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Qualifications And Curriculum Authority

Volume 405: debated on Thursday 22 May 2003

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What plans he has to improve his Department's monitoring of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. [115004]

Ministers and officials hold regular meetings with the QCA. It is currently focused on the smooth delivery of this year's tests and exams, but a new memorandum of understanding between the Department and the QCA will be published shortly.

Does the Minister recall that this time last year Werneth high school in my constituency was one of 500 schools that did not receive their English and maths key stage 3 exam papers until two days after the exams? Does he recall that it took four months for the QCA to admit to the schools that it had provided an unacceptable level of service? Is he satisfied that this year he has a tight enough grip on the QCA to avoid a repetition of the stress and the pressure on schools and children that that failure caused?

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman has left us in terrible suspense about whether the exam papers have arrived for this year. Such confirmation would be rather more comforting proof than would fine words from me that the system is working better. I have had no reports that Werneth high school has been suffering problems this year.