Shortage of examiners to mark nine state exam subjects

An urgent appeal is being made for teachers to correct Junior and Leaving Certificate papers due to a shortage of examiners in nine subjects.

Though there is no indication that results will not issue on time because of the recruiting problems, the level of shortages is much higher than in recent years.

Most of around 118,000 students doing state exams are already finished, just over a fortnight after they began on June 8, and final exams take place today and tomorrow.

However, the State Examinations Commission is still advertising on its website that it urgently needs written examiners for English, Irish, geography, business, German, Spanish and Italian for Junior and Leaving Certificate. They are also seeking teachers to correct Leaving Certificate economics and Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme links modules, and Junior Certificate Religious Education and Civic, Social and Personal Education.

The factors behind the shortage are not entirely clear, but the fees paid to teachers have not been restored since a cut in 2010.

The rates paid per marked script vary between subjects, and whether examiners correct higher or ordinary level but can be more than €30 per student for some higher level Leaving Certificate subjects.

One issue flagged by some teachers has been the pressure in recent years to mark extra papers because fewer examiners were recruited.

Last year, the papers of almost 117,500 students had to be marked, 3,500 (3%) more than in 2010.

However, the 4,307 examiners hired for written papers last year was only 15, or 0.3%, more than it was five years earlier. The commission told the Irish Examiner it could not provide details of the numbers required in each subject this week due to the focus on the operation of the written exams.

While a spokesman said it is usual to continue accepting applications for examiner contracts at this time of year, several education sources have said the situation is more critical than in the past.

For many subjects held earlier in the timetable and for which the highest numbers are entered, including English and Irish, examiners have already attended conferences at commission headquarters to explain the marking systems. These conferences are continuing until July 8.

“Each year, the commission takes all necessary steps to have the marking completed in time for the results to issue as scheduled. This year will be no different,” the spokesman said.

The commission advertised before Christmas for teachers to supervise and correct exams before Christmas, and it is understood there were also difficulties filling positions for superintending more than 5,000 exam halls in schools and other settings.

Fewer than 1,000 of the 60,000 Junior Certificate entrants still to complete papers in classical studies, Italian, Ancient Greek and Latin. Italian is also one of the eight subjects left to be taken by Leaving Certificate students today and tomorrow, along with agricultural science, music, technology, applied maths, religious education, Japanese, and Russian.

The results of Leaving Cert exams are due in schools in mid-August, and Junior Cert results normally issue to students around the second week of September.

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