Suspended official gives evidence for first time

27th October 2000 at 01:00
During the course of this week's parliamentary inquiry, calls were made for a radical shake-up of the SQA, Neil Munro reports

JACK GREIG, the SQA's former head of operations charged with the "secure conduct" of the exams, gave evidence for the first time in a measured performance to answer charges from his former colleagues that his department caused the chaos.

Mr Greig was on compassionate leave following the death of his wife, took sick leave in June and was relieved of his duties in July. He was suspended in early August, although he had already been granted early retirement from September.

He claimed his unit had been "overworked and undervalued" within SQA. It had lost a third of its staff shortly after the SQA was set up in 1997 following a "unilateral decison" by Ron Tuck, the former chief executive. Those who were left were neither sufficient in number, seniority nor experience.

Mr Greig accused the SQA's senior management of "losing sight of the core business", the issuing of accurate results.

He said he continually pressed for more staff and drew attention to the delays in the delivery of software to carry out key tasks, but management failed to take the problems seriously.

Software sometimes arrived as data was being entered, with no time to do field tests, Mr Greig said. By the time he was relieved of his duties, the software for appeals had not been written and neither had the system for passing results on to schools.

By the end of June, the problems had become "an accident waiting to happen".

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