Appeals and timing are causing alarm

29th January 2010 at 00:00

The Scottish Qualifications Authority has published data relating to the 2009 exam diet of appeals.

The figures for late or incomplete appeals are of special interest because of the pound;50 penalty imposed on each in 2009.

In 2007 and 2008, there were 949 and 963 "late stage 1" entries respectively. In 2009, this rose to 1,479. The deadline for submission was the tightest I have experienced in three decades of preparing appeal evidence. An SQA official claimed there was nothing unusual about the timing. Why then the huge increase?

The number of "incomplete" appeals more than doubled. It was not good enough, as previously, to say that a prelim had been derived from a range of past papers. To be "reliable", the exact origin of each question had to be stated. A fatuous rationale, but the ensuing re-submission triggered a "late stage 2" penalty.

In total, 4,075 appeals fell into the above categories, raising more than pound;200,000 for the SQA. The money, however, will have come from mostly local authority school budgets, already under stress.

John Samson, Blinkbonny Gardens, Edinburgh.

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