We have a right to be paid for oral exams
To Be Honest: A teacher writes:It is a long time since I read such a cocktail of begrudgery and hypocrisy as we were treated to by the teacher who wrote a recent “To Be Honest” column.
The writer, professing to be a science teacher, complained about the extra money paid to language teachers for conducting oral exams at other schools. The significance of the teacher’s own subject soon became obvious, courtesy of the highlighted quote: “I feel discriminated against because I can’t avail of a double salary.”
That comment illustrated the essential hypocrisy in that teacher’s comment. Behind all the populist “let’s save the taxpayers’ money” rhetoric was this acknowledgment that the same teacher would happily avail of the opportunity to “double job”, as they put it, were that opportunity available.
The money for the oral examinations is not spectacular. The real benefit, and the reason I do it, is the experience it gives in relation to teaching students in the classroom and to advising colleagues.
It is also a great opportunity to immerse oneself in the subject and to appreciate the element of assessment meaningfully.
Were it unpaid, many would be far less likely to do it, as there is a significant amount of preparatory work to be done for missed classes during that week, not to mention the build-up of corrections waiting at the end of that week.
There is also very little credit given to the significant responsibility involved in assessing Leaving Cert students. Teachers correcting state exams get paid for doing so, even for chemistry: what is the difference?
If anything, there is a far greater challenge for an oral examiner, who is operating much more independently.
That teacher recommends the Easter holiday for oral exams. Perhaps in that teacher’s case Easter holidays amount to usable free time.
In my case, however – and in the case of at least one other language teacher in my school every year – I will be spending a half-day each day for the first week of my holiday teaching a language class with a Leaving Cert group.
It is a brilliant deal for the students who will show up, the equivalent of almost eight weeks’ tuition. Happily, the taxpayer will not have to cough up for this particular “barmy arrangement”.
Unpaid Easter holiday tuition: now there’s a bit of double-jobbing that I’m sure is available to the chemistry teacher should he or she choose to avail of the opportunity.