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SQA calls in firefighters

Anton Colella, depute head at St Margaret Mary's Secondary in Glasgow, has joined the senior management team at the Scottish Qualifications Authority to offer critical advice on its exam monitoring over the next three months. A similar appointment will be made from the further education sector.

Mr Colella moves in for two and a half days a week amid mounting concerns over the authority's ability to handle this year's exams. Low morale and stress, continuing computer problems and fears about logging unit assessment results in May have been highlighted by staff associations.

Jack McConnell, Education Minister, told the Scottish Parliament that the depute head's appointment will provide "first-hand experience of the diet from a school perspective and give an insight into the issues that matter to schools and how these can be addressed proactively".

Mr McConnell admitted the SQAhad discovered 400 individual coding entries had been wrongly entered but announced that all schools had now submitted registration data. He acknowledged school oncerns about errors in checking.

He also said that 98 per cent of exam papers were now with the printers, "a solid achievement and contrasts with last year when less than 80 per cent of exam papers had been sent".

There were still problems with recruiting markers in English, French and business-related subjects, Mr McConnell said, but he welcomed a call for volunteers from the teacher unions. As of last week, there were 6,632 appointments as markers with 1,637 invitations outstanding.

Among other issues, Mr McConnell promised candidates would receive individual letters in advance of this year's exams; that the interim report on the new qualifications, including the future of internal assessment, would be published in June; and that the final certificate will be simplified this summer. Core skills would be tucked away at the back.

Some 90 per cent of last year's resubmitted appeals were rejected by independent examining teams. Only 300 candidates succeeded in gaining upgrades, Mr McConnell said.

Leader, page 16

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