Schoolchildren face more disruption in their exams this summer – because of a shortage of invigilators spooked by the fear of catching Covid.
A warning from the Association of School and College Leaders says the shortfalls are having to be covered by other staff as well as parents on some occasions.
The union thinks the lower number of invigilators is down to them finding alternative work coupled with concerns over contracting coronavirus in schools.
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.’