Two things. One of which is a hint if you mark using Epen (if you don’t know what that is, you can assume that you aren’t using it!), and the second is an observation.

(1) If you press CTRL ALT and the “left arrow key” you can rotate your screen and then pop your laptop on its end to get a portrait view so that you can see a whole page rather than scrolling down. To get back your normal view you need to press CTRL ALT and the “up arrow key”. Hope that helps!

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(2) This will be contentious. You have been warned. Every exam marking season several candidates make comments on their scripts that they didn’t have a calculator (I’ve always marked paper 2) and each time I’ve read it my heart sinks and I get a little antsy at parents and teachers (sorry but its true!). First and foremost what parent wouldn’t provide their chid with a £5 calculator? – I know the type of parent that I would accept this is an issue for, but I am assured that most students that this happens to don’t have parents that would fit that profile. I also know the argument from teachers about making students more independent and responsible and its a valid one, but what message are we sending them that we would allow them to sit a calculator exam without a calculator (the phrase involving a nose and face springs to mind!). I am sure that in some cases it really isn’t true that they cant afford one but guys, its bigger picture stuff here (for both the students and the school). Several years ago, the school where we work had issues with equipment so made the decision (and a bid was put into our Headteacher) to minimise the issue and so, for the maths exams they are provided with “exam packs” that include everything they need to sit the Maths exam (not all exams!). They are checked prior to the exams and replenished and then put back into storage until they are needed again.

I don’t see this as negating the students responsibility at all. It just makes sense given the high stakes and whilst we are judged on results every little thing that can be done will help. I know some of you will be bloody-minded about the matter but ask yourself where in the real working world are you asked to provide your own equipment in order to do your job? Who provides your laptop? Stationery?

Some of you will think that it is a very simplistic view I hold, and maybe that is true – I just can’t see what benefit there is in not providing equipment and the hassle and time involved in ensuring they (try to)  remember is really not worth it. I would rather I spent that time focussing on revision, planning and teaching! (x 5 teachers in our department = big impact)

On the flip side … if a student forgets a pen for my lesson! that is unforgiveable! Well actually I operate a 3 strikes and you’re out policy (“out” actually means I call home and discuss the matter to ascertain if there is something more “we” can do to ensure that their child comes prepared to maths lessons … funnily enough it never happens again!)