Scottish exams fiasco deepens as results rechecked

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The Independent Online

Scotland's exam results crisis deepened yesterday when it emerged more than 4,000 Standard Grade results are to be rechecked after mistakes were found.

Scotland's exam results crisis deepened yesterday when it emerged more than 4,000 Standard Grade results are to be rechecked after mistakes were found.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority said it would have the "vast majority" of errors corrected within the next seven days, after carrying out a preliminary check on all 60,000 pupils who sat Standard Grades - the equivalent of a GCSE in England and Wales - this summer.

The authority decided to check the results of all 147,000 examination candidates after "data handling errors" were blamed for omissions and inaccuracies in the grades sent to students.

The authority came under fire for errors and delays in the results from Highers - Scotland's equivalent of A-levels - earlier this month. Bill Morton, its interim chief executive, said results for 4,264 Standard Grade students would be rechecked. "As we anticipated last week, the same issues - missing information or inaccurate data - have also affected Standard Grades.

"The organisation has taken full responsibility for its difficulties and it is clear that the shock and responsibility felt by everyone here is now being channelled into determination to resolve these outstanding problems."

Mr Morton launched an intensive internal review of the authority under his own supervision to ensure there was no repeat of this summer's fiasco. About 5,000 students who sat Higher and Certificate of Sixth Year Studies had to wait for up to two-and-a-half weeks for their results to be corrected after the authority found they were wrong or incomplete.

The review will be carried out by a panel including representatives of the authority board, trade unions, an internal auditor and a Scottish Executive observer.

Exam chiefs completed the task of compiling the missing Higher and Certificate of Sixth Year Studies results last weekend and passed them on to the university admissions service, Ucas, to enable students to apply for university places.

Ucas has warned that some students were bound to miss out on places for the most popular courses as a result of the delay in receiving their results, which forced them to wait before going into the clearing system.

Scottish Conservatives stepped up their calls for the Minister for Children and Education, Sam Galbraith, to resign in the wake of the revelation that more than 4,000 Standard Grade candidates had been affected.

The Tory education spokesman, Brian Monteith, said: "Surely this must be the final straw for Sam Galbraith as Education Minister. How many more blunders can he preside over before he does Scottish education a favour and falls on his sword?"

The authority's chairman, David Miller, said in an interview with Scotland Today that he believed the inquiry would lead to disciplinary action and possible sackings.

"An inquiry is very likely to demonstrate that there are a lot of fingers that can be pointed at people," he said. "They will be disciplined in some way subject to the disciplinary code. They might well be fired.

"Although we have made errors, the dedication of the ordinary staff in trying to fix this problem has been, in my industrial experience, absolutely unique."