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by Andrew Learmonth
23 November 2021
Education Secretary seeks to reassure SQA staff over jobs and terms

Education Secretary seeks to reassure SQA staff over jobs and terms

Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has told staff at the beleaguered SQA that there will be no compulsory redundancies when the agency is scrapped.

The letter from the minister followed an announcement from Unite that 84.4 per cent of workers had backed industrial action. The union says staff have been "locked out" of discussions over the future of the body.

Any strike action could cause disruption to this year's diet of exams.

News that the SQA was to be scrapped came after the publication of the long-awaited report into Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) from international education experts, the OECD.

They recommended the government should consider creating a "specialist stand-alone agency responsible for curriculum (and perhaps assessment)". 

At the time, Somerville paid tribute to the staff at the SQA, saying they had “worked tirelessly this year under very challenging circumstances.”

In a letter sent to the SQA yesterday, said:  "I can confirm that SQA can give a commitment to staff that there will be no compulsory redundancies as a direct result of any restructuring required due to replacement of SQA.”

She added that it was her “clear expectation” that terms and conditions would be protected.

The letter did not reassure Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary. "We have absolutely nothing at all to go back to our members with," she said. "Unite will now consult our members on the next steps including an industrial action ballot – ultimately it is for our members to decide whether this dispute is over.”

Responding to the union leader’s comment, the SQA said: “This is an utterly bizarre position for the unions to take. SQA management has today secured commitments from the Scottish Government on job security. We understand this is what the unions recently asked the Scottish Government for as well.

"The commitments on job security were communicated to the entire organisation this morning and mean that all staff can now fully focus on what matters most: delivering for learners."

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