HMI blamed for 'train rushing out of control'

6th October 2000 at 01:00
David Henderson and Neil Munro report on the latest exchanges as Holyrood continues to probe the exams fiasco

HIGHER STILL was "a train rushing out of control", doomed to hit the buffers because of its complexities, Judith Gillespie, development manager of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council and a long-standing member of Higher Still committees, told MSPs.

Mrs Gillespie said the programme's inherent weaknesses contributed to the exam authority's downfall. The burden of internal unit assessment was the principal faultline.

She blamed HMI for failing to listen to widespread concerns but rejected SNP claims that ministers must have known about the scle and seriousness of the problems. No MSP on the education, culture and sport committee probably knew anything about the details of Higher Still implementation before the present crisis and ministers were no different.

Given the programme's "sheer complexity, someone was going to make mistakes".

Mrs Gillespie doubted whether her view about first phasing Higher Still at intermediate levels was taken seriously.

There was a "powerful ethos" within HMI to get the programme up and running. Even when it ran into difficulties in the spring, inspectors were at odds with directors of education and unions over its success.

Scotlandplus, 2-3

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