Grades for all Scottish pupils in doubt, says professor

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The Independent Online

An education expert said yesterday that the "scandalous" delay in issuing exam results to some Scottish students brought all grades into doubt.

An education expert said yesterday that the "scandalous" delay in issuing exam results to some Scottish students brought all grades into doubt.

As the Scottish Qualifications Authority apologised and blamed "data management problems" for sending incomplete results to hundreds of youngsters, Professor Lindsay Paterson of Edinburgh University said: "All pupils' results must now be cast into doubt. I can't see how universities and employers can possibly have any confidence that any of the results that have been issued are reliable. It's scandalous."

Professor Paterson said the onus was now on the authority to win back public confidence and warned that the drastic step of reissuing all certificates should be considered by the body. The professor of education policy added that far more students may have been affected than the 1,400 the authority has said received incomplete results.

A total of 140,000 students across Scotland had been expecting their Higher, Intermediate or Standard grade results. Professor Paterson said: "The option of reissuing has got to be looked at. Eventually it could be the only solution to the problem.

"The whole thing is such a mess it's very difficult to have much faith in what has been issued thus far. How can anybody - students, employers, or the universities - believe what is on the certificates? More checks need to be made to see if the situation is even worse than it appears. We need a realistic estimate of inaccuracies - the figure given out by the authority is one at which most school teachers would laugh out loud."

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Qualifications Authority would not comment on Professor Paterson's suggestions. She said: "We are looking into all outstanding issues."

The authority apologised for the fiasco in a statement issued yesterday, which said: "The results processing for this year has been a very challenging task. This is the first year of results for the new National Qualifications and we did our utmost to be ready. However, we have encountered data management problems."

All certificates have now been dispatched and the body was working on the incomplete results certificates it said. They promised that no candidate for further education would be disadvantaged or fail to meet the 31 August deadline for completion of applications.

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