Connecting With SQA - SQA's Monthly E-zine.

Wednesday 18 April 2007
Issue 16

Shocking Science

PHOTO: Electrifying Science at the Moray Science Festival
Moray College, University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), held its hugely successful annual Science Festival recently, to great acclaim. The festival, which we co-sponsor, now in its 14th year, was well attended throughout the week by regional primary and secondary school students. On the Saturday Family Day around 2,000 people came along to the workshops, which allowed students and parents to try their hand at various experiments ranging from building and exploding a volcano, finding out why chocolate makes your mouth feel cool, mirror writing just like Leonardo Da Vinci, finding out how a TV works to an outline of the basics of lizard genetics amongst many other hands-on practical workshops.

The photograph here shows students participating in a demo at the 'Arcs and Sparks' workshop, exploring the physics of electricity, provided by  Glasgow University's Department of Physics and Astronomy.

'Judging by the whoops and yells of delight echoing down corridors, the Families Day of the 14th Moray College Science Festival was an enormous success,' said Moira Currie, Moray Science Festival Director. 'The parents who came along enjoyed themselves just as much as their children', she added.

Find out more about the day.

Herald Exam Guides Online

IMAGE: Sunday Herald Exam Guide coverThe Sunday Herald recently produced and published a series of Exam Guides, now available to download on our website, to give Higher students specific help and advice on twelve popular subjects and general advice on exam techniques.

The subjects covered are:

  • Art and Design
  • Biology
  • Business Management
  • Chemistry
  • Computing
  • English
  • Geography
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Modern Studies
  • Physical Education
  • Physics


Access the exam guides.

Results Online goes live in South Ayrshire

PHOTO: Marr College student Kenzie Sharkey registering for Results Online
Results Online, which provides candidates with secure internet access to their SQA record, is currently being rolled out in schools all across Scotland. The service will enable candidates to check their data, access their results and sign up to receive August 2007 exam results by text message.

Candidates opting to use Results Online will be able to view their results a day early on Monday 6 August 2007.

The service will be rolled out to all SQA candidates and other centres will be contacted from May 2007.

One of the first schools to adopt Results Online is South Ayrshire’s Marr College in Troon. As the feedback from one candidate, Kenzie Sharkey and the school’s Depute Head Teacher demonstrates, adopting the service is very straightforward.

Candidate Experience
Kenzie is one of Marr College's Vice Captains and is currently studying towards her Advanced Highers. She has already logged on and registered for Results Online and found the process very straightforward.

Depute Head Teacher Experience
Marr College’s Depute Head Teacher, Liz Campbell, distributed all the envelopes to candidates in the upper school at recent assemblies. Each candidate signed for receipt of their envelope. She also explained the registration process in detail and used a PowerPoint presentation provided by Jacqui Murray, SQA’s Results Online Manager. The biggest 'hook' to get candidates to sign up was the option to receive their results by text message as whilst most candidates have mobile phones not all have internet access at home. Liz intends to periodically remind candidates to sign up for this service during the coming weeks leading up to the cut off date for registration, Saturday 30 June 2007.

Find out more.

Customer Conference 2007

LOGO: Connecting with SQA Conference logo

The programme for our second Customer Conference, Connecting with SQA, is now available. The conference takes place at the Radisson Hotel in Glasgow on 14 and 15 June 2007.  You can attend on either day, giving