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Counting the cost of appeals

According to the Scottish Qualifications Authority's advice on processing appeals, the pound;55 penalty per late submission is not a source of revenue but merely a contribution to the expenses incurred. The authority asserts that fees collected in 2011 provided only 55 per cent of the costs. In the absence of more detailed figures, this is difficult to accept.

If a subject required 100 late appeals to be processed last year, the penalty fees would have raised pound;5,500. If this represents only 55 per cent of the total, then pound;10,000 was spent on dealing with 100 candidates.

So how would this pound;10,000 be distributed? The SQA says that there are extra administration costs. This implies that it is paying staff some form of overtime, yet there is no mention of this in the annual report 2009-10, when penalties were first introduced.

As for the cost of assembling examiners, a school business manager tells me that his centre is never fully compensated by the SQA for the supply staff needed to cover teachers on SQA duty. Anyway, the SQA now scans and transmits scripts for initial marking. Why not do that for appeals?

The SQA must be more transparent about this issue. It appears that they are indeed deploying revenue-generating (and cost-saving) strategies at the expense of schools while continuing to give bonuses to themselves.

John Samson, Blinkbonny Gardens, Edinburgh.

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