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Friday, 6 October, 2000, 07:45 GMT 08:45 UK
Exam chief's damning report
Bill Morton graphic
Mr Morton outlined a series of problems at the SQA
The interim chief executive of the Scottish Qualifications Authority has outlined a catalogue of mistakes in the run-up to the exam results fiasco.

Bill Morton, who was appointed after the resignation of Ron Tuck in August, has produced a damning summary of events in his written evidence to the Scottish Parliament's education committee.

Mr Morton said SQA management was poor, accountability was lacking, some staff had not been properly trained and there was evidence of concern over bullying.

Ron Tuck
Ron Tuck resigned as head of the SQA
He said his internal inquiry into the problems with this summer's exam results also found poor administration of marking and inadequate planning, preparation and project management.

There was, said Mr Morton, little evidence of checks to prevent errors and omissions, with ad-hoc solutions being attempted as successive problems appeared.

Some staff did not know how to do their jobs and some had not taken up offers of training.

Mr Morton revealed that staff concerns about difficulties were not acted upon effectively or on time and he found evidence of a fear of bullying among workers.

He told MSPs that he has had to implement key changes immediately because of the seriousness and scale of the problem and further fundamental changes were in the pipeline.

Earlier this week, Enterprise Minister Henry McLeish said Mr Morton was conducting a rigorous probe.

Clear indication

In his evidence to the enterprise and lifelong learning committee, which is also conducting a parliamentary inquiry, he said: "There are big sticks being wielded in that organisation and Bill Morton is doing a thorough, thorough, thorough examination of what needs to be done."

On Thursday, further evidence emerged that senior officials failed to react to a clear indication of problems with this year's exam results.

The Scottish Executive and education officials were told before this year's Higher results came out that pass rates had fallen to their lowest level in more than six years.

The figures - obtained by BBC Scotland - showed a pass rate of just over 65% - about 5% down on the previous year and a sharp break in what had been a rising trend.

Reacting to Mr Morton's report, Scottish National Party education spokesman Mike Russell MSP said he wanted answers from Education Minister Sam Galbraith.

Brian Monteith
Brian Monteith: "A damning indictment"
He said: "I think there are very big questions now about his department - what they knew and when they knew it.

"They should have known everything that was happening in the SQA. It appears they either didn't know or they didn't tell anybody."

Tory spokesman Brian Monteith said: "Bill Morton's evidence on the SQA is a damning indictment of the management practices of the SQA.

"One would expect a minister like Sam Galbraith to know something of this.

"It's important he now reveals the advice of his officials so he can clear his name, if he doesn't the finger of guilt points at him."

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 ON THIS STORY
Political reporter Elizabeth Quigley
"Bill Morton quickly came to the conclusion that the SQA was in disarray"

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05 Oct 00 | Scotland
04 Oct 00 | Scotland
29 Sep 00 | Scotland
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