Greens call for SQA board to resign after Covid chaos

At least half of SQA board members should be registered teachers, says the Scottish Green Party

Tes Reporter

Covid exam chaos: The Scottish Greens have called for the SQA board to resign

The Scottish Greens have urged the board of Scotland’s exam body to resign and called for an overhaul of the system.

In a letter to education secretary John Swinney, the party’s education spokesman Ross Greer said trust in the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is “all but non-existent”.

Mr Greer proposed a fresh structure for a replacement board, saying it should include representatives from trade unions, parent groups, the Scottish Youth Parliament, FE colleges and headteachers.

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The SQA was at the centre of a storm last summer after the exam diet was cancelled due to the coronavirus and the estimated marks of thousands of students, submitted by their teachers, were downgraded by the body. The grades were eventually restored to the teacher estimates after a Scottish government climb-down.

That led to Mr Swinney facing and ultimately defeating – with the help of Mr Greer and his Green colleagues – a vote of no confidence in him at the Scottish Parliament.

'Bold action is needed for the SQA to regain trust'

Mr Greer said: “I would propose a new model for the SQA board of management, one which draws upon a broad range of skills and experience within Scottish education.

“The voices of frontline educators and learners have been sorely lacking on a board which currently appears to include more management consultants than teachers.”

The Greens have said any new structure must involve at least half of the board members being registered teachers.

Mr Greer added: “This should in no way be interpreted as my questioning the integrity or professionalism of individual board members, nor of the many hardworking staff at the authority, a number of whom have shared their concerns with me over recent years.

“It is, however, reflective of my recognising the extent to which this problem has grown.

“Bold action is required if the SQA is to regain the trust of those it exists to serve.”

A Scottish government spokesperson said: “SQA board members have a wide range of skills and experiences that allow them to function effectively with the SQA management team. They are appointed by ministers in accordance with an open, fair and merit-based public appointments process with all roles advertised and the appointment process independently regulated.

“The approach to assessment this year has been developed by the National Qualifications 2021 Group, which is led by SQA and brings together key education stakeholders. SQA also consults with practitioners, learners and others to help inform decisions.”

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