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New pressure for 'default passes'

THE "default pass" proposal to ease the transfer of data between schools and colleges and the SQA is once again on the agenda.

Both Michael O'Neill, director of education in North Lanarkshire, and George Haggarty, spokesman for the Headteachers' Association of Scotland, suggest schools would benefit from passing on to the SQA only details of candidates who failed, postponed or withdrew from internally assessed units. All others - two-thirds - would be assumed by the SQA to have passed.

But Mr Haggarty accepts the system would have to be refined as several thousand pieces of information were apparently missing this year.

The SQA ruled out introducing the system after carrying out a risk assessment. In the event, the authority was able at the end of May and the beginning of June to manage a large volume of data quickly and now feels confident it can do so again without changing the system.

Schools and colleges, however, argue their burdens would be considerably reduced by the default pass mechanism. Mr Haggarty also believes there is less need for repeated checks on data now that the system appears to be effective.

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