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Hazelhead Academy head teacher Brian Wood
"I think we have to be patient and hold our nerve until we see what the results are saying"
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EIS General Secretary Ronnie Smith
"This is a very elaborate and very complex system"
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Tuesday, 15 August, 2000, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
EIS seeks Higher Still review
SQA staff at work
SQA staff are working flat out to check results
Scotland's largest teaching union has called for a full review of the controversial Higher Still reforms in the wake of the exam results crisis.

The Education Institute of Scotland said the complexity of the new system may have contributed to the current problems.

The demand comes as the new head of the Scottish Qualifications Authority starts the task of trying to sort out the continuing chaos over this year's results.

Staff are working around the clock to validate the exam certificates of all 147,000 candidates.

Bill Morton, who has been appointed temporary chief executive of the SQA following the resignation of Ron Tuck, is widely believed to be facing a tough task.

Sam Galbraith
Sam Galbraith: Under pressure
Education Minister Sam Galbraith has promised that students will not miss out on their chosen university course because of the fiasco, which began last Thursday.

But Ronnie Smith, the general secretary of the EIS, said the new marking system was a recipe for disaster.

He said: "This is a very elaborate and very complex system, with a series of internal assessments which have to be set by teachers, marked by teachers and the results fed into the SQA.

"So, the capacity for error is very much greater."

Mr Smith said he was concerned by the amounts of data necessitated by the Higher Still process and he urged the Scottish Executive to widen an inquiry to reflect that, rather than sticking to a review of the workings of the SQA only.

'Youngsters returning to school'

Hundreds of students up and down the country were left bewildered when their results were not delivered on time.

Others, who did receive their exam certificates, claimed they had been given incorrect results.

The handling of the issue has shattered confidence in Scotland's exam system.

It is understood Mr Morton - who is currently chief executive of Scottish Enterprise Forth Valley and director of senior staff development for Scottish Enterprise - has been told by First Minister Donald Dewar and Mr Galbraith to start re-building now.

Girl writing
Pupils do not know where their future lies
He takes on the task as youngsters around the country prepare to start their new term.

Schools in some parts of Scotland have already begun to return after the summer break.

Brian Wood, the head of Aberdeen's Hazelhead Academy, said it was a period of confusion for pupils who were unsure what direction they can take.

He said: "The results were sent through to the school electronically late on Friday, only for us to find out we hadn't been provided with the software to read the information.

Helpline live

"The software arrived yesterday morning (Monday) and office staff and some of the senior staff were very busy throughout the day loading that software, finding out how to use it and the eventually printing off the results."

Meanwhile, a telephone helpline for worried pupils waiting to learn if they have secured a university went live on Monday morning.

The service has been set up by university admissions service Ucas.

The Ucas helpline can be contacted on 01242 227788. Queries can also be sent by email.

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See also:

14 Aug 00 | Scotland
Dewar backs education minister
14 Aug 00 | Scotland
Resignation calls fall on deaf ears
14 Aug 00 | Scotland
Dewar sets out his course
13 Aug 00 | Scotland
'Results safe' says exam body
12 Aug 00 | Scotland
Exams chief resigns
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