BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Scotland  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Monday, 21 August, 2000, 18:05 GMT 19:05 UK
Exams fiasco places pledge
Bill Morton
Bill Morton says students will know their results soon
University admissions body Ucas has said 600 Scots students will be late entering the race for university places because of the Highers fiasco.

However, the Scottish Executive has made assurances that extra places will be funded - if necessary - so pupils will not lose out.

Meanwhile, head teachers are questioning the standard of marking and say it could lead to a flood of appeals.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has dismissed that as "scaremongering."

The SQA hopes that 2,000 candidates will receive their correct results on Tuesday after staff worked over the weekend to clear the backlog of incomplete, inaccurate or missing results

Sam Galbraith
Sam Galbraith: More criticism
But some 3,000 youngsters are facing another wait before the confusion surrounding their grades is lifted.

The executive estimates that, as a result, 600 will be entering the university clearing system late because of the problems.

Ministers have pledged to fund extra places to accommodate students if necessary - with the money coming from Henry McLeish's enterprise and lifelong learning department budget.

SQA interim chief executive Bill Morton said the vast majority of these students would be dealt with in a "matter of days".

But he said he now wanted to verify all the Standard Grade and intermediate results.

Appeals 'flood'

"We are going to check to make sure there are no problems and I would not want to cause any further anxiety," he said.

Questions over the marking of exam papers have been raised by head teachers who are increasingly concerned that problems with marking has caused a collapse in grades and will lead to a flood of appeals.

SQA staff check results
SQA staff worked throughout the weekend
Mr Morton said the issue would be examined as part of a review into the problems surrounding this year's exams.

He said: "As far as I can determine so far, the marking process this year has been the same as it has been in previous years.

"My objective is to try and offer reassurance and not to have scaremongering running freely."

Schools can usually predict exam results from the previous year's standard grades.

But that has not been the case at schools like St Columba's in Kilmacolm.

Rector Andrew Livingstone said the school had expected to gather about 95 A passes among fifth years compared to the 60-plus received by pupils.

'Anomalous' results

"We are an accurate school. The drop is so marked that there must be some reason for this to have occurred," he said.

Donald Mathieson, of the Headteachers' Association of Scotland, predicted the number of appeals would soar.


Although the SQA is an independent body, there is no doubt that it is the duty of the education minister to ensure that the body is functioning properl

Raymond Robertson
"If we assume that there was a two to three-fold increase in what we would regard as anomalous results, then perhaps we can expect that kind of dimension of increase in the number of appeals," he said.

Mr Morton admitted that the SQA was expecting an increase in the number of appeals from its usual figure of about 40,000 a year.

There have also been fresh calls for the resignation of Scottish Education Minister Sam Galbraith over the continuing crisis.

Scottish Tory chairman Raymond Robertson - who as a Scottish Office minister set up the SQA four years ago - said the agency was never intended to be free from ministerial responsibility.

Minister 'responsible'

"Although the SQA is an independent body, there is no doubt that it is the duty of the education minister to ensure that the body is functioning properly," he said.

The Scottish National Party said Mr Galbraith's position was becoming increasingly untenable. The minister has persistently refused to resign.

South of Scotland SNP MSP Christine Grahame has written to every secondary head teacher in the Borders in an effort to gain what she calls a "clearer picture" of the problems.

Three inquiries are expected into the exams problems, being undertaken by the SQA, the Scottish Executive and the parliament's education committee.

The executive will announce by the end of the week the membership of the group which will conduct its investigation, which could last up to eight weeks.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Andrew Cassell
"The could be more problems ahead"
BBC Scotland's Kenneth Macdonald reports
"School heads are raising questions over the marking of the exams"

Key stories:

Highers analysis:

TALKING POINT

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

20 Aug 00 | Scotland
18 Aug 00 | Scotland
19 Aug 00 | Talking Point
18 Aug 00 | Scotland
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Scotland stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Scotland stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes