Thank God it's Friday

16th June 2006 at 01:00
Monday It's exam week and most of my free periods are taken up with invigilating. Slogging up and down the rows in the exam hall, pretending to look alert, I wonder whether there is a book called "Invigilation for Dummies" for recently qualified staff. This is one aspect of a teacher's duties that no one warned me about, which is why I'm wearing high-heeled shoes and a skirt that rustles. My calves are aching from trying to walk on tiptoe. It beats an hour in the gym.

Tuesday Something else no one told me was that there are peak and trough times for invigilating. First thing in the morning when you're fresh and haven't already been standing for hours is a peak time. Just after a plate of stodge from the school dining hall is a definite trough. I'm stifling yawns like a local reporter at a church fete.

Wednesday Another teacher invigilating with me today has taken her high heels off and is striding up and down in socks. She's going at quite a pace and sliding around a bit on the turns. I try to suppress the vain hope that she will liven up the afternoon by ending up on her bottom at the front of the hall. It wouldn't really be fair on the students taking their geography exam, but it would relieve this crashing boredom.

Thursday There are things you pray for as you walk towards the exam hall for a session of invigilation. One is that the papers will already have been given out and you won't have to do that. Another is that all necessary announcements will have already been made so you won't have to do that either. The most fervent prayer, though, is "Lord, let the exam finish within five minutes of my arrival so that I get my free period". Today, this prayer is not answered. I'm sure the hands on the clock are going backwards.

Friday At my last school, they played invigilation games where one teacher would whisper to another "Go and stand by the ugliest kid in the room" or staff would race each other to see who could get round the hall in the quickest time. That was back in my NQT days when I thought such people were unprofessional, uncaring and immature. Now, in my fifth session of invigilation this week, and desperate for someone to ask for a ruler, a calculator, anything, things don't seem so clear-cut.

Pauline Rose works in a secondary school in Richmond upon Thames. She writes under a pseudonym. If you have a diary to share (no more than 450 words), write to TES Friday or email We pay for every article we publish

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