'Examinations tsar' mooted for Scotland after SQA marking fiasco

October 6, 2000

Henry McLeish, Scotland's minister for enterprise and lifelong learning, has raised the prospect of an "examinations tsar" to ensure the future accountability of the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

Giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament's enterprise and lifelong learning committee, Mr McLeish said that following this year's fiasco of thousands of incomplete, inaccurate or late examination results, the question of a quality assurance commissioner "may have to be looked at sooner rather than later".

Mr McLeish said he firmly believed in the need for an independent examinations authority that was "not corrupted or influenced" by government. "But what we have got now is simply not working."

University and college leaders warned Members of the Scottish Parliament that they do not want civil servants taking over the SQA's role. Joan Stringer, vice-convenor of the Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals, said principals felt this would not help transparency and that the SQA should continue as a quango.

A drop in higher education applicants from England has raised fears that the reputation of Scottish education has been harmed by the examinations fiasco. Coshep told the committee that applications from English candidates are down by almost 15 per cent.

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