Critics 'unfair to blame SQA alone'

27th October 2000 at 01:00
DR MALCOLM Green, a prominent member of the Scottish Qualifications Authority board, has dismissed the Inspectorate view that it was not the principal force behind the Higher Still reforms that led to the results collapse.

His view is shared by senior education officials in Glasgow who say "it is unfair to heap all the criticism solely on the SQA". They say the role of HMI in advocating Higher Still's content and pace should be closely examined.

Dr Green last week told the education committee, which he used to chair: "The Higher Still development was largely driven by the Inspectorate. The Scottish Qualifications Authority was simply handed the job to do - rather too readily, with hindsight."

Two weeks ago, Douglas Osler, senior chief inspector, told MSPs during the Parliament's inquiry into the SQA crisis that HMI was only one player. Decisions about Higher Stillimplementation had been taken by ministers based on advice from several quarters.

But Dr Green, one of the most experienced councillors in Scottish education, rejected that analysis. The way Higher Still had been pushed by the Inspectorate was "fundamental" to the issue.

Dr Green believed there was a need to review how curriculum change is developed, looking more critically at the burdens on teachers and markers, whose remuneration had to be better.

The city council states in its submission to MSPs: "HMI cannot help shapeadvise on policy and then be expected to evaluate it fairly and accurately. It is clear that the assessment burdens, coupled to the new teaching materials, were too great for the new SQA system to handle."

It believes the principles of Higher Still are broadly acceptable, but says the pace of development "has clearly been flawed".

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