AS A former teacher, it came as no surprise to learn that the Scottish Qualifications Authority was exposed by think-tank Reform Scotland as an unaccountable, free-spending quango (your report, 22 December).
Scottish ministers of education have given it free rein on the grounds of respecting its independence. Such political non-interference bred a culture of complacency, which contributed to the shambles of August 2000. Hundreds of candidates were deprived of accurate certification to the detriment of their career or further education.
When the Standard Grade exams were introduced, I telephoned the SQA’s predecessor (the Scottish Examination Board) to ask for clarification on how schools should internally assess chemistry practicals.
An official to whom I spoke showed scant understanding of the procedures he was employed to administer. I recall his bored dismissive tone. He went on to hold a senior position in the SQA and, presumably after his part in the results debacle, left the organisation “by mutual consent”.
The present chief executive of the SQA was formerly employed by another profligate quango, Scottish Enterprise. She has incurred expenses travelling to China, a venture of highly questionable value to Scottish examination candidates and has accepted bonuses in defiance of finance minister John Swinney’s request for restraint. To paraphrase a catch-phrase: “Is she, or her kind, bovvered?”
Your leader article asked why MSPs have failed to produce the kind of report that Reform Scotland has. Perhaps they wish to preserve a comfortable source of income when they leave Holyrood.
According to Reform Scotland, Scottish quangos have spent £113 million on consultancy fees, PR and travel and this brings into question what authorisation is in place to ensure that taxpayers’ money is being wisely spent.
There is little point in the SNP whining about lack of funds from Westminster when the quangos allegedly under its control such as Scottish Water, SQA, VisitScotland and the health boards are spending taxpayers’ money faster than it can be printed.