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Texting times for exam chiefs

It is rather a nice irony that news of the national exam body embracing the texting power of mobile phones comes at a time when it is also forced to clamp down on their misuse (page three). The Scottish Qualifications Authority is showing an appropriate sense of balance. The technology makes perfect sense for bringing exam results to pupils in the more far-flung parts of the country and, perhaps, to everybody else in due course. On the other hand, the authority has sent out a signal that the use of mobile phones to cheat in exams is an offence punishable by a "no award". We are glad to note, however, that the SQA is not being draconian: unit results are not affected, only the end-of-year exam which candidates can sit again next year.

Exams are, of course, artificial and the ban on external aids such as mobile phones, notes and calculators is not something that is replicated in real life. But exams are a test of ability and performance, so some restrictions are inevitable. Fortunately, however, in these days of lifelong learning, they are not the one-off chance for success they once were. Pupils who experience disappointment when the results come out next week, and those who guide them, should remember that.

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