Socialist Worker

Galbraith must go

Issue No. 1711

'HOW CAN he sit there smugly and say it is not his fault?' That was the response of 15 year old Fiona White from Dundee to news that the minister responsible for the exam fiasco in Scotland, Sam Galbraith, has no intention of resigning.

The meltdown of the Scottish exam system has left tens of thousands of school students worrying whether they will get a university place or a job. Sam Galbraith is to blame.

He decided to press ahead with the new Higher Still school leaving exam. He ignored warnings from teachers that there were not enough resources and time to introduce it properly.

Galbraith and the body which administers exams, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, did not provide enough markers or give them enough training. It also cut the amount of time they had to get through a record number of exam scripts and effectively halved their pay.

So students have received inaccurate marks or no result at all. 'We are told to work hard to improve our chances,' says school student Helen McLeish. 'Then this happens and we are left with even more stress than when we sat the exams.'

Bob Fotheringham, a secondary school teacher at Glasgow's Bellahouston Academy, told Socialist Worker, 'The crisis is deeper than just over the new Higher Still exam. It has spread to the Standard grade, equivalent to GCSE's in England and Wales. The exam board has lost portfolios of work from graphic design students. It has marked them down and blamed the school even though I have an acknowledgement from them that they received the work. There is a growing feeling among teachers, parents and students that Galbraith should go.'

But Galbraith is a close ally of Scottish First Minister Donald Dewar, who is pulling out the stops to defend him. Activists in Scotland's main teaching union, the EIS, have mailed local union branches with a petition calling for Galbraith to go.

Parents and school students should join their campaign.

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Article information

Sat 26 Aug 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1711
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