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SQA Exams Fiasco
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SQA Exams Fiasco

In 2000, the new Higher Grade examination system in Scotland, through a mixture of incompetence and genuine bad luck, ground to a complete halt resulting in administrative chaos and misery for thousands of students.


26th June 2000 The Scottish Qualifications Authority announces 'teething problems' with the marking system, but promises that students will receive their results on time.

9th August 2000 SQA publicly admits that pupils sitting Higher Grade examinations may not receive the correct results.

10th August 2000 Thousands of students across Scotland receive incomplete or inaccurate exam results. Schools are left in disarray as many have not been sent any results at all- accurate or otherwise.

12th August 2000 Ron Tuck, the Chief Executive of the Scottish Qualifications Authority, resigns, stating his regret and accepting responsibility for "this unfortunate episode".

The Scottish Executive ignores SNP demands for Sam Galbraith, the Education Minister, to resign.

13th August 2000 Over 100,000 exam results have to be re-marked. The SQA and Scottish Executive claim that the errors are due to the correct results being lost, not exams being marked wrongly in the first place.

14th August 2000 Bill Morton is appointed as acting Chief Executive, to replace Ron Tuck, who resigned in disgrace over the scandal.

15th August 2000 At least 5,000 results are now known to be inaccurate. Students are assured that their marks will not go down. However this leaves a problem for UCAS, who has no way of knowing if students with high grades actually earned them or not.

18th August 2000 UCAS admits in a statement that many of the students whose exam results contained errors will lose out on a university place that they would have received had the results been accurate and on time.

20th August 2000 The Scottish Qualifications Authority claims that over 2,000 students with inaccurate exam results will receive the correct ones the next day, and the rest will be fixed 'in a matter of days'

21st August 2000 In another embarrassing failure for the SQA, not a single exam certificate is delivered to affected students.

22nd August 2000 Now realising that the 21st August was not a realistic deadline, the SQA vow to sort out the worst affected pupils' results by 20th September 2000

27th August 2000 The SQA finally sorts out Higher Grade exam results

28th August 2000 Bill Morton orders an internal investigation at the SQA.

29th August 2000 Over 4,000 Standard Grade students are discovered to have received incorrect exam results.

29th October 2000 Jack McConnell, nicknamed 'Jack the Knife', becomes the new Education Minister. Sam Galbraith is demoted to Environment Minister.

31st October 2000 A leak reveals that the SQA failed to sort out non-urgent Higher Grade exam results within the planned deadline — and the new Chief Executive was not told.

9th November 2000 Jack McConnell appoints a new SQA board. 16 of the 24 members have been replaced.

25th November 2000 The SQA begins sending out accurate exam certificates to students — a full three months after they were supposed to be delivered

10th August 2001 Media reports suggest that the exam results disaster cost the people of Scotland over 11 million.