Editor's comment

28th January 2011 at 00:00

It's been a long time getting there, but the eagerly-awaited National 4 and 5 exams are homing into view. And the process that started several education secretaries and ministers ago has been remarkably smooth - so far.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority deserves much of the credit. As it regularly reminds us, never has there been such an open and transparent approach to new qualifications; it even speculates that its approach, involving 1,000 people from all corners of the education system, has been unique in international terms.

But the road to new Scottish qualifications is paved with good intentions. Seasoned observers will recall that the document which launched the last major reform, in 1994, had the reassuring title of "Higher Still: Opportunity for All". How innocent that moniker seems, given the resultant exam results debacle of August 2000 - a memory that still induces a collective shudder within the profession.

The Educational Institute of Scotland, which continues to call for a year's delay to the planned 2013-14 implementation, has cautiously welcomed the imminent publication of "course rationales and summaries", but will reserve a more definitive judgment until more detailed course specifications start to appear in April.

The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association is most definitely not on board. It is still piqued by its expulsion from the Curriculum for Excellence management board last autumn, but its nipping from the sidelines about assessment should draw out strong counter-arguments; cosy consensus is not always the best platform for formulating policy.

There will inevitably be stormy waters ahead. It's just a case of ensuring that they are restricted to the teacup variety, rather than the tsunami of a decade ago.

Neil Munro, editor of the year (business and professional magazine) 2009.

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