SQA hits back after being told to ‘take a short, hard look at itself’

Professor Ken Muir told the Education, Children and Young People Committee the exams body needed to consider its practices.

SQA hits back after being told to ‘take a short, hard look at itself’ by Scottish Government advisor Professor Ken Muir iStock

The Scottish Qualifications Authority has hit back at the author of a report that called for the organisation to be scrapped.

The exam body’s chair said evidence given to a Holyrood committee by Professor Ken Muir “contained a number of misrepresentations and inaccuracies”.

Earlier this month, Professor Muir’s report into the overhaul of Scotland’s education system including the scrapping of the SQA and Education Scotland was published.

On Wednesday, he told the Education Committee if the central bodies are simply rebranded he will have “wasted six months”.

He said the SQA would have to look at its own practices, despite being scheduled to cease existing in 2024.

Professor Muir said he noticed something was “amiss” when reviewing surveys of local government leaders and their perceptions of the SQA.

“All of that pointing very much to an organisation that very much needs to take a long, hard look at itself – or a short, hard look at itself, more likely, as opposed to a long, hard look,” he said.

“There are a number of things – culture, leadership and governance – that I think are three keys that current executive management team needs to consider.”

But the SQA has hit back at the Scottish Government’s independent advisor claiming the expert’s evidence contained “a number of misrepresentations and inaccuracies”.

SQA chairman David Middleton said he was “surprised and disappointed”.

“We agree with Professor Muir that education reform is needed, with learners at the centre,” Mr Middleton said.

“There is a real appetite for change within SQA, and we recognise the need to listen, reflect, and act. However, the complex functions that SQA carries out on behalf of the Scottish Government are not delivered in isolation.

“They are part of a much wider education system, and change must happen in every part of that system if we are to realise our aspirations. We all need to take a long – or short – hard look in the mirror.”

The examination body has faced heavy criticism, most recently for its revision support materials supposed to help pupils sitting exams after a year of Covid-19 disruption to their education.

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