Staff were being hauled out of the classroom to visit other schools, forcing their own heads to put in supply cover, which was difficult to find. There was no point in an exercise which played no part in the exam.
"If a centre does not do it properly, an exam will show it up. If a centre is concordant and year after year it gets it right and kids are passing through, why are we assessing departments? It seems crazy. There is plenty of evidence over the past 15 years about which schools and departments are concordant," he said.
Since new Highers were at the same level as revious Highers, concordancy checks should be relatively easy to implement.
Mr O'Neill suggested moderation could take place where internal assessment forms part of the external exam, although it should be limited to one visit per year per subject.
On marking, he called for standardisation and concordance checks to be reinstated across all subjects. Teachers were also not at fault if they failed to understand national standards in their subject. There was not enough explanation from the SQA about, for example, what a C or A pass in English looked like. Marking schemes had to be transparent.
Markers themselves needed perhaps three-year contracts with a retainer fee to reward loyalty and provide continuity.