It was manic at school last week. Exams, exam pressure, kids panicking, teachers trying to drum in last-minute tips, end-of-year ball frenzy… and then it stopped. Wham! You can almost imagine the tumbling tumbleweeds.
But the exams continue. My offer to be used as a last-minute stand-in invigilator was called in and this morning I monitored a scribe who was helping out a pupil with a broken hand. I spent a restless night as the full import of my decision sank in – I’d sold out to the establishment. I hated exams as a kid. Detested them with a passion and now I was the one monitoring this latest batch of GCSE hopefuls. I was the dreaded one with the gimlet eye and stern expression.
When I woke up I still felt horrid about being the ‘baddie’ in this remake of one of my worst times of school. But, and this was a huge but, it was completely different to the way I remember. The scribe and I smiled and chatted to the examinee while we set up, putting her at her ease, making sure she had everything she could want, opening the windows to make her more comfortable… I don’t remember that cosy feeling. Then again, maybe the examinee didn’t feel cosy either, her nerves were probably far too strained to notice all the cushioning and she will still leave with the impression of having been through the equivalent of a screaming ghost ride at the fair without the fun.
I feel much better now and no longer wish to hide my head in shame at my role on the ‘other side of the desk’. I actually feel like I made a difference to her day because she could have had the examiner from hell instead of me.