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'Critical flaw' was not the sole cause

THE Deloitte and Touche inquiry found that while data handling issues "were, ultimately, a critical flaw in Diet 2000, it would be inappropriate to conclude that this was the only deficiency in performance or that the arrangements for data handling were the single cause of the problems.

"No one single problem lies at the root of the SQA's poor performance this year. Rather, there were weaknesses and difficulties in a number of interlinked management, process and information systems areas which, cumulatively, overwhelmed the delivery of national qualifications for Diet 2000."

The organisation had "a relative lack of breadth and depth of management skills and expeience within the senior management team". Among the results were:

An ineffective merger between the SQA's predecessor bodies.

Inadequate strategic and operational planning.

A failure to grasp the "holistic" nature of the challenges for this year's exams.

"Systemic data handling problems" which were almost inevitable within the operations unit because of wider deficiencies.

Poor management in the appointments section which led to difficulties with markers and marking.

An "extremely high risk" decision to embark on a new awards processing sytem with no contingency plan for Higher Still, and not enough emphasis on testing the system.

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