Chronic lack of trust from teachers and parents in the SQA

Ross Greer, Education & Skills spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (23 Nov) challenged the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) over what he termed 'issues of teacher trust'.

In June this year, Mr Greer questioned the Education Secretary in Parliament about the National 5 computing science exam paper, which was full of errors and described by some teachers as one of the worst ever set.

This week, geography teachers claimed that this year's Higher exam was the worst ever.

At today's meeting of Holyrood's Education Committee, Mr Greer asked the SQA to explain why their initial response to concerns over the computing paper publicly dismissed teachers' concerns.

SQA chief executive Janet Brown acknowledged that some teachers do have concerns about what the SQA does and that the organisation's processes are under review.

Ross Greer, Education spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for the West of Scotland, said:

"The overwhelming weight of evidence to our committee shows a chronic lack of trust from teachers and parents in the SQA. Exam papers littered with errors cause huge stress for students as well as the teachers and parents supporting them. The SQA’s initial response to concerns has effectively been a defensive PR exercise, dismissive of teaching professionals highlighting genuine errors. This only damages trust in the SQA further. Teachers shouldn’t have to ask me to raise these errors in the Parliament for them to be taken seriously but that was the case here.

"While the SQA says it reviews its quality control processes, I think many teachers will remain sceptical. The SQA, and Scottish Ministers, need to work harder at actually listening to teachers and students and ensuring that young people are not presented with such shoddy examinations in the future and that concerns are listened to rather than automatically rebutted."


Education Secretary blasts errors in National 5 computer exam paper (Daily Record, 9 June)

Swinney slams SQA over ‘incomprehensible’ exam (Deadline News, 11 November)