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EDITIONS
Friday, 27 April, 2001, 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK
McConnell hears exams fears
Exams results box
There is concern over time for marking
"Grave concerns" about the arrangements in place to deal with this year's exam results have been raised by Scotland's second largest teaching union.

The fears were addressed to Education Minister Jack McConnell at the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association annual conference in Peebles.

The SSTA warned delegates of growing concern among teaching professionals about the lack of time they have to mark exams and about the dramatic fall in staff morale.

Union president Bill Fitzpatrick said: "Many of us have serious doubts that the Scottish Qualifications Authority will get things right this year.

Exam sign
There is a shortfall in exam markers
"We have already seen problems with administration and with the recruitment of markers, a process which has been sadly mishandled even after we were assured the SQA had all the markers needed."

He added: "In the last year we have seen many problems in Scottish education, ranging from the near catastrophic to the serious.

"The more leading figures in the educational establishment have tried to explain away, cover up and deny responsibility, the more the phrase 'a right bunch of comics' seemed appropriate."

Mr Fitzpatrick said teachers' morale was still suffering after last year's exam fiasco and urged education leaders to step up their attempts to get things right this year and listen to teachers' needs.

He warned: "You cannot repair decades of neglect and underfunding in a trice and you cannot raise morale in a disillusioned profession overnight.

"If there is to be a 'brave new world' then all sides will have to change."

The union called for a number of changes including the reduction of workloads and administration duties and guarantees that staff would receive promised pay increases.

Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell said education was at a turning point
It also called on local authorities to do more to help staff who had been physically or verbally abused in the classroom.

But Mr McConnell told the conference the situation had improved for teachers and urged them to continue to do their best for the country's future generation.

He said: "I believe that we are at a turning point.

"Turning away from insecurity and resistance towards a positive approach to change and turning our education services into world beaters again.

"The difference a good teacher can make to the life and aspirations of achild is immeasurable.

"Opening the doors of learning is the single most important means through which we end injustice and exclusion."

Mr McConnell concluded: "Teachers and inspectors share with us a common goal. To create and deliver an education service characterised by quality and achievement, which delivers the opportunities our children need, for the future they deserve."

See also:

15 Apr 01 | Scotland
05 Apr 01 | Scotland
23 Feb 01 | Scotland
19 Jan 01 | Scotland
12 Dec 00 | Scotland
11 Dec 00 | Scotland
10 Dec 00 | Scotland
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