THE STATE EXAMINATIONS Commission (SEC) has issued an urgent appeal to teachers to apply to mark the Leaving and Junior Certificate examinations, which begin next Wednesday.
The call includes requests for recently qualified and retired teachers across both sets of examinations to apply to correct the exams.
A spokesperson for the SEC told TheJournal.ie that there are currently “sufficient examiners to conduct the marking in most subjects, with small deficits in some”.
Teachers’ union the ASTI says that a potential shortage has arisen “because the marking of exams is extremely onerous work and the pay is insufficient”.
The Education and Training Boards Ireland posted a notice on its website linking to the appeal, saying that the positions are open to teachers “irrespective of experience and those who have just recently completed their teacher training”.
In their appeal, the SEC said that the “number of available reserve examiners is currently tight in all subjects”.
There are nine subjects where there are “particular needs at present”, it said. They are:
- Leaving and Junior Certificate Spanish
- Leaving and Junior Certificate German
- Leaving Certificate Business
- Leaving and Junior Certificate Irish
- Leaving and Junior Certificate Italian
- Leaving and Junior Certificate Home Economics
- Junior Certificate CSPE
- Junior Certificate Religious Education
- Leaving Certificate Ordinary Level Mathematics
In recent years, recruitment campaigns have been run right up to the start of the marking process it said, with recently qualified teachers enlisted, and the SEC has “every confidence” that they will fill all the vacancies required.
On the application form to apply to be an exam marker, it says that applications should be returned no later than 31 January 2017.
A spokesperson for SEC said that this was “always a soft date” and “was removed from the recruitment section of the website and a message was displayed making it clear that we continue to welcome applications”.
Four months on, this urgent appeal comes just a week before over 120,000 students sit the Junior and Leaving Cert examinations.
The SEC says that it will continue to appoint correctors until 14 July.
The results of the Leaving Cert are issued in mid-August, while the results for the Junior Cert are issued in September.
ASTI said that the shortage of correctors was due to pay cuts in the sector dating back to the economic crisis.
A spokesperson for the union told TheJournal.ie: “All of the pay cuts that were applied to teachers’ salaries in recent years were also applied to rates of pay for marking exams.
None of the pay restorations applied to public sector salaries have been applied to the rates of pay for marking exams.
The spokesperson added that both the ASTI and TUI had raised the issue with the SEC on numerous occasions, and warned that it could negatively impact the recruitment of examiners.
A spokesperson for the SEC told TheJournal.ie that examiners rates of pay have remained constant since 2010, with no change in the rate of pay for this year.
They added that the numbers required in some areas were in single figures and that they did not want to cause alarm with the appeal:
It is important to note that this latest appeal is not meant to be alarming but to reflect the fact that the number of applications received from teachers to engage in the work of marking examinations is less than we would like to have, particularly in the listed subjects.