State Examinations Commission appeals for teachers to mark exams

Shortage of examiners looms just over a week before starts of Junior and Leaving Cert

There is a  shortage of examiners just over a week  before the start of the Junior and Leaving Cert. Photograph: The Irish Times

There is a shortage of examiners just over a week before the start of the Junior and Leaving Cert. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Education authorities have launched an urgent appeal for teachers to mark the Leaving Cert and Junior Cert with just over a week to go before the start of the exams.

The State Examinations Commission has asked principals to assist in hiring teachers - including retired teachers and newly qualified teachers - to mark exams which are due to get underway in under a fortnight.

At Leaving Cert level, there are still shortages of examiners for the business, English, geography, French, German, home economics, and Spanish exams.

At Junior Cert level, there are vacancies for correcting CSPE (civics, social and political education), Irish, geography, German, history, home economics, maths, religious education, science and Spanish.

“We are now calling on teachers, including recently qualified teachers and retired teachers, to apply,” the commission stated in an email to school principals.

“Applications from teachers competent to mark subjects through the medium of Irish are especially welcome.

“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 has been struggling with shortages of examines over recent years.

Pay

Teachers’ unions say payment rates are too low to attract teachers and have called for a 30 per cent increase in correction fees.

Unions say payments to examiners for marking individual exam papers are too low – ranging from about €4 to about €32, depending on the subject and length of the exam.

In a statement issued in response to queries by The Irish Times, the chief executive of the commission Aidan Farrell said the help and support of teachers and other qualified applicants was vital.

“With the co-operation and active engagement of all those interested in the smooth operation of the Junior Cycle and Leaving Certificate examinations, we can ensure that the marking of this year’s examinations will proceed on target and to the necessarily-high standards,” he said.

“Similar appeals in previous years have been responded to generously and we have every confidence that this will again be the case in 2019.”

Earlier this month, The Irish Times reported that internal commission records showed that shortages of examiners were posing a “significant challenge” to the maintenance of standards in correcting the State exams.

The document, prepared following last year’s exams, noted there were “ongoing and worsening” challenges regarding the recruitment and retention of contract staff.

It said provision of cover was “extremely tight” and required concerted efforts to ensure there were sufficient staff for each subject area.

One document stated: “It was noted that examiner supply continued to be a significant challenge to ensure the maintenance of standards, impact on timelines and movement of materials.”