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NCTJ unveils plan to hold exams remotely from next month

Joanne ButcherTrainee reporters and journalism students could take examinations remotely from next month, the National Council for the Training of Journalists has revealed.

The NCTJ says it is currently exploring the idea, which would make use of “cutting-edge secure proctoring technology and alternative online platforms”, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the organisation, the remote invigilation technology would enable students and trainees to sit their exams from home while preserving the integrity of the NCTJ’s qualifications.

The proposed system will be tested over the next fortnight, with a view to it first being used on 11 May.

Chief executive Joanne Butcher, pictured, said: “As we are delivering industry-standard competency-based qualifications, it isn’t appropriate for the NCTJ to follow the government’s decision to abandon exams for general qualifications this summer in favour of estimating and predicting results.

“Instead, we are determined to innovate and adapt the delivery of our exams so that there is no risk to the integrity and validity of our professional qualifications for journalists.

“Most important to us are our learners who are all training and studying remotely online. We have more than 1,000 trainee journalists, apprentices, and journalism students on accredited and distance learning courses who couldn’t sit exams which had to be postponed in April or are due to sit over the coming months.

“We recognise the uncertainty and anxiety they may be feeling. If they can sit their NCTJ exams securely online at home this would support their remote training and give them the opportunity to achieve their NCTJ qualifications without further delay.”

Most NCTJ exams are already run online with 16 exams using the Cirrus platform for two qualifications, the entry-level Diploma in Journalism and the National Qualification in Journalism which recognises senior status.

NCTJ head of quality and assessment Rachel Manby, who is leading the project, said: “I’m really excited to be working creatively with our accredited course providers and examiners to offer our exams securely and remotely.

“If the two-week testing phase is successful, we aim to run our first remote exam – in broadcast regulation – on 11 May.

“Sitting exams remotely will also have a long-term benefit for the National Qualification in Journalism and for our national exam sittings, allowing distance learners to sit NCTJ exams securely at home, in office, in the UK and internationally, without the need to rely on external invigilators.”

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