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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Angus & The Mearns

Carnoustie girl says pupils were left ‘baffled and distraught’ by Higher history questions

August 21 2014

One of the pupils who sat the under-review Higher history exam at Carnoustie High School has said she and her classmates were left “baffled and distraught” at being confronted with a topic they had not been taught. The girl posted her feelings on a community Facebook page. She claimed that her class had been taught about Germany in the 20th century and found themselves facing questions relating to the previous century. “It was all pre-war about German unification and the German princes,” she wrote. “We were not taught that part of the course and we’re completely baffled and distraught at this outcome. “Considering the already looming pressure of the exam, you can only imagine the state of mind we all took.” She said anyone in doubt about the difficulty of the questions they faced should look at the exam paper, which is available from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). Of the 19 pupils who sat the exam, 11 failed. Angus Council is investigating what happened and if anyone at the school was at fault. The Courier understands that parents of the pupils have met to discuss the situation and are awaiting the outcome of the inquiry, which is expected next week. The council confirmed on Monday that it was looking into the exam results and it has declined to make any further statement about its investigation while it is under way. A spokeswoman said: “Other than the previously reported investigation relating to the Higher history exam at Carnoustie High School, no other investigations about exam results are taking place. “No other complaints have been received and we are satisfied this has been an isolated incident. If any young person or parent wishes to discuss their exam results, they should contact their school.” There has been a claim from the mother of a pupil at Monifieth High School that pupils taking the National 5 maths exam also found themselves facing subjects for which they were not prepared. She said: “It seems that in most subjects questions were asked in exams that had not been covered. This is not the teachers’ fault or the schools’ but the SQA system it is failing these children big time. “Maths is my daughter’s weakest subject and I would not have expected her to pass Nat 5 however there are a number of children who have had tutors for the last year who have also failed.” A spokesman for the SQA said: “The National 5 maths paper for 2014 sampled across the published mandatory knowledge and skills of the course and was similar in standard to the published specimen question paper.”


MSPs told ‘divine intervention’ is needed on exams

May 28 2015

Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to make a "divine intervention" after pupils were said to have been left in tears after an "unfair" Higher maths exam. Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour deputy leader, called on the First Minister to act and also demanded the SNP leader "fix the unfair and unjust" exam appeals system. She pressed Ms Sturgeon on the issue after more than 13,000 people signed two online petitions urging the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to take the difficulty level of the maths exam into account when marking. Ms Dugdale recalled that the First Minister had written an article on the importance of Scotland's education system for a newspaper just days ago, in which she described education as a "sacred responsibility". The Labour MSP said: "The appeals system and the new exams need sorted out. "She said education is her sacred responsibility, it's time for some divine intervention from this First Minister." But Ms Sturgeon accused Ms Dugdale of scaremongering. As she was heckled by Labour MSPs during First Minister's Questions, the SNP leader said: "I don't think Labour members who are shouting abuse across the chamber right now are remotely interested in the fortunes of young people. "As always the top priority of Labour members is simply to hurl abuse of the SNP: that will not be lost on anyone." The First Minister insisted: "No young person sitting the higher maths exam will be disadvantaged if it is found out the exam is more difficult than was intended. "How can we say that with confidence? Because the SQA has the process in place every single year to moderate results, to take account of the fact an exam might be found to be easier or harder than was intended." Ms Dugdale had told Ms Sturgeon that schoolgirl Chloe Thomson, from Hawick in the Borders, said her "dream" of studying medicine at university "now seems completely out of reach due to the awful maths exam I endured". Ms Sturgeon said: "I have huge sympathy for anybody who sits an exam and comes out of it feeling like that. "Surely Kezia Dugdale's responsibility is to relay back to that young person the assurance and reassurances the SQA has given and I have outlined in this chamber. "Let me repeat it - no young person sitting the higher maths exam will be disadvantaged if it is found out the exam is more difficult than was intended." She added: "Instead of trying to play up those fears, surely Kezia Dugdale's responsibility is to join us in reassuring that young person."

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km


Triplets celebrate straight A Higher results

August 10 2016

A trio of Dundee triplets are celebrating a hat trick of As in their exams. Broughty Ferry 16-year-olds Alexandra, Gregor and Kristin Vagg bagged an amazing total of 16 Higher grade A passes, six for Kristin and five apiece for her siblings. Mum Nicola explained the fantastic news came through just as the triplets were setting off for Edinburgh where Gregor is doing work experience. “They were just leaving when all the phones went off. “There were tears and relief, and some nonchalance but we are very chuffed,” she said. Nicola and dad Mike are very proud of the straight A trio who are all in fifth year at the High School of Dundee. The Rector Dr John Halliday, said: “To have 16 Higher A grades within one household is highly unusual to say the least, and Gregor, Kristin and Alexandra should be extremely proud of their efforts.” Nicola said the family had hoped for but never expected the fine results. “They worked really hard so today was really lovely.” And there is only mild sibling rivalry about Kristin’s extra Higher pass. “The other two just laugh and say that one was just a hobby for her.”


