On Tuesday, I went to the markers’ meeting in Glasgow, an annual event attended by the hard-up, hardworking or just plain masochistic teachers who volunteer to mark (in this case) Higher English – the English exam taken by Scottish pupils who hope to gain university entrance.
Markers come from all over Scotland and you meet some people there year after year. Rather pathetically, it feels like a bit of a day out. I get the train through to Glasgow, which counts as excitement in my life, and a taxi – a rare event – to the venue. We then get free coffee and muffins! Later, even more thrillingly, there’s a free lunch.
We’re paid £2.67 per script and the first evening it took me three hours to mark seven scripts. I reckon that’s about 60 pence per hour. This is the point in the process when you think about how free that lunch actually was… .
I’ll speed up, though, once I become more familiar with the passages and the questions and stop agonising so much over the exact shades of wrongness of some of the students’ answers.
On the train on the way home I talked to a fellow marker whose teacher husband left her for the school secretary a few years ago. Now the deserted wife has a new partner, a millionaire businessman. He’s actually an old flame who sought her out after thirty years apart. You couldn’t put this in a novel because it would seem unrealistic, but there she was, glowing with happiness and prosperity.
I bet she won’t be doing The Marking next year…
And now I must ignore my garden in the evening sunlight and get down to work with a red pen.