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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 9 August, 2000, 12:45 GMT 13:45 UK
From troubled beginnings
Ken Macdonald exams graphic
BBC Scotland education correspondent Ken Macdonald looks back at the difficult job faced by the Scottish Qualifications Authority

No-one claimed it was going to be easy. Which is just as well, because it wasn't.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority was formed just three years ago to marry Scotland's existing academic and vocational awards into a single system.

It was a task which involved creating new units, new courses, new exams and completely new breeds of qualifications like Scottish Group Awards and Advanced Highers.

A new exam timetable meant pupils faced the final hurdles of their courses later than in previous years - but that left less time to mark the papers and collate the results.

A new results certificate was needed to record all the awards, units, courses and core skills, showing not just this year's results but passes achieved in previous years. And to pull it all together, a new computer system.


There were also persistent claims that the reforms were rushed and under-resourced. That has meant the new courses have been eased in alongside existing ones

Ken Macdonald
Some predicted it was a recipe for trouble and to some extent they've been proved right.

The system finally took flight two years late, postponed by successive education ministers: first Conservative, then Labour.

The first protests came from the staffroom, against the new system's underlying principles.

More recently teachers have complained the new course units - especially the element of internal assessment - did not leave enough time for teaching and learning.

There were also persistent claims that the reforms were rushed and under-resourced. That has meant the new courses have been eased in alongside existing ones.

One of the most controversial of the new Highers, English, was taught by only a handful of schools this year following complaints that the new units weren't ready.

The Scottish Executive has announced schools who feel they're not yet ready for the new English course will be able to postpone it for another year.


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See also:

16 May 00 | Scotland
15 May 00 | Scotland
25 May 00 | UK Education
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