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5th September 2014 at 01:00

The SQA didn't listen to Galbraith. Will it listen now?

In your fine appreciation of the first education minister in the Scottish Parliament, the late Sam Galbraith (pictured), you refer to the exams fiasco in 2000 (" `He was immune to political criticism' '', 22 August). His obituary published in The Scotsman on 20 August has this paragraph: "As the responsible minister, he took the formal flak but pointed an unusually aggressive finger at the Scottish Qualifications Authority, saying he had warned it time and again of the dangers of the system but it had refused to listen. `Worthless,' he once called its methods."

Refusing to listen remains the hallmark of the SQA. A review of its implementation of the National exams has found a significant and unsustainable level of over-assessment. Teachers' organisations were well ahead of the report's authors in raising concerns about this matter. Complaints about the SQA's poor provision of support material for schools also went unheeded.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Parliament's Public Petitions Committee has either blocked or rejected a request from Aberdeenshire teachers to establish a watchdog body to oversee the management of the SQA. The current education secretary, Mike Russell, apparently has no issues with this quango. He assured readers of July's Holyrood Magazine that the SQA "always do their job". I doubt Mr Galbraith would have agreed.

John Samson
Edinburgh

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