Shortages of examiners in key subjects just days before start of State exams

State Examinations Commission seeking qualified teachers to correct 10 subjects

The State Examinations Commission is seeking teachers to fill vacancies for examiners across several subjects ahead of this week’s exams.

The State Examinations Commission is still seeking teachers to fill vacancies for examiners across several subjects just days ahead of the start of the Junior and Leaving Cert exams.

The commission is seeking qualified teachers to mark Leaving Cert German exams as well as four Junior Cert subjects: German, home economics, religious education, and civics, social and political education (CSPE).

In addition, it is looking to fill vacancies “as they arise” in Junior Cert geography, business, French, Irish and English.

A spokesman said the commission will continue to appoint examiners right up to the start of the marking conferences in June.


In recent years it has run recruitment campaigns right up to the start of the marking process and has always secured the co-operation of teachers, including newly-qualified teachers and retired teachers, in filling vacancies and meeting the needs arising from examiners dropping out.

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

In its statement it did not state how may vacancies remain on the basis that it is “still in the process of finalising panels across all subjects and the total numbers appointed will not be available until after the examinations”.

While a deadline of mid-December 2017 was listed on application forms for examiners, the commission has run an extended recruitment campaign and made a direct appeal to school principals for their assistance in hiring teachers.

As a result, it said, it has been successful in filling examiner positions in most subjects.

Teachers’ unions predicted earlier this year there would be shortages of examiners 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.

Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) delegates voted unanimously at its annual convention 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.

The commission said there were many positive benefits for teachers in engaging in examining work.

They include enhancing their teaching; gaining a deeper understanding of the assessment process; increasing their professional development and career prospects; as well as the opportunity to earn extra income.

“We need teachers to undertake this role and would encourage teachers, including recently qualified teachers and retired teachers, with the relevant subject expertise, to apply at this time,” a spokesman said.

While Opposition parties and teachers' union say there is a teacher supply "crisis", Minister for Education Richard Bruton has accepted there are pressure points in some subjects.

He has said a taskforce has been established to examine ways of boosting supply for teachers in subjects such as European languages, science, maths and Irish.

Department of Education officials have also pointed out that 5,000 extra teachers have been hired in the past two years – more than at any point in the State’s history.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent