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The best-laid motto o' mice and the SQA

The Scottish Qualifications Authority is ready for action in just over two weeks: it has a crest, a motto and a logo. We assume it has taken the precaution of creating the only other essential, a mission statement.

The motto will disappoint two areas of assessment. It is not in Latin or Greek and therefore the continuing decline of classics under the SQA is likely. Nor is it in Gaelic.

Michael Forsyth, born-again believer in Alba, can take consolation that the authority has chosen Scots. Burns in fact. "A pride o' worth" is taken from "A man's a man", and was the brainchild of David Elliot of the Scottish Examination Board.

There was a flurry of activity to make sure that the quotation was exact, but the most difficult problem fell to David Miller. As chairman of the SQA, which has now met twice, Miller had to persuade the board to plump for one of five mottoes that made it to the short leet. He says: "I almost suggested something in Arabic or other obscure language in order to get a decision."

So what about the logo? Schools and art colleges were put to the test, but the professionals of a design agency got the gold star, or rather the gold tick, for that sign of approbation is featured along with a saltire.

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