Every year, thousands of teachers participate in invigilating and marking exams – how will they cope with the additional pressure and demands on their time?
As reported earlier this year by The Guardian, many teachers are working more than 60 hours a week, while 75% have reported symptoms of stress – including depression, anxiety and panic attacks.
Against this backdrop are changes in GCSEs and A-Levels that have created unprecedented demand for more teaching staff to become exam markers.
41,000 teachers will need to serve as examiners by 2019 – which means an additional 7,000 teachers – to meet an increased demand during the summer period, when more exams will be taken in the wake of reforms.
Alongside the pressure for teachers to step into the breach, are financial incentives for invigilating and marking exams.
Though publicly available information about exam pay is difficult to come by, one examiner shared details in the Guardian back in 2014 – reporting pay of £3.05 per exam, with a standard 300 papers to mark.
That’s £915 before tax, to complement the average teacher’s salary of £37,400 (a salary that is squeezed by inflation year on year).
With so many compelling reasons to invigilate and mark exams, teachers need the right approach if they’re to balance these added responsibilities with their already burgeoning workloads.
Exam boards can always do more to improve and to pre-emptively address the challenges presented by qualification reform.
Try not to cut back on your social contact
Both invigilating exams and marking papers take their toll, and it can be tempting to shut yourself away to simply sleep in-between marking papers.
Yet now more than ever, you’re going to need some time away from the professional pressures you face.
Sure, the late nights might need to be replaced with evenings in, and that weekly meet up might need to be downgraded to a phone call for a week or two, but maintaining regular social contact, in any form, is essential.
Create a rota that works for you
The majority of exam boards will send you a visual timeline of marking papers in small chunks of time (this will include training; standardisation; marking period; deadline, etc.).
This plan can help you create a rota of your own for your marking sessions, for which you will need to start with blocking out your commitments on a calendar, and then totting up the days you’re free for marking.
From here, calculate how many scripts you could realistically mark per day. With a realistic rota in place, you’ll quickly become aware if you begin to fall behind.
Submit your marked papers regularly
Most exam boards will require you to download a specific number of exam papers in one session.
You can either download the amount you can mark in one day and upload them in bulk; or you can upload them as you mark them (the latter choice can help you feel as though you’re making good, consistent progress).
Stay in touch with your team leader
Team leaders can and should be your support throughout your exam marking.
While any email or phone call from them can lead to worrying as to whether the levels you’ve given are in fact correct, their advice is always constructive, and can help you cope better with the piles of papers you’re yet to face.
Take regular breaks to rest and recuperate
Marking is tough, and it won’t be long before both body and mind begins to tire. Taking a 10-minute break away from the desk every hour can work wonders for your productivity.
Remember when you were revising for exams? Treat the task of marking in a similar way – avoid distractions, clear away any clutter, timetable breaks as well as work, and make sure that you eat well and sleep until you are fully rested.