Of queasy pupils and bum-pinchers

14th May 2004 at 01:00
It's that time of year again. You have done everything you can to psych yourself up, telling yourself it will be all right. But as you enter the exam hall, the knot in the stomach is real.

A-levels and GCSEs start on Monday and if a succession of stories from school exams officers are anything to go by, it is invigilators, not students, who should be getting nervous.

Take this tale from an officer working at a large sixth-form college in the south of England overseeing A-level exams.

The weather was stifling, so invigilators flung open the hall windows and closed the thick black curtains to shut out the light. The examiner takes up the story: "Shortly after starting the exam, I realised that these curtains were billowing over students in the first row, so I went behind the curtains to close the window. When I tried to get out, I couldn't. I pulled at the curtain which swished noisily on its brass fittings, but still couldn't find the join to let me out.

"I pulled even more, but realised I was actually pulling the curtains in on myself.

"By now I was hot, panicky and frantically pulled until I eventually peeked out at the other end of the curtain, only to find 230 students (including my son) looking at me in astonishment.

"I was dishevelled, bright red in the face and trembling, and I'd made so much noise that everyone knew what was going on. It took a long time before I lived it down."

Another officer recalls panicking a student was sick over her English script.

The invigilator said: "As she had already covered a 12-page booklet, I had to wash, dry out and then photocopy the whole thing; I don't feel that the examiner would have thanked me for sending the original in the post." This tale does have a happy ending as the student ended up with an A grade.

These stories are featured on the website of the Examinations Officers'

Association, which also has this offering: "Three years ago, I was invigilating an exam when a student put her hand up. As I leant over her desk listening to the student, someone pinched my bum. I looked around, slightly shocked, to see one of my maths pupils with a wide grin on his face.

"I wouldn't have minded so much but I'm a (heterosexual) bloke myself. I still get reminded of this when exams are on by what I think are slightly jealous colleagues..."


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