Appointee Management Case Studies

Alex Laird: Chief Invigilator, Portobello High School

Chief Invigilator

I became an SQA Chief Invigilator when my predecessor in the role had decided to retire and the school was looking for someone willing to take on the role, ideally for several years. I have worked in education and was already familiar with the exam system, which is still an advantage even with the more streamlined current system. This post allowed me to gain an insight into a completely new aspect (for me) of the examining process.

The role involves the secure storage and distribution to invigilators of exam materials (papers, answer books) as well as calculators, drawing aids etc. I organise a rota for invigilators, making sure that all exam rooms are properly covered. I am on hand to deal with any unforeseen difficulties (and there are always some), and finally am responsible for securely packaging exam scripts for return to SQA.

I really enjoy the job. It is very varied and involves a range of skills – organisational skills, communication skills, good memory (for rules, candidates, precedents …). It offers me the chance to work with a very wide range of people: the candidates, the teaching and administrative staff at the school, SQA personnel, and my team of invigilators, many of whom I have worked with for years.

The role is definitely challenging, especially in a large centre, and quite intensive, but it also leaves you free to concentrate on other areas for most of the year. Nonetheless, it keeps you in touch and up to date with what is happening in education. It is rewarding to help candidates to get a fair opportunity to perform at their best to secure a bright future. Others did it for me in my own school and university career, and I can now contribute to the good conduct of exams for the next generation.