Students across the UK are facing face more disruption during their exams this year, because of a shortage of invigilators who have been spooked by the fear of catching Covid.
This year sees a return of A levels and GCSE exams for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020
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The Association of School and College Leaders warn that the shortfalls are having to be covered by other staff as well as parents on some occasions.
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But despite the ASCL sounding the alarm, the Department for Education said it was confident schools could cope – insisting they would have ‘robust plans in place’.
ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton said invigilator shortages meant schools had to train their own staff to do it.
He added: ‘It is also clear that there are sufficient difficulties in recruiting enough invigilators. It would obviously reassure these staff if free Covid testing was available for exam students and we once again appeal to the government to make this simple and obvious provision.
‘We also have to question whether it is right to continue to subject young people to such a huge number of high-stakes terminal exams at GCSE as is the case in the current system.
‘Stress and anxiety were already problems pre-pandemic. It must surely be possible to slim down the exam system and make it more proportionate and humane.’
Usually every 30 students need to have one invigilator covering them, but the number has been increased to 40 due to the shortfall.
Rules forbidding teachers from supervising their own subjects have also been relaxed.
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