Shortages of examiners across all subjects looms weeks before Leaving Cert

State exams body asks school principals to encourage teachers to correct exams

The State Examinations Commission is still seeking qualified teachers to work as examiners across all subjects just six weeks ahead of the start of the Leaving Cert exams.

The State Examinations Commission is still seeking qualified teachers to work as examiners across all subjects just six weeks ahead of the start of the Leaving Cert exams.

 

The State Examinations Commission is still seeking qualified teachers to work as examiners across all subjects just six weeks ahead of the start of the Leaving Cert exams.

It wrote to school principals on Monday seeking their assistance in calling on teachers - including recently qualified graduates and retired staff - to work as examiners.

In particular, it says applications from teachers who are competent to mark subjects through Irish are especially needed.

“It would be of great assistance to the examinations system if you could encourage the teachers in your school to apply for these positions by notifying them of our extended recruitment campaign,” the commission states.

While a deadline of mid-December 2017 was listed on application forms for examiners, the commission says an extended recruitment campaign is underway.

It says it will appoint examiners right up to the start of the marking conferences in June, as it did last year.

In a statement to The Irish Times, the commission declined to say how many examiners were still required, except to say that it was in the process of “finalising panels across all subjects”

When asked if enough examiners will be hired, the spokesman said the commission has always secured the co-operation of teachers, including newly qualified teachers and retired teachers, in filling any vacancies and meeting the needs arising from drop-outs.

“The State Examinations Commission has every confidence that this will be the same this year,” the spokesman said.

He added that candidates should not worry and the exams will take place as scheduled.

Teachers’ unions have predicted there will be shortages of examiners this year due to a combination of a lack of qualified teachers in key subjects, along with austerity-era cuts to pay rates for marking students’ work.

While general recruitment of teachers to work as superintendents has finished for 2018, it said it was still seeking applications from teachers willing to superintend at exam centres in the greater Dublin area. It said the closing date for these applications was 30th April.

Earlier this month, delegates at the annual convention of the country’s biggest secondary teachers’ union warned of an “impending catastrophe” due to shortages of examiners and superintendents willing to correct exams.

Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) delegates voted unanimously for a 30 per cent increase in rates of pay for marking exams.

It said payments to examiners for marking individual exam papers ranged from just over €4 to just over €32, depending on the subject and length of the exam.

However, teachers said their take-home pay amounted to “blood money” because tax hikes meant it was less than half of these rates.

Fianna Fáil’s education spokeman Thomas Byrne said it was clear the commission was now “scrambling” to find exam supervisors as a result of delays by the Minister for Education’s in tackling the teacher supply “crisis”.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education, however, said 5,000 extra teachers have been hired in the last two years – more than at any point in the State’s history.

“The State Examinations Commission has advised the department that it is confident that with the ongoing support of teachers, all positions will be filled, just like in previous years,” the spokeswoman said.