Examine this ridiculous waste of time

9th June 1995 at 01:00
I write this after emerging from the school's sports hall on completion of my stint as invigilator for a GCSE English examination. Following me out are seven other colleagues.

As we leave we are replaced by a further eight. Yes, it's the time of the exams and what a re-emergence it has been. Our young people face more exams this year than their predecessors have, certainly since I began teaching some 15 years ago, and what a waste of resources.

I imagine it to be the same in many schools as it has been in my own. Vice principalsdeputy heads liaising with examination officers for hours on end sorting out invigilators, administration and room changes.

In a school such as mine which does not enjoy the luxury of a "school hall" exams mean closing the only drama studio for three days, the sports hall for 10 days, the sixth-form area for single or half days and the humanities area when need arises. The displacement and disruption to the normal running of the school is consequently vast.

For some examinations, because of the differing needs of students, we have been required to provide up to 16 invigilators. Where we have been short we've redeployed ancillaries and on two desperate days brought my wife in to invigilate. At such times we have in all our school's staff collectively costing hundreds of pounds an hour standing around vaguely looking into space unable to do anything.

What they should be doing is preparing lessons, doing in-service training, both inside and outside the school, meeting to review the year and prepare the forthcoming one. Using the time to think and recharge their creativity. Such activity would really help to improve quality in education and be of direct benefit to successive generations of students.

I'm told, and I've never seen any statement to contradict it, that a student's exam script has between three to five minutes devoted to it by the examiner.

A far less rigorous assessment, I would suggest, than the much maligned and undermined assessment of school-based 100 per cent coursework exams. Where is the quality here, where is the appropriate use of teaching resources?

Are any of us, in particular our young people, benefiting at all from the rise and rise of final examinations?


Groby Community College Groby, Leics

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