Fri 12 Feb, 2021

They don’t appear to trust Scotland’s teachers, a feeling which is most certainly mutual. Ross Greer

Scottish Greens education spokesperson Ross Greer MSP has branded the Scottish Qualifications Authority “not fit for purpose” and called on the Scottish Government to sack the board of the bungling exams body.

The West of Scotland MSP has written to Education Secretary John Swinney, stating that trust in the SQA ‘is now all but non-existent’ and proposing that the exam body’s board of management be asked for their resignations.

In their place, the Scottish Greens have outlined a board structure which would reserve places for those representing parents/carers, young people, teachers unions, Scotland’s headteachers’ association and college principals.

According to their biographies on the SQA website, the eleven current board members include just one headteacher and no classroom teachers but three are listed as former or current ‘management consultants’. At least half of board members must be qualified teachers or college lecturers under the Greens’ plan.

Last summer the Scottish Greens forced the Scottish Government to reinstate students awards based on teacher assessments, after they had been moderated down by the SQA based on historical grades at the school they went to. 

Ross Greer MSP said:

“The SQA’s board of management is not fit for purpose. If it were, many of the scandals in recent years might have been avoided and the consistent decline in teacher confidence in the Authority would have been addressed. The current board just don’t have the educational expertise needed for this important role, so I have asked the Education Secretary to request their resignations.

“The Greens have proposed a new board structure, one which would ensure it has the relevant skills and experience to oversee the SQA. For a start, a majority of board members should be qualified teachers or lecturers. Time and again we have seen the SQA take decisions which make life harder for those actually delivering qualification in our schools and colleges. They don’t appear to trust Scotland’s teachers, a feeling which is most certainly mutual.

“In January I discovered that, despite a period of school closures being one of the most predictable scenarios for this school term, the SQA did not plan for it. They were left completely unprepared for something that absolutely everyone else saw coming. Only yesterday were the requirements for all subjects finally published. In some courses the SQA is insisting on exams in all but name, despite there being no way to tell when all senior pupils will be able to return to class for such a test. It was a similar story with National 5 courses late last year, showing again that the SQA is not a body which learns from its mistakes.

“While the arrogant ‘we know best’ attitude and lack of transparency probably doesn’t originate with board members, they are ultimately responsible. It’s time the Scottish Government cleared out the current board and forced a fresh start, populating its replacement with people who actually understand education.”

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