Credibility gap

2nd February 2001 at 00:00
Bill Morton, Scottish Qualifications Authority chief executive, would love to say this summer's exams will run smoothly as they once did. But asked this week whether it will be all right on the night, he replied:

"Ask me in August."

The authority believes it is doing all it can within a tight timetable to ensure the good governance of Scotland's public examination system. As little change and as much checking and cross-checking as possible seems to be the strategy for delivering results on time and with improved reliability.

No one at the SQA, however, is ruling out a repeat of last year's dbacle, even if on a modified scale. First Minister Henry McLeish may have, rashly, promised a no-repeat but others have been more guarded, including Jack McConnell, the man in charge of education.

Schools and local authorities certainly fear the system is far from foolproof and continue to relate tales of uncertainty in registering candidates and course entries, as Fife and East Dunbartonshire have established(page 4). The system is still the same complex one as last year and software problems remain, according to authorities. Confidence has still to be regained as the exam clock runs down.

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