WATCHDOGS at the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) are stepping in to work with Scotland’s exams body in a bid to ensure it improves its practices.

The move resulted in calls for the chief executive of the Scottish Qualifications Authority to quit, with opposition politicians insisting that Fiona Robertson’s position is “untenable”.

It comes after the EHRC established that the SQA – which the Scottish Government has already announced plans to scrap – was not routinely assessing the impact of its policies and practices in the way it should under the public sector equality duty.

Under this duty, public bodies are meant to give “due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between different groups”.

The SQA has now signed an agreement with the EHRC which will require the exams and qualifications body to complete outstanding equality impact assessments for its existing policies and practices. It has also agreed it will improve its approach when carrying out assessments for any new policies it develops.

The EHRC will now monitor the work of the SQA for the next two years.

SQA’s director of finance and corporate services Mike Baxter said: “We will be taking this opportunity to work with the commission to further embed equality into our policies and processes across SQA’s activities.

“Over the next two years we will be delivering our agreed action plan across a range of work streams. We are fully committed to ensuring equality and fairness are at the heart of all we do.”

Meanwhile, a consultation has been launched on the proposed reform of education, which will include the scrapping of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville announced in June that the exam body would be wound down and replaced, with inspection powers also set to be removed from Education Scotland.