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EDITIONS
Monday, 25 November, 2002, 12:48 GMT
Exam watchdog 'must be independent'
tests
The QCA sets tests for seven, 11 and 14 year olds
The exams watchdog should be fully independent of government ministers' control, head teachers say.

Heads fear the relationship between the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) and the Department for Education is "unhealthy" and are calling for reform.


QCA must be entirely independent of government

David Hart, NAHT
As well as regulating A-levels and GCSEs, the QCA sets national tests in English, maths and science for seven, 11 and 14 year olds on which key government targets are based.

The QCA is accountable to ministers, not Parliament - unlike the schools watchdog, Ofsted.

In its submission to the Tomlinson inquiry into what went wrong in this summer's A-level grading fiasco, the National Association of Head Teachers calls for an independent QCA.

Independent

In his first report, Mr Tomlinson cleared the QCA of any wrongdoing, but the whole saga left the QCA vulnerable to attack.

NAHT general secretary David Hart said: "QCA must be entirely independent of government."

"The current relationship is unhealthy in the context of the government's intimate involvement in its target setting agenda."

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "The government will study closely all the recommendations made by Mike Tomlinson in his final report on the future of the A-level system due in a few weeks, including the role of the QCA."

"The way forward is to focus on re-establishing confidence in the A-level system and ensuring standards are clear."

The cross-party Commons Education Select Committee is currently examining the QCA's role.

See also:

17 Jun 02 | Education
14 Jun 02 | Education
31 May 02 | Education
15 May 02 | Education
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