Mairi Macleod, Examiner/Senior Examiner
I am the only teacher of Home Economics at Islay High School, a small island school where I have taught for the last 13 years. At Islay High we have removed age and stage restrictions from S3–S6, and pupils join classes and study courses according to their interests and abilities. All our courses are one-year courses.
I have been an SQA marker since 1999 (as soon as I was eligible to apply — after 3 years teaching experience). I joined the SQA examining team in 2008 and subsequently became Senior Examiner for Standard Grade Home Economics in 2009 (for the 2011 Diet).
Since becoming an SQA appointee I have increased my knowledge and understanding of the use of marking schemes, effective question design, and the processes involved within SQA’s examination system. Learning from other (more experienced) professionals within the subject/team and seeing the wider picture is a huge benefit.
Having a voice and being able to participate in and direct the development of my subject is very rewarding. The professional dialogue with other subject teachers is very valuable, and I don’t feel so isolated as the sole Home Economics teacher in an island school.
Joining SQA as an appointee has allowed me to have a more positive impact on the teaching and learning in my class and on maintaining motivation. It has also helped increase my confidence.
The work can be challenging and time consuming, and you must be personally committed to it. However, the insights you gain directly benefit pupils and colleagues in the school. Your perspective is widened and it helps clarify your understanding of SQA procedures.