This Notice is based on guidance provided within the JCQ Joint Contingency Plan, which is available from the  JCQ website:

In the event of widespread disruption to the examination system, all centres must have contingency plans  in place. There are three main categories of disruption, which are outlined below.

Candidates at risk of being unable to take examinations – centres remain open

Centres’ contingency plans should focus on options that enable candidates to take their examinations. As  part of these preparations, centres should take into account the guidance provided in the JCQ publication  Instructions for conducting examinations:—instructions-for conducting-examinations

  • consider moving the starting times of the examination for all candidates (see section 6.2 of the  JCQ publication Instructions for conducting examinations)
  • being aware of the rules for very late arrivals (see section 21 of the JCQ publication Instructions for conducting examinations).

Wherever possible, it is always in the best interest for candidates to sit the examination. However, if  candidates who are unable to sit the examination meet the criteria, special consideration through absence  for acceptable reasons is an option (see Chapter 4 of the JCQ publication A guide to the special  consideration process: consideration/regulations-and-guidance

Please do not hesitate to call the relevant awarding body if you require additional support or guidance in the  event of disruption to examinations.

Centres at risk of being unable to open as normal during the examination period

As above, centres’ contingency plans must focus on enabling candidates to take their examinations if the centre is at risk of being unable to open as normal.

The responsibility for deciding whether it is safe for a centre to open lies with the head of centre who is  responsible for taking advice or following instructions from relevant local or national agencies.

Information on what centres should do if examinations or other assessments are seriously disrupted can be  found in the three country regulators’ exam system contingency plan: ireland/what-schools-and-colleges-should-do-if-exams-or-other-assessments-are-seriously-disrupted

Special consideration through absence for acceptable reasons is also available as an option if all other  avenues have been exhausted and candidates meet the relevant criteria.

Please do not hesitate to call the relevant awarding body if you require additional support or guidance in the  event of disruption to your examinations.

Disruption to transporting completed examination scripts

If there is a delay in normal collection arrangements for completed examination scripts:

  • where examinations are part of the national ‘yellow label’ service or where awarding bodies arrange  collections, centres should contact the relevant awarding bodies for advice and instructions.
  • for examinations where centres make their own collection arrangements, they should investigate alternative options that comply with the JCQ publication Instructions for conducting examinations
  • completed scripts must be stored securely until they are collected.

Summary of centre and awarding body responsibilities

Examination centres are responsible for:

  • preparing plans for any disruption to examinations as part of centres’ general emergency planning • deciding whether the centre can open for examinations as scheduled and informing relevant  awarding bodies if the centre is unable to open
  • exploring the opportunities for alternative arrangements if the centre cannot open for examinations  and agreeing such arrangements with the awarding bodies
  •  judging whether candidates meet the requirements for special consideration because of any  disruption and submitting these requests to the relevant awarding bodies
  • assessing their circumstances and liaising with awarding bodies in the event of disruption to the  transportation of papers.

Awarding bodies are responsible for:

  • ensuring centres receive examination materials for scheduled examinations
  • advising centres on possible alternative examination arrangements and declining/approving  proposals for alternative examination arrangements
  • evaluating and declining/approving requests for special consideration.

Contacting the awarding bodies

In all cases, if there are any concerns, please contact the relevant awarding body for advice:



0800 197 7162 



028 9026 1212, 028 9026 1293, 028 9026 1425



01223 553998 



0344 463 2535



02920 265 077