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Exams with snap crackle and pop

OVER THE years many a breakfast has been ruined when the postie delivers bad exam results. Now the Scottish Qualifications Authority has redeemed itself by mailing cereal packets, though not unfortunately to Higher Still candidates who could do with a good breakfast before tackling the same piece of internally assessed work for the umpteenth time.

The SQA is trying to convince the food and drink industry of the value of training and Scottish Vocational Qualifications in particular. Whether getting a packet of Coco Pops does the trick is another matter. It's a bit like sending coals to Newcastle. But companies using SVQs report productivity up by 20 per cent, quality up 12 per cent, wastage down 6 per cent and accidents more than halved. Just wait until schools report equivalnt benefits from Higher Still English. The country will be awash with Shakespeare's collected works courtesy of the SQA.

Success breeds success and we must expect attempts to boost other areas of activity in need of stimulation. Higher modern languages on the slide? A packet of ripe gorgonzola should have candidates queuing up. Care must still be taken: a delivery of promotional chemicals might be followed by the drugs squad if not the bomb squad.

Other marketing devices will follow. In future, instructions on the exam paper will include: "Read the questions carefully. Write on one side of the paper only. BUT FIRST - Check if your paper is one of the thousands of lucky SQA prize-winners!! Advanced Higher philosophy - your passport to two weeks in the sun!!!"

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