The only choice

21st September 2001 at 01:00
THE decision to leave the Scottish Qualifications Authority intact (page six) was the only possible one in the circumstances. The whole Higher Still edifice was founded on the notion of a single qualifications framework, bringing together academic and vocational programmes in an equal partnership. The break-up of the SQA would have led inevitably to undermining that construct. And upheaval is the last thing needed when the exams and courses themselves are going through the mill.

The essential problem at the SQA was the enormous burden it was expected to bear for which it was technically and managerially ill-equipped. It is not clear that any other organisational formula would have done any better. The answer must not be to tear down the superstructure but to make certain the foundations are sound. That will involve giving the SQA the opportunity to get it right without the constant interventions of last session. The Education Minister is correct to focus on improvements to the SQA's management and communication in a way that balances the requirements of public accountability and freedom from political interference.

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