Guidance on recruiting invigilators

Thursday 14 Dec 2023

Over the last few years, many schools and colleges have found they've been unable to recruit enough invigilators to cover their exams during the summer. To help prepare you for summer 2024, here's some guidance and advice from The Exams Office on recruiting invigilators.

When to recruit

We strongly encourage you to start recruiting invigilators as soon as possible – then promote your vacancies again around February half term.

Where to advertise

You should use the most effective advertising opportunities to recruit invigilators, particularly those which are free. These include:

  • your school/college website – you should use the vacancy section of your school/college website, and make sure to include all relevant details such as job description, person specification, remuneration and any other requirements
  • your school/college newsletters – if you publish newsletter updates for parents, include details of invigilator vacancies within these, signposting to the school/college website for more information
  • parents' evenings – these are a great opportunity to promote your invigilator vacancies to parents/grandparents/carers in person
  • NAEO Exams Recruitment and Vacancy Map – this tool has been developed to provide schools and colleges with an opportunity to advertise their exams-related vacancies for free. The map is also promoted by the Department for Education
  • local businesses – advertise in shops, supermarkets and other local businesses within the immediate locality of your school or college.

Before recruiting from within the local community, you should be aware that if you recruit a relative, friend or peer of a learner sitting an exam, these individuals must not be the sole invigilator (see the Joint Council for Qualifications' (JCQ) Instructions for conducting exams, section 12.6c).

Who to recruit

As well as any applicants who respond to your vacancies, you should also consider approaching staff who are associated with the school or college who may consider acting as invigilators. This may include:

  • retired or retiring teachers
  • governors
  • part-time school/college staff
  • relatives of staff
  • friends/family of current invigilators.

You'll need to tell them that they will need to be trained on the JCQ's Instructions for conducting exams, and that their competence and understanding of these regulations will be rigorously tested.

Reducing the reliance on invigilators

If you anticipate a shortage of invigilators during the summer exam series, you should think about measures which may reduce the number of invigilators you need.

One option could be to speak to your special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCo) about the possibility of using technology with learners who need access arrangements. For example, learners who need a reader could be made familiar with the use an exam reading pen, allowing these learners to work independently. They could then be accommodated in the main exam room (if using headphones plugged into the reading pen), or with a group of learners in a smaller room, rather than in a separate room with a human reader which would also need an additional invigilator or a roving invigilator.

Likewise, learners who need a scribe could be encouraged to use a word processor as their normal way of working during class time, which would allow them to use this, rather than a human scribe, during their exams.

Contingency planning

Schools and colleges should start to consider contingency plans in case it's not possible to recruit enough invigilators. This may include training specific/all school/college staff at the earliest available opportunity, or finding reputable organisations who provide invigilators for schools and colleges and involving these individuals within your invigilator training programme.

Exams officers should meet with their line manager (who should be a member of your senior leadership team) to regularly update them on the progress made in recruiting invigilators and the measures which will be taken to address any shortage as the summer 2024 exam series approaches.