The art of being an examiner

I am a GCSE examiner. I stumbled upon it once and discovered I enjoy doing it and, even more of a shock, I’m actually good at it. I mark a Language paper which means I did have to know ‘Of Mice and Men’ better than my own date of birth…but now we have the advent of British values, I think that may change. The other task is a written response to stimulus.

One of the things I love is being able to provide an audience for the teenagers who are sitting there. In the classroom the examiner seems to be a foreign, if not alien, entity. Although I mark for a different board to the one I teach; I find it useful to explain to the students a little bit of what I do. We have a caricature: ‘that retired teacher, sitting by candlelight at 11pm, marking your work’…then I go on to explain clarity of response or punchiness of quotes used appropriately. They laugh at my stereotype, but it cements the concept that their exam writing will have an audience, it’s not just written and thrown in the the bin. In fact someone more experienced than me will probably see it.

My principal examiner stated that we should approach our first response with the same energy as we approach our last. Every student demands the same scrutiny and support to do as well as their response deserves. It is a philosophy I love; ultimately, after all these years of teaching the students, it is heartwarming to see what they achieve when all other distractions are out of the way. For me, I have no idea if the candidate I have just marked is a ‘Jack the lad’ or a ‘Wall flower’, if they have produced a brilliant answer then they get rewarded, in some cases I have been on the receiving end of such surprising marks, and when we have checked, we have been pleasantly relieved.

It is tough with Government targets being used as a whip, but I console myself with the basic fact that so many young people work their hardest during the exams. They know what they want and I would like to think, that in my small role as an examiner, I can assist them in that desire.

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Mrs Morgan – how sad that we have come to this.

Political football anyone? Very sad indeed.

stephen perse foundation

When Michael Gove had the baton of the education portfolio wrenched from his reluctant hands last year, I had some optimism that his successor, Mrs Nicky Morgan, would be more than Gove-lite. The new Secretary of State for Education has certainly made emollient noises about teachers and has even invited the teaching profession to share their concerns about workload. So I was somewhat dismayed when our Secretary of State whipped off her benign mask and showed her true colours. In an interview with the Sunday Times Nicky Morgan proclaimed: “We will expect every pupil by the age of 11 to know their times tables off by heart, to perform long division and complex multiplication and to be able to read a novel.” And how will she ensure this is achieved?

“The new tests for 11-year-olds we are introducing next year will be strengthened to ensure that every young person is…

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