Dr Simon Hyde
HMC General Secretary
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Alongside congratulating our students in HMC schools across the world on their results today, HMC General Secretary, Simon Hyde, takes a moment to thank the army of examiners who have worked to make today’s celebrations possible.
Most of us remember the moments when we have been handed that eagerly awaited or much dreaded envelope that contains our results. Whether things have gone well or less well, we are normally surrounded by fellow students ready to celebrate or commiserate, by teachers keen to congratulate or advise, as well as parents and guardians keen to share this rite of passage. It is an opportunity to acknowledge the work of the last few years and all those that have been a part of it: teaching and support staff as well as friends and relatives.
As examinations return following two years interrupted by Covid, it is worth sparing a thought for the army of people involved in setting, marking and overseeing examinations. If any heroes are unsung, these are the people, who like IT technicians tend to be the subject of complaint when things go wrong rather than of appreciation when things go right. Admittedly, the work involved in setting and marking examinations is remunerated, but few involved would be tempted by the money. They do it for professional satisfaction and development, because they wish to be able to help and support their pupils by gaining a greater insight into the exam system or because they feel a sense of duty.
I have never met an HMC Head who did not support members of staff seeking to become an examiner. The time required for training is considerable and the prospect of sitting down to mark mountains of papers (showing my age) when others are discussing holiday plans is disconcerting, but somebody has to do it and I am glad I did. The sense of responsibility is enormous, especially for those new to examining. And whilst there are much better systems to monitor and oversee marking quality these days, as a marker, one is aware that one’s judgements can impact on students’ futures. Senior examiners have even greater responsibility in setting papers that are accessible and fair, but an appropriate test of what students have learned.
Behind the examining teams sits another army of administrators, subject officers and ancillary staff working for the examination boards. Even as an examiner, it is easy to overlook the people putting scripts into envelopes or scanning them onto computer screens, but all play a vital part in ensuring today’s celebrations happen.
So, let us take a moment today, when the attention is rightly focused on the achievements of our young people, to acknowledge the work of examiners and those that support them. Views may differ about the place of examination in our assessment system, the reliability of that system and options for the future, but without our army of markers, today would not have been possible. Thank you.