List of jobs for new superquango chief

31st January 1997 at 00:00
For the cost of a new Royal yacht, Pounds 60 million or so, the nation will be getting a new education super-quango, the Qualifications and National Curriculum Authority.

And for an estimated Pounds 80,000, the price of what used to be known as a deputy secretary in the Civil Service, the super-quango will be getting its first high-profile appointment: it was announced this week that the new chief executive will be Dr Nicholas Tate.

The QNCA which, subject to the Education Bill now going through Parliament, starts work next October, will assume the responsibilities of both the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority and the National Council for Vocational Qualifications.

It will have unparalleled responsibilities, regulating the curriculum and the span of academic and vocational qualifications in nursery education, schools and colleges. Only university degrees will fall outside its remit.

Dr Tate will immediately start work on the QNCA, cutting down his current job as SCAA chief executive to two days a week.

One of his first tasks is to set about changing the name of the new authority: QNCA, usually pronounced "quanka", is causing consternation.

His appointment has been announced in spite of the continued failure to find a chairman, normally the first appointment. Sir Ron Dearing, until recently the high-profile chairman of the SCAA, has decided not to join the new body.

Much of the QNCA's work in the coming years will be dictated by the full diaries of the two current organisations, SCAA and the NCVQ. This includes the introduction of baseline testing for five-year-olds; preparing the next review of the national curriculum; implementing Sir Ron Dearing's huge list of recommendations about qualifications in the 14-19 age range; and carrying through a list of changes designed to improve the standing of vocational qualifications, including the introduction of new, simpler, assessment procedures.

In the longer term, the QNCA will seek to establish a nationwide framework for qualifications, guaranteeing standards of monitoring and assessment in all publicly funded courses. This will embrace the hundreds of new certificates generated by further education colleges and industrial bodies which, at present, fall outside the national vocational qualification system.

"This is a very special body with an enormous span of responsibility, from under-fives right through to vocational qualifications," said Dr Tate this week. "It is vital that the body develops a strategic oversight." The sheer scale of the new operation will involve new ways of working, he said, to ensure that no one aspect of education eats up the lion's share of time and attention. This is thought likely to involve a powerful new committee structure.

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