‘No learner will be disadvantaged’ SQA urges pupils to stay calm after Higher Maths complaints

May 22 2015

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has moved to reassure shell-shocked pupils who have complained that this year’s Higher Maths exams were too difficult. Almost 15,000 pupils have signed two online petitions urging the SQA to take into account the exam’s difficulty when marking it in the coming days and weeks. The SQA says “no learner will be disadvantaged” if results suggest the exam was “more demanding than intended”. Some pupils reportedly ran out of Wednesday’s exam in tears, while others struggled to finish the papers on time. The pupils have claimed that the paper bore little relation to specimen tests they in the weeks leading up to the exam.Was the exam fair or unfair? Give us your opinion at online@thecourier.co.ukThere have also been claims that some pupils have had their confidence knocked and could suffer in their other exams as a result. #highermaths Tweets Urging calm, a spokesman for the SQA said: “We are aware of the concerns raised by young people and their parents in these petitions and want to assure them that the question papers for the current and new Higher maths exams on Wednesday were developed and quality assured, using the same design principles and assessment specifications as the relevant Higher Maths Specimen Question Paper, under the supervision of the same senior appointee. “All of these materials follow the relevant Higher maths course assessment specifications, which state the standard, structure and requirements of the assessments. “As part of our post examination procedures, the pass mark and the cut-off score for each grade are determined after detailed consideration of quantitative and qualitative information. “In addition, the difficulty of the question paper compared to previous years’ papers is taken into account. “Please be assured that no learner will be disadvantaged should it be deemed that the current and/or new Higher Maths Question Papers were more demanding than intended.” The spokesman added: "As is the case every year, we do not set the pass mark or the number of marks required for each grade until the marking process is complete, later in the summer. "This procedure ensures that we have the necessary statistical information on how the exam performed and whether it was harder than intended. Only then will we set the marks required for each grade. "We would therefore expect someone who got an A, B or C grade last year to receive the same result this year.These rigorous processes are in place to ensure that no-one will be disadvantaged." For more on this story, see Saturday’s Courier or try our digital edition.


Call for clarity over exam appeal charges

February 11 2014

Cash-strapped schools will be forced to pay for some pupils’ exam appeals under a new system of charges introduced this year, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has confirmed. The Courier revealed last week that there is confusion among parents, teachers and councils over who will pick up the tab for “Post-Results Services”. The new scheme offers a £10 Clerical Check, a Marking Review costing £29.75, or a Priority Marking Review priced £39.75. If the grade is changed or if pupils provide medical certificates proving that there is “exceptional circumstances” there will be no charge, however schools could still receive bills running to thousands of pounds. In 2012 more than 20,000 unsuccessful appeals were submitted on behalf of S3 and S4 pupils, who are currently preparing to sit the new National 5 exams. If every paper was remarked under the new Post-Results Services system the cost to Scottish schools would total more than half a million pounds. “If unsuccessful Higher appeals are included, the figure is upwards of £800,000. Teachers’ union the NASUWT, parent organisation the SPTC and several teachers raised concern that the scheme could discourage schools from submitting exam papers for review. The SQA moved to quell fears, insisting Post-Results Services is “grounded in the principle of fairness”. Eric Martinez, SQA’s director of operations, told The Courier: “SQA has introduced two new services which replace the former absentee consideration and exam appeals system Exceptional Circumstances Consideration Service, which ensures that those candidates who have suffered genuinely exceptional circumstances, such as a bereavement or illness during exams are not disadvantaged, and Post-Results Services, which provides a safety net check of final exam results. “There will be no cost to schools or colleges who submit an Exceptional Circumstances application on behalf of candidates. Post-Results Services will only incur a cost when there is no change to the candidate’s final grade following a marking review and/or clerical check. “Those costs will be charged to the school or college. If a candidate’s grade increases or decreases, there will be no charge.” Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith has written to SQA chief executive Dr Janet Brown to demand that schools are given “clear instructions” about the new system. The Mid Scotland and Fife MSP said: “I am very surprised indeed to hear that there is not more clarity over this matterthe new charges could, in some cases, result in a disincentive to appeal.” Mr Martinez said: “SQA will continue to share information with teachers, lecturers, local authorities, parents and candidates on the introduction of Results Services.”

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.