SQA responds to evidence given to Education, Children and Young People Committee on education reform

Wednesday 23 March 2022

Responding to the evidence given to the Education, Children and Young People Committee by Professors Ken Muir and Graham Donaldson, SQA Chair David Middleton said:

'SQA engaged positively and in good faith with Professor Muir throughout his review, and so we were surprised and disappointed by the evidence given to the Education Committee, which contained a number of misrepresentations and inaccuracies.

'Firstly, the significant amount of information provided by SQA to the review team was done at their request and with their agreement, to help them understand the breadth and complexity of SQA’s work. Secondly, National Qualifications aligned to Curriculum for Excellence were developed by SQA but the removal of Unit Assessments by the Scottish Government in 2016 resulted in a greater emphasis on exams and less continuous assessment.

'Thirdly, and contrary to the evidence given, SQA's work draws on expert advice from the teaching profession. Each year we work with 15,000 appointees who are practising teachers and lecturers, and our independent Advisory Council also includes a number of people working in schools and colleges. Many SQA staff are also former teachers. We also work with a wider range of partners, notably through the National Qualifications Group that has been led through the challenges of the pandemic in 2021 and 2022 by SQA’s Chief Executive.

'We agree with Professor Muir that education reform is needed, with learners at the centre. 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.'