Faith in the piper

August 27, 1999

I am stunned by the suggestion that the Quality Assurance Agency should itself be quality assured ("A piper who does not play the payer's tune", THES, August 20). This would be to challenge the ways and wisdom of the deity - and a wrathful one.

I here borrow my theology from a former chief education officer for West Yorkshire who once said that only divine intervention could explain the fact that the number of pupils passing the 11-plus exam in any county was exactly equal to the number of grammar school places, despite big variations between counties in the percentages of places available.

Likewise the fact that following teaching quality assessment visits, further mature reflection by panels of varying experience and composition has not to my knowledge resulted in the alteration of a single grade in a single unit of assessment, even after protests from institutions have alerted the QAA to possible errors of judgement.

This simply reveals that the initial judgements must have had heavenly guidance. Ipso facto, no formal checking or higher appeal mechanism is required.

The QAA is a priori omnipotent and evidentially omniscient. Calls for it to show humility, reveal its inner ways to mere mortals, or even review the justice of any of its commandments, should be firmly resisted by all true believers.

May the Faith be with you.

Christopher O'Hagan Professor of educational development University of Derby

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