The Scottish Qualifications Authority believes it is close to cracking problems with the recruitment of exam markers after a last-gasp effort to stir the professionalism of teachers.
A personal plea to staff in schools and colleges from Colin MacLean, the national exam co-ordinator, is beginning to pay off, a spokesman said. Only a few hundred more markers are needed to reach the target of 8,000, plus a 10 per cent contingency to cover late withdrawals.
Recruitment has always gone on right up until the last moment, the spokesman pointed out.
"We have gone from volume recruitment to pinpointing in 11 specific subject areas," he said.
Mr MacLean's letter, issued last wek, said difficulties remained in administration, biology, computing, English, French, geography, German, history, home economics, mathematics and physical education. The SQA admits it has less of a pool to draw on in some new subjects and new courses.
The authority has been targeting the 1,600 teachers and lecturers who indicated an interest in marking but who had not finally responded to appeals. It estimated last week that somewhere between 500 and 2,500 new markers were needed - depending on responses - but a telephone campaign to potential recruits has substantially reduced the target.
"The picture is now much brighter than it was a week ago," the spokesman said.