Saturday, May 16, 2009


I’m not a person who is particularly easily annoyed, but I was a bit annoyed yesterday. I had a student who was sitting Advanced Higher English – only the one student. It's a national exam which requires an outside invigilator.

This exam may be an hour and a half (one question) or three hours (two questions) – depending on which other options the student chooses. This student was doing the three hour exam, in a room by herself with the invigilator. However, our exam section had misinformed the invigilator that she was only doing the one-and-a-half-hour version. So the invigilator wrested the paper from the student after an hour and a half and, despite her protests, sent her away. Fortunately the girl sought me out; a colleague fetched me from the class I was teaching; and I managed to get the paper back and the exam restarted. But by that time, the student was in floods of tears and probably not in the right frame of mind to do her best.

Now, goodness me, anyone can make a mistake and the original mistake wasn't the lady's fault. But it seems to me that if I were an invigilator and a twenty-two-year–old girl sitting Advanced Higher English assured me that she was supposed to be in the exam room for three hours, I think – even though that wasn't what I had been told – I’d at least investigate: let her start writing the second part and then go and find out what the situation was. Wouldn’t you? Rather than insisting the girl leave and just going off and having a cup of tea, as this lady did?

The invigilator wandered in from her cup of tea while I was sorting this out and didn’t seem at all worried. It was by then 3.30 pm and when asked if she could stay and invigilate for the next hour and a half, ie till 5 pm, she said well, only till 4.45 because she was being picked up then.

Another 15 minutes would clearly have been too much to ask. (We did get someone else to take over from her.)

I don’t mind mistakes. But I do mind sheer unhelpfulness.
Cats in drawers, however, I do like.


  1. Arrrggghhh! I AM easily annoyed. I would have bitten off her head haha.
    Yes, cats in drawers are much more pleasant than some very unhelpful people!

  2. Cats belong in drawers.

    That woman should never invigilate again. I assume she was paid for this duty, and should not be. Complete lack of compassion, casual malice. Sounds like she didn't have anything else to do, either, save take a break.

    Poor kid. I'm glad she got your help.

  3. Oh, that made my blood boil!!!

    I think that student would certainly qualify for the "misadventure" clause, don't you?

    I'd have had immense trouble stopping myself from slapping the invigilator. Hard.

    Yes, the natural enrviron of the cat: drawers.

  4. What an appallingly unhelpful woman, and fancy her not even checking. Just as well you were around to help that poor girl out.
    And mulps again! Indeed a word which the world needs.

  5. That poor girl! Being the only student in an exam is awkward enough (I remember sitting my SYS French and German exams alone and it felt weird) but to then be bullied by the invigilator! Dreadful.

  6. Grrr indeed! People who can't think outside their regularly planned day just drive me nuts. I often wonder how they make it out of their houses in the morning. And thank you for the cute kitty photo -- I've come to depend on them. (Oh, and I learned a new word today -- invigilate!)

  7. what a horrible woman, I hope that the student managed to pull herself back together for the exam. Can she complain?

    ahh cats in drawers.

  8. Cats in drawers do fantastic things for blood pressure, don't they?

    (And YES, I get to meet Loth! Am very very excited.)

  9. This 'invigilator' is a new one on it a Scottish word? Or a position in Scottish education centres? It is a pity that when we are still young and unsure of ourselves, that we can't stand up to people like that. You didn't say here, but I hope you tore the proverbial strips off her. No? You are probably too polite for that. I'm not known for my politeness to ignorant people.

  10. The invigilator sounds awful. Thank goodness you were able to help that poor girl.

    I like cats in drawers, too. And on window sills and sleeping in a sunshine beam and ... well, I just like 'em.

  11. Grrr indeed! How stressful for the poor girl.

    I do like the drawer full of cat!

  12. What an awful, unsympathetic woman! My heart goes out to the poor student. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr indeed!

  13. Ghastly woman. I wish I believed in karma.