SQA orders up the reserves in last-ditch push

UP TO 800 willing and able secondary teachers have been called up to the national marking front in a desperate, last-minute recruitment campaign, stretching to phone calls at home on a Sunday morning.

With the annual examination battles set to conclude on Monday, Scottish Qualifications Authority generals have resorted to unprecedented measures to ensure some 4 million scripts are marked on time.

They are attempting to increase the number of markers from 6,500 to 7,300 since the marking period has decreased from three to two weeks. "There remain pockets where recruitment falls short of requirements," Don Giles, an SQA director, told schools last week.

Compensation has been offered if headteachers release volunteers for vital work - two days off teaching for two days' marking at home.

An under-fire SQA spokesman blamed the toughe exam schedule, starting roughly two weeks later and compressed by a week. Results still have to be issued on the glorious 10th of August.

"What is often not understood is that we have offered markers a reduced allocation of scripts. The SQA is not demanding that markers do the same volume of work within a shorter period, although given the pressure on recruiting markers, the authority has been grateful when they have been willing to take a bigger allocation," the authority's spokesman said.

"However, it is up to each marker to decide whether they wish to accept an increased script allocation. The SQA does not see any threat to the quality of marking."

The changes had nothing to do with cost-cutting.

John Patton, president of the Educational Institute of Scotland, pinned the blame squarely on Higher Still (page five).

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