Appointee Management Case Studies

Chief Invigilator‘Never a dull moment!’

Janice Stewart recently gave us an insight into the role of Chief Invigilator

My appointment as a Chief Invigilator was fairly sudden. I was approached by the school at the time of my retirement from teaching. The previous chief wanted to retire and as I knew the pupils, the school, and understood the system, it seemed a perfect fit. I have now done the job for five years and enjoy leading a team of dedicated invigilators.

The school is large — although there are bigger centres — and requires 20 to 25 invigilators at each diet depending on the school requirements and the number of candidates entitled to assessment arrangements. I enjoy, especially, the challenge of planning the invigilator timetable and ensuring that each day’s programme runs smoothly. However, as an invigilation team our priority is to give each candidate the best possible environment to sit their examinations so that they can perform to the best of their abilities. The invigilators must be vigilant, but the ‘atmosphere’ does not need to be oppressive.

The main work of the diet starts in February/March when I am in direct contact with the school to discuss the accommodation, assessment arrangements, and the number of invigilators required for each day. I contact each member of the invigilation team, usually by phone. I find the personal touch works well. This allows me to get some idea of availability as there are always appointments, etc that need to be taken into account.

With this information, I make a draft timetable that I send to the team. When we have our first meeting at the training session, any timetable problems can be worked out. This meeting, usually, takes place in the week prior to the start of the diet. It is important to explain the job and update the team on any new arrangements as well as answer any questions. SQA Academy has scenarios and quizzes that are a useful discussion tool.

With the SQA examinations, the job is not just supervision. Initially there is the checking of all papers within the school and ensuring they are in secure storage. They need to be stored according to date for ease of sorting on the day.

Being well prepared is crucial. During the evening prior to an examination I will reacquaint myself with the requirements of the day to come. Starting early each day is essential as I must ensure all the papers are removed from storage and sorted for each invigilator. This is where planning helps as it is important to know what each invigilator’s bundle requires. This can be complex with CDs, extra time allocations and data booklets, to name but a few! It is important that this is done early enough to allow the invigilators time to go to the various rooms throughout the school and start the examination on time! When the number of invigilators makes it possible, and once the examination is started, I find time to visit all the rooms to make sure all is OK.

You need to be adaptable as you never know what will happen throughout the day. A candidate feeling unwell, an invigilator who is unable to attend, a CD player that will not work, are some of the day-to-day occurrences that need to be solved. ‘Never a dull moment’ is the saying that comes to mind.

After the end of each examination, which can be at various times of day, it is necessary to oversee the packing of the papers for return to SQA. My depute and myself like to check all the papers into the envelopes. It is worthwhile having a small team to help check on days where there are a large number of candidates. However, the proverb ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth’ comes to mind. If there are too many helpers mistakes can creep in. When all is checked, packaged and put in a secure location for collection by the carrier, I can leave for the day.

I would like to emphasise the importance that a team approach has to a successful diet. Over the years I have been fortunate in the calibre of the people coming forward to act as invigilators and it has been a pleasure to work with such a friendly and dedicated team.