As GCSE and A Level examinations are underway at schools across the country, many institutions are facing a shortage of invigilators.
A recent survey held by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) revealed that a third of the 500 schools to respond had been unable to recruit enough invigilators this year.
General secretary of the ASCL, Geoff Barton, said this will cause a lot of logistical problems in the schools and colleges affected. Barton suggested this shortage could be due to the fact that many invigilators are retired teachers, and therefore could be concerned about catching Covid, ‘particularly as the Government has withdrawn free Covid testing.’
‘We have repeatedly called upon the Government to make free Covid tests available to students sitting exams which may have helped to allay these concerns, but the Government has refused to do so. We do not think this is consistent with its rhetoric about the importance of exams,’ he said.
The National Association of Exams Officers said that the situation has worsened this year as many members have not experienced an exam season before due to the pandemic. They also explained that many schools were unconvinced that exams would even go ahead this year which resulted in them being late to recruit invigilators.
Despite this, the Department for Education has said it does not expect general disruption. A spokesperson said: ‘Schools and exam centres are well prepared to handle any challenges, having been asked to have robust contingency plans in place.’
One student took to Twitter to raise their concerns with exam board AQA over the invigilator shortage. They said: ‘I’m sitting my A-levels next week. There’s an invigilator shortage, so some schools are drafting in parents and subject teachers – but our school has enough people to run exams normally. Will there be more cheating? Will the grade boundaries go up? Will we be disadvantaged?’
AQA responded, advising the student to raise their concerns with their school or college directly.
According to the BBC, the usual rules dictate that one invigilator must be present in written exams for every 30 students. However, this has been changed to a 1:40 ratio due to the shortages. Teachers will also be able to invigilate exams in their own subjects, which is also not usually permitted.