount so please call the number on the letter should you have any concerns).

The inspector will need access to:

  • Secure storage room
  • Question key staff
  • Exam room (pre-exam)
  • Exam room (during the exam).

The inspector will conduct their report* and will submit to the Test Inspection team (this inspector will not confirm the outcome of the inspection on the day). The team will then send the report with any identified actions to the centre within 10 working days.

The inspection will last no longer than 3 hours and will only observe 1 test.

The inspector will not speak with any candidates.

* The report that the inspector will use can be found below. This is available for you to use. The report does contain links to appropriate support documents which will assist you in running the test/exam.

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Centres will be informed 10 working days in advance of a remote inspection.

The platform that will be used for the remote inspection will be confirmed by the Test Inspection team

The Test Inspection team will contact the centre in advance to confirm the start time and to identify the centre's user details (name, email address and phone number) so that account can be added.

On the day of inspection

Pearson Test Inspectors will start the meeting an hour before the test/exam is due to start. The nominated centre user will join the meeting using the details provided by the Test Inspection team.

Centre users are to ensure that they log in using the application and not the browser version of the platform to be used.

The inspector will need to:

  • View the secure storage area
  • Question key exam staff
  • View the exam room (pre-exam)
  • Observe the exam room (during the exam).

The inspection will last no longer than 4 hours and will observe only 1 test.

The inspections will not be recorded.

The Inspector will not speak with any candidates.

The inspector will complete and submit their report and will submit to the Test Inspection team (this inspector will not confirm the outcome of the inspection on the day). The team will then send the report, with any identified actions, to the centre within 10 working days.

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