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Friday, 3 November, 2000, 13:55 GMT
Report savages exams authority
SQA staff
The report says the SQA is "fragile"
A consultants' report has listed a catalogue of management failures by the Scottish Qualifications Authority over the exams crisis.

Deloitte and Touche said there had been a number of weaknesses and difficulties.

Education Minister Jack McConnell has accepted the resignation of SQA chairman David Miller and is taking legal advice on the membership of the 24-strong supervisory board.

"There is a minimum requirement for a number of board members," he said.

"We want to restructure the board to create a more streamlined, effective organisation.

"Between now and then we have to have a group of people in place who can carry out the legal duties."

The report said:

  • Management failed to develop appropriate plans for the functioning of the organisation

  • They did not deploy resources properly

  • Not enough exam markers were recruited

  • Staff were unproperly trained

  • The problems were not reported to the SQA board and the Scottish Executive.

No one single problem lay at the root of the SQA's poor performance this year, according to the report.

While "data handling issues" were a "critical flaw" in the exams issue, it would be wrong to conclude this was the only deficiency.

It went on: "Rather, there were weaknesses and difficulties in a number of interlinked management, process and information systems areas which cumulatively overwhelmed the delivery of National Qualifications for Diet 2000."


The SQA is in a fragile condition, with management and staff both feeling extremely bruised and demoralised following recent criticisms

Deloitte & Touche report
Each member of the SQA board has written to Education Minister Jack McConnell offering to quit after he approached chairman David Miller asking the board to resign.

Dealing with operational processes, the report said: "It is our overall conclusion that the events that led to the examination crisis are primarily attributable to a failure to plan for Diet 2000 adequately and to identify and address the implementation problems evident from an early stage in the new awards processing system."

There were "significant problems" in the distribution of scripts to markers, resulting in more than 65,000 unmarked scripts having to be allocated as late as mid-June.

Staff 'bruised'

The capabilities of the senior management team should be reviewed to ensure they had the necessary skill and experience for next year's exam operation.

The report said: "At the present time the SQA is in a fragile condition, with management and staff both feeling extremely bruised and demoralised following recent criticisms.

"This is likely to be compounded with the publication of this report and the reports of the two parliamentary inquiries.

History papers
There were insufficient numbers of markers
It was also important to acknowledge the vast majority of staff worked "exceptionally" hard for a long time in a "desperate attempt" to ensure this year's exam procedure successfully achieved its 10 August objective.

Mr McConnell said the problems "simply cannot happen again nxt year".

"We must restore confidence and put in place a means of monitoring progress that informs and involves all stakeholders including parliament,"

'Stark picture'

"The report by Deloitte & Touche paints a stark picture of an organisation with significant management weaknesses, where poor strategic and operational planning led eventually to a data management crisis from which it could not recover in time."

Mr McConnell said he was taking "immediate and comprehensive action" to ensure it did not happen again.

He also suggested that a merger of the SQA's two split sites in Glasgow and Edinburgh was a possibility.

Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell: "No recurrence"
He has appointed Scottish Homes chairman John Ward as an interim replacement for Mr Miller.

The entire board had been asked by Mr MrConnell to resign.

One of the members, Ann Hill, said she had tendered her resignation on Thursday - as she had done in April and August.

She told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland: "I got a phone call from David Miller on Thursday evening to tell me that the minister had asked the board to resign."

Board 'lacking'

She admitted to mixed feelings, but said: "It is probably time that the board went.

"That would allow the minister to restructure and gives him the flexibility to do that.

"Jack McConnell has done what Sam Galbraith should have done a long time ago, and that was ask for the board's resignation."

She felt there had been "a lacking" in the board, but denied that it had fallen down in its duties.

The Scottish School Boards Association representative also said the SSBA had alerted Sam Galbraith, the former education minister, to the problems back in March or April.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Andrew Cassell
"According to the report, the SQA did not grasp the scale of the task it faced"
Education Minister Jack McConnell
"An appalling picture of poor management"
SQA board member Ann Hill
"It is probably time that the board went"

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See also:

03 Nov 00 | Scotland
02 Nov 00 | Scotland
01 Nov 00 | Scotland
15 Oct 00 | Scotland
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