Anna, my examiner story transcript

Have you ever greeted your students from the exam hall and wanted to ask a million questions about how it all went? I have and most teachers I know feel exactly the same.

My name’s Anna, and this is my examiner story.

Having always had several year 10 and 11 groups as well as a heavy A-level timetable meant that exam requirements, alongside the crucially important subject knowledge, were an ongoing feature of the CPD that I attended.

About five years into my teaching career, I realised that I wanted my career to progress within my subject specialism and I started to look around for CPD opportunities that would be subject specific.

At the time it wasn’t easy and a lot of opportunities were whole school positions. I was also conscious that I had only worked in one school, and while I wanted to stay where I worked, I also wanted to have a more outward looking perspective.

It was this that led me to decide to start examining for AQA, and honestly, I have never looked back!

So, in 2010 I started examining for AQA and found that I loved it. I know this sounds a little weird, but for me it is something I genuinely enjoy. Examining is working with students in the same way that teaching is – you are listening to their ideas and trying to follow their thread of argument, you are on their side, willing them to get to the point and often entertained and educated by their ideas and perspectives on texts. It’s so much more than learning and looking for basic rubric, it’s a community of teachers sharing the same values and goals – focused on continuous learning outside the classroom.

My career within the trust I work in has progressed alongside my career at AQA but it’s my in-class teaching that is most impacted by my examining experience. I feel utterly secure in my knowledge of how best to guide students through their two years of study. I know what traps students fall into in exams and I know how to steer them away from making them. Seeing how students perform in the unique environment of the exam hall can be a real eye opener, and one that can’t really be replicated by mock exams.

I vividly remember one of my students skipping out of an A-level exam feeling that she had completely aced it. She had answered a question on Emilia’s role in Othello and was almost giddy with her own success. She said ‘I knew how to answer the question because we’d practised unpicking them.

It was a really good feeling – one I’m sure all teachers will recognise – and I felt that I’d done a good job for this student. The exam and text was something I felt completely secure on, meaning it was something that this student felt completely secure on too.

I am absolutely convinced that it is examining that has made me feel so secure in what I’m teaching and that that security of message is passed onto my school community and my students.

When my students head into the exam hall now, it’s less of an unknown. I still want to know how they’ve got on – I always will – but I feel a continued part of the community and processes working to ensure that when they open those all-important envelopes, they get the result they deserve.