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Chicken walk keeps invigilators awake

Ever wondered how invigilators amuse themselves when pupils are sitting exams? Well, wonder no more.

They have admitted to playing games such as "chicken", "good kid, bad kid" and even a version of "battleships" in a desperate attempt to make the time go faster.

Teachers are risking the wrath of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority by revealing all in a discussion on The TES's website.

Suggestions for what's going on vary from the staggeringly mundane - counting the bricks on the exam hall wall - to ideas that might not look out of place on an episode of Channel 4's Teachers. They include:

* Holding competitions to see who can hand out the most extra paper. "You have to judge where you think hands are going to spring up. You start having veritable sprints between you to get to bewildered kids, or cleverly handing out reams of paper to a kid who only wanted advice," said one teacher.

* Playing "battleships": making crosses on a piece of paper according to which pupils have "bad hair".

* Invigilators playing games of "tag" between themselves ("Just like the real game, but obviously no running!").

* "Chicken": the invigilator deliberately walks between the desks towards an advancing colleague. The loser is the first to take avoiding action.

* "Good kidbad kid": using the exam attendance grid, a teacher picks a pupil in one of their classes whom the other teacher does not know. The second teacher has to guess which category the youngster falls into, just by looking at them. Accurate 80 per cent of the time, apparently.

* "Ugly": a cruel game whereby invigilators have to stand next to the pupil they think is the ugliest in the room.

For some, though, invigilating may present special challenges. Summing up their response to the discussion, one teacher said: "All these ideas sound brilliant. Much better than throwing up into a bucket I luckily found just outside the classroom, and then staggering back into the hall to announce '10 more minutes'."

The QCA was not amused. A spokesman said: "Teachers are supposed to be focusing on the behaviour of pupils and what's going on in the exam room."

* Pay rates for most examiners will rise by at least 5 per cent this year after the National Assessment Agency gave an extra pound;15million to help examining bodies tackle marker shortages, the NAA said this week.

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