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Higher Still heads for a makeover

Ministers may yet act within the next month to slash the bureaucracy involved in Higher Still unit assessment, a key factor in the exams fiasco. Reforms would affect students this session.

A more radical slimming down of assessment is expected to be introduced next year, after the inquiries into the SQA report and further talks in the Higher Still liaison group which reconvened on Wednesday under the chairmanship of Sam Galbraith, Children and Education Minister.

Unions remain cautious about too much change this autumn when teachers are already well into teaching courses.

The meeting failed to produce immediatesolutions after considering plans by the Scottish Parent Teacher Council to downgrade unit assessments.

However, a Scottish Executive spokesman said the meeting identified a number of points that will be followed up quickly, "including data handling and any simplification of the system this year". There will also be "urgent action to augment the Higher Still implementation review to look at the operation of internal assessment".

Margaret Nicol, president of the Educational Institute of Scotland, insisted:

"Higher Still internal assessment must be reduced if the exams' disaster is not to be repeated."

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