SQA chief Colella quits to figure out new role

Neil Munro

One of the most distinctive figures in Scottish education is to leave his post - and the education scene itself.

Anton Colella, aged 45, is moving on from his job as chief executive of the Scottish Qualifications Authority in September to take on a similar role in charge of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland.

He has no obvious background for his new role, other than one in a challenging leadership position, having been a religious education teacher in the Catholic sector before moving into school management.

Mr Colella had a meteoric rise when he was picked to be the "schools' voice" in the SQA following the exams debacle of 2000, one of a group sent in to rescue the organisation who inevitably were dubbed "the parachute regiment".

Within only two-and-a-half years, Mr Colella had risen from being depute head at St Margaret Mary's Secondary in Glasgow's Castlemilk to head the SQA in 2003 at a salary of over pound;90,000.

He was the organisation's fourth chief executive in the previous four years, but the first with a secondary school background. That was widely seen as giving him credibility and his experience and considerable showmanship were key factors in bringing stability to the SQA.

One insider said Mr Colella was "a terrific public face for the SQA and represented us well, but his influence was such that he also represented our customers well within the organisation".

He was also credited with an open approach. This was apparent when the Tories called for an independent review of the exam system when last year's results showed ever-increasing pass rates. Mr Colela ensured the message got across that "we would welcome an independent scrutiny of our standards system."

John McCormick, the SQA's chairman, said Mr Colella had built a strong management team who would lead the organisation while a successor was recruited. The post is being advertised today.

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Neil Munro

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