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Friday, 18 August, 2000, 05:30 GMT 06:30 UK
Schools 'sick' of exams 'shambles'
Boy sitting exam
Some pupils have been "distraught"
A director of the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association has said schools are fed up being blamed for the Higher exam results fiasco.

Barbara Clark, who is an assistant director of the SSTA, said it is "patent nonsense" to blame schools and that the buck stops with Education Minister Sam Galbraith.

She said: "Our members, as teachers, are sick of the shambles that they are expected to try to sort out in schools this week and to explain to their pupils.


I've heard stories of students being absolutely distraught, at the end of their wits, being completely given the run-around by the helplines

Barbara Clark
"Pupils are being left, at times, with the impression that it is the school's fault that their grades are incomplete.

"This is patently nonsense.

"In fact, the major difficulty appears to have been the electronic transmission of data and schools have transmitted the same data three times to SQA.

"SQA seems to have been unable to put that into the certificates which they have issued."

'Political decision'

And she said that the blame for the whole shambles must lie with Mr Galbraith.

"The buck stops at the top, the buck stops with the education minister.

Teacher in exam
Teachers have been able to offer support
"It was a political decision to push ahead this year both with Higher Still and the amalgamation of the two certificating bodies to form the SQA.

"Teachers were concerned at the state of readiness for Higher Still itself, but they worked, they used their professional skills and put a tremendous effort into making sure that the courses were delivered properly.

"They have been hampered by the difficulties that they have had to face in dealing with SQA.

These difficulties surfaced very early on in the session - almost from the first transmission of electronic data when teachers had to register students for courses.

'Disadvantage' fears

"I've heard stories of students being absolutely distraught, at the end of their wits, being completely given the run-around by the helplines.

"Thankfully they have been able to go into their schools and be looked after by teachers, be reassured by teachers and, in some instances, teachers have been able to show young people what is wrong with their grades and assure them of what the correct grade should be."

She said she had listened "very carefully" to Mr Galbraith's pledge that no Scottish pupil would be disadvantaged and she added that she would be delighted if that was the case.

"However, I would point out that advising young people that they may have to be flexible about their choice of university and course is not going to reassure youngsters who may be waiting for a place in the clearing house," said Ms Clark.


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18 Aug 00 | Scotland
17 Aug 00 | Scotland
15 Aug 00 | Scotland
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