Thursday, 15 November 2007


Thought I'd better add a bit of documentary evidence here. It's a shame I don't still have the very official invigilator's badge, which was really the best part of the job. I used to go to pick the kids up with it on and people used to look at me like I had been chairing very important meetings.
I have been doing this job for quite a long time, during the exam season. It involves making sure the kids don't cheat during exams. As my husband said tonight, it allows me to exercise all my major life skills, that is, standing still and not talking to anybody (that's how they talk round here). Sometimes you do have to do a bit of talking, but that is thankfully, rare, and sometimes you have to hand out paper. As the retired gentleman said to me the other day when there was a bit of a spurt on with the paper handing out at his end of the sports hall 'This is getting too exciting. I can't handle this'. Sometimes the kids are really thick and they put their hands up and ask you the answer to the exam questions!
Once it happened to somebody I know during a Spanish exam. She asked the lady the answer to a question and the lady said 'Sorry, I don't speak Spanish' and this girl said 'Well, that's no good, is it'!
You've got to make sure the kids don't cheat by watching them, and stopping them smirking at each other and other inappropriate behaviour. You can tell the rebellious ones by their gait as soon as they enter the room and you keep a close eye on them. Sometimes the kids are quite funny. Once the Senior Invigilator was watching a boy getting a small piece of paper out of his shirt pocket on a number of occasions and studying it closely. Remembering all his invigilator training he went to the boy and demanded to see the paper, which was totally blank! Quite good the Senior Invigilator, Brian Spratt. An ex-PE teacher with a big handlebar moustache. Good asides. 'Would make a good barmaid' was one today.
Definitely a little bit of dumbing down is going on here as sometimes I look at some of the exam papers, and think they are a lot easier than the ones I took. Today I saw a paper asking for the three stages of giving birth, I ask you! I think it was Home Economics. Sometimes I seriously think I could sit some of these papers without any prior knowledge and get a good grade.
You've got to watch out for the new technology such as i-pods, and apparently now there are tiny ear pieces you can put in your ear that are powered by radio waves, so that some genius outside can give you the answers, though why you would need something like this with 'Basic Food Technology' is a moot point.


Debi said...

I'm imagining you with a big silver star badge pinned to your chest... funny!

I laughed out loud when I read about the flurry of paper-handing-out causing Invigilator anxiety and about the girl who thought the Invigilator should speak Spanish, in spite of the fact that SHE was the one who had the course.

And what was the deal with the blank piece of paper? Did the kid write it in invisible ink and have x-ray vision or something?

ciara said...

thanks for visiting my life w hashi blog. not many visit that one lol but wow..invigilating. i don't think we have that here. not at least while i was in school lol

dianeclancy said...

Hi Beverly,

Thanks for this window into your life!! Very entertaining.

You must be smart ... I figured today I would fail their tests even though I used to do well.

~ Diane Clancy

Sandollar said...

invigilator? I learned something new today...from your blog and Merriam-Webster!

Bobbie said...

At first I thought you might be invigorated, but now I see not. he he. Was the blank paper just to get the invigilator's goat? Or maybe he was just wishing the answer would suddenly appear. Your stories are just too funny Beverly. I love reading stuff like this.

Bev said...

Diane, it's not that I am particularly clever, it's that some of these exams papers are very easy. Take 'Food Technology', where some of the questions deal with washing vegetables. I would argue that it would take only a modicum of common sense to sit papers like these!

There have been some arguments in the British press as to whether the exam system is dumbing down. On the evidence of some of the papers I have read, I would say it is. Even the more academic subjects such as English have less stringent papers than the ones,say, twenty years ago.

Gina said...

Sooo...the kids don't get their exams in class?

What a riot teenagers are! I'm giving a class on the Constitution for 3 teenage boys, and they keep me in stitches!

Bev said...

Sandollar, I am very curious what Merriam-Webster had to say, but I can't find her lol Nevermind, I will keep looking...

Bez said...

Despite the governments assurances to the contrary, I can assure you that GCSE papers are much easier than O level. A levels are still pretty good (mostly), but their days are numbered and there are smaller but significant changes next year that are worrying. One A level Biology unit is going to be called "Drugs can alter your perception of the environment2. No S+£t Sherlock!

And for the record, ignore her modesty, Bev is extremely intelligent, which is evident from her entertaining prose. :-)

Bez said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.