Tories call on Scottish Government to take over running of under-fire SQA
The Scottish Conservatives are demanding that the SNP takes ministerial control of the SQA – over fears there has been “substandard practice” at the beleaguered exam board.
The SQA has been dogged with controversies during the coronavirus pandemic, most notably problems with its grade-awarding algorithms and a damning OECD report which called on the exam board to drop its “19th century” exams system.
Last week, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) reported that the SQA has failed to give due regard to reducing discrimination and promoting equality in their policies.
Now, following questioning from Scottish Greens MSP Ross Greer at today’s education committee in Holyrood, the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Shirley-Anne Somerville, admitted there has been failings.
Somerville told the committee: “Clearly, there has been a sub-standard practise in years gone by.
“That has been recognised and those historic policies are now being looked at and actioned.”
This has led Scottish Conservative MSPs to call on the SNP to take ministerial control of the exam board.
Speaking after the committee meeting, Tory Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education, Oliver Mundell, said: “The SNP are trying to down-play that the SQA is not fit for purpose and a liability to Scotland’s education system.
“Shirley-Anne Sommerville is in denial by refusing to step in and take direct ministerial control of a public body that is spiralling out of control.
“Instead the cabinet minister gives her full confidence to the SQA. Teaching staff and pupils who have been let down will not share that confidence.
“Equality implications are not an added extra. They are a legal requirement and describing this breach as ‘substandard practice’ is a massive understatement.
“This situation is untenable and urgent action needs to be taken to prevent more students and pupils feeling the rough edge of an inadequate SQA.
“The Scottish Conservatives demand the SNP take responsibility for this catalogue of catastrophes by assuming ministerial control of the SQA.”
The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.