Aliens stopped my Skoda...

19th December 2003 at 00:00
I was driving home from work after a late night when the Skoda started to falter. The road was deserted. I dropped a gear and floored the accelerator but everything stopped dead.

Only the radio remained on, but it was broadcasting a Dave Lee-Travis lunchtime show from 1974. I tried to get out, but the car doors were jammed. Suddenly, I felt myself moving upwards through a tunnel of light.

Then I was strapped to a table, clutching a can of de-icer I'd grabbed.

Strange, grey creatures hovered over me. Behind them I could see three translucent caskets, each containing a member of the pop group Atomic Kitten. One of the grey beings raised some sort of surgical instrument.

Instinctively, I squeezed the trigger of the de-icer. There was an ear-piercing scream and the next thing I knew I was back beside my car with three very grateful pop stars clinging to me. The following day, at school I discovered that one of my Standard grade appeals had been successful.

Now I appreciate that most of you reading the above find part of it hard to believe, but it's true. I did indeed successfully appeal on behalf of a candidate. Far-fetched though it sounds, whoever judged the evidence I submitted this time ran out of reasons to reject it. In the last few years, the appeals process has reminded me of the Monty Python "Cheese Shop Sketch", where the salesman has a different excuse for the non-availability of a staggering variety of dairy produce. ("Cheddar? Not much call for it around here, sir.") Everyone can tell an appeals story. My favourite came from a central belt physics department where the principal teacher wanted upgrades of both the "knowledge" and "problem-solving" elements of a candidate's paper. Whoever assessed the knowledge gave a knock-back. The questions were not of an appropriate level. The PS adjudicator was more generous. Heshe granted the appeal.

For those not familiar with S-grade physics, the questions assessing knowledge and PS elements are contained within the same paper; often one question has subsections assessing both.

I'm being a wee bit unfair. The "automatic appeal" procedure which happens before the results are issued seems to be fairer, more effective and more transparent. Good. Now, SQA people, either tighten up on the rest of the procedure or send us all a big poster reading "Atomic Kitten say: Don't bother appealing!"

Gregor Steele still intends to be appealing next year.

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