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Sunday, 15 October, 2000, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
Managers shake-up at exams body
Bill Morton
Bill Morton wants a more flexible exams organisation
The interim head of Scotland's exams body has revealed plans for a middle management shake-up in the wake of this year's results crisis.

Bill Morton, who was appointed after former head Ron Tuck's resignation, outlined proposals for a pared down management structure in the wake of failings he has already identified within the SQA operation as part of his ongoing review.

The 21 section heads within middle management would be replaced by a smaller number of general managers and while it was hoped to recruit those in existing posts to the new positions, external applicants would be considered.

History papers
Mr Morton has already identified failings
But he denied that the process would also mean two SQA directors having to reapply for their posts.

In an exclusive interview with BBC News Online, he said: "What we are essentially doing, as discussed with the board yesterday, is we are realigning the SQA so that it relates much better to its core business.

"It's core business is qualifications development, qualifications assessment and award.

"In doing that it's possible to streamline the structure of the organisation in order to introduce far greater flexibility."

In a report to the Scottish Parliament's education committee inquiry into this year's exams fiasco, Mr Morton revealed a series of flaws within the organisation.

What we need to be able to do is we need to be a bit more nimble, a bit more fluid in the way that we are structured and the way that we work

Bill Morton
He told MSPs that management was poor, accountability was lacking, some staff had not been properly trained and there was evidence of concern over bullying.

And he said he would have to implement rapid changes in order to get the SQA back on track.

Speaking on Sunday, he said: "It's quite clear to me that the market that we are in is changing quite rapidly, for example in the use of information technology.

"So what we need to be able to do is we need to be a bit more nimble, a bit more fluid in the way that we are structured and the way that we work.

Ron Tuck
Ron Tuck resigned after problems came to light
"That entails also a move away from what is a kind of a rigid structure which is centred around 21 different functional units.

"To facilitate that, not only will the senior management team and the board be working in terms of providing a clear direction as to how the business of the SQA should develop, but the way that it runs can be simplified.

Mr Morton said the SQA was considering proposals for a "small number of general managers" responsible for the business.

This, he said, would allow the SQA to become a more effective organistation.

Mr Morton said this would mean a paring down of the middle management structure.

'Empowered managers'

However, he added: "It's very important to acknowledge the people in the organisation, they're the ones who have got the knowledge of how the SQA must run, so they will have a contribution to make to the future.

"But in a sense a movement to general managers does mean you are introducing a smaller number of more empowered managers."

Mr Morton said he believed the SQA would find the general managers from within the organisation but added that there would be "an open recruitment process, meaning outside applicants".

However, he rejected a Sunday newspaper report that the restructuring would also mean that two of the existing directors, Don Giles and Dennis Dunning, would have to reapply for their posts.

He said: "I am content that these two directors have the knowledge of how this organisation will work and it is vitally important that this is recognised externally that I rely very heavily on these two gentlemen."

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See also:

09 Oct 00 | Scotland
No guarantee from exams chief
06 Oct 00 | Scotland
Exam chief's damning report
05 Oct 00 | Scotland
More exam results questions
04 Oct 00 | Scotland
Exams agency set for shake-up
29 Sep 00 | Scotland
Exams fiasco 'costing millions'
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