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Mike Russell faces quiz over quitting exam chief

Education Secretary Mike Russell. Picture: Robert Perry

Education Secretary Mike Russell. Picture: Robert Perry

EDUCATION Secretary Mike Russell will face questions over the resignation of a key architect of controversial new exams just weeks before they are due to take place.

Roderick Gillespie, who led one of eight teams delivering the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) exams, has handed in his 12 weeks’ notice at the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

The SQA say they will be working with Mr Gillespie to ensure “a smooth handover”, with the first exams scheduled for April 29.

‘Warnings brushed aside’

But the timing has sparked questions in Holyrood, with Education Secretary Mike Russell due to be quizzed on the matter by Labour education spokeswoman Kezia Dugdale tomorrow.

Ms Dugdale said: “This revelation will come as a shock to Scotland’s teachers and parents.

“Scottish Labour has been warning for months that Curriculum for Excellence has been without effective leadership.

“Teachers and headteachers have been warning that it has been rushed, botched and lacking resources. All those concerns and warnings have been brushed aside by Mike Russell, whose arrogance has only grown as criticisms mount.

“To now discover that the main architect of the exams is clearing off before they are sat, marked and reviewed only adds to the sense that this whole episode has been shambolic.

“This is too serious to be taken lightly. The academic future of thousands of Scottish children is at stake.

“Rather than remain silent, Mike Russell must come to Parliament and explain what is happening in the SQA and why, as these exams near, the concerns about their implementation continue to grow.

“It’s time for Mike Russell to dial down the arrogance and finally get a grip on his own reforms.”

‘Gillespie part of a team’

An SQA spokesman said: “The new qualifications have been developed by eight experienced teams within SQA’s qualifications directorate, one of which was led by Roddy Gillespie.

“Roddy has built a strong team which will continue to work as part of that extensive directorate group to develop and deliver the new Curriculum for Excellence qualifications, and we will be working with him over the course of his 12-week notice period to ensure a smooth handover.

“It is flattering to see that other organisations recognise the skills and expertise of our people, and are looking to learn from what we are achieving. We wish Roddy well in his new role.”

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