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'Complacent'watchdog clears out managers

A MAJOR shake-up of the management of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority was being finalised as The TES went to press this week.

Dr Ken Boston, the QCA's chief executive, is presiding over a clear-out at senior level of an organisation he condemned earlier this year as "complacent and unfocused".

Seven out of eight new general managers, who will sit on the authority's executive, have been appointed. Five of these are outsiders, from non-education backgrounds, including three from energy companies. Three senior executives currently serving as divisional heads have been made compulsorily redundant, according to union representatives.

A further 36 principal managers were told earlier this year that their jobs were at risk and were due to learn on Wednesday whether they had held on to their positions.

Dr Boston's reorganisation is a response to last year's A-level fiasco and has created a new division focusing specifically on the testing regime, which has come under repeated fire in recent months.

There was also speculation that the QCA's press office could be expanded as the authority tries to improve its communications with the public.

The Public and Commercial Services Union, which has 300 members among the QCA's 490 staff, said the changes had been made with little consultation, and without adequate job descriptions being provided for applicants. It threatened employment tribunal challenges if redundancies are made.

Jason Hogg, the union's negotiations officer for the QCA, said morale in the organisation was at rock bottom. A survey of 84 staff last month found 70 per cent said they were considering leaving over the way the shake-up had been handled. He said: "The staff that are most affected all have excellent performance records and were not the cause of last year's troubles."

A QCA spokesman said it had fully consulted staff and the PCS during the re-organisation process, and that the shake-up would "enhance the QCA's reputation as a truly world-class organisation".

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