Madras examinations art work up in smoke

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ART work submitted by pupils of Madras College, St Andrews, for examinations earlier this year has been destroyed after the secondary school missed a deadline for its return.

It has emerged that Madras was three days late in requesting the pupils’ work to be sent back by the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

However, rector Ian Jones is unhappy at the loss of the pupils’ work and has written to the SQA seeking an explanation from the national accreditation and awarding body in Scotland.

Letters were sent to parents of the students pointing out that the school had been unable to secure the return of their work.

It stated that, despite being given assurances that its request was “being processed,” the school authorities had since been told that no materials were going to be returned and that all the pupils’ work had been destroyed.

Mr Jones told the Citizen: ”We realised that our request to have the work returned from the SQA was three days late and we called them to discuss the situation, and even offered to collect the work ourselves if necessary.

“The SQA assured us that the work would be returned, so we were extremely disappointed to discover that they had, after all, destroyed the work.

‘‘I have written to them formally requesting an explanation.

“Art work was submitted to the SQA on behalf of 34 pupils. While we recognise that this work would not be best suited as folio pieces for further education, we will provide a letter of reference explaining what has happened to any student who needs it.”

An SQA spokesman said: ”The deadline for return of art materials was September 30 and this was widely publicised, with reminders sent to all schools and colleges presenting candidates for national qualifications.

“The deadline was particularly pressing this year as we were in the process of moving from our offices in Dalkeith where the materials are stored.

“If we don’t receive a request that art work should be returned then the standard practice is that it is destroyed. Owing to the scale of material processed each year - over 50,000 pieces and folios - it would be impossible to do otherwise.

“Our internal inquiry confirms that, unfortunately, the Madras College request was received after this date and, regretfully, the candidates’ artwork has been destroyed.

“The school appears to have been under the impression that in spite of their late request for return of art work, that would be accommodated. However, we have no record of such an assurance having been given. This is particularly unfortunate, and especially so for the candidates and families involved.

“If we are contacted by an art college then we will, of course, let them know that the candidates’ work has been routinely disposed of.”