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Schools snub chance to speak out on SQA revamp

PROPOSALS to shake up the Scottish Qualifications Authority have created so little interest that only eight secondary schools and seven further education colleges bothered to respond to the consultative document issued to 1,500 organisations last October.

A report summarising responses to the consultation, which preceded a Bill now going through the Scottish Parliament, found broad support for a slimmed down board of no more than nine members, a larger advisory council to represent "stakeholders" and new powers for ministers to intervene.

The consultation found "considerable support" for the reduction in the size of the board, although there was concern that a membership of between seven and nine might be too restrictive. The Scottish Executive believes, however, that this will "allow the board to operate effectively".

The new members, appointed by ministers, come from a mixture of business and education backgrounds . The only school representative is Margaret Nicol, principal learning support teacher at Madras College in St Andrews and a past president of the Educational Institute of Scotland.

Ministerial powers to regulate the proceedings of the board also found support from most of those who replied. But their backing was on condition that "the power should only be used as necessary, for example in the event that difficulties such as those seen in relation to diet 2000 were experienced again".

The contention by Sam Galbraith, Education Minister at the time of the debacle, that he had limited powers to intervene inflamed the row over the crisis and played its part in undermining his position.

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