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Nearly there?

THERE is only one question as midsummer eases towards the start of the new session: will the Scottish Qualifications Authority succeed where it palpably failed last year? The indications are that it is on top of events but assurances could easily disintegrate in the face of cold reality come August 14.

The authority has essentially run a damage limitation exercise over the past year. It rejected the default pass mechanism that would have slashed the extent of reporting on internal tests in favour of tightening its internal procedures, improving system checks and communication with schools and colleges. Yet many still complain about failings, even if schools themselves are not infallible in data processing.

Nevertheless, others are cautiously optimistic. The comforting fact is that the SQA knows the position on missing data this year and has given itself time for a fix. Provided certification passes its test, the focus will switch again to the complexities of Higher Still. As a parents' survey shows (page three), students taking five Highers face multiple and sometimes less than relevant assessments. Changes announced in June have yet to convince a doubting workforce.

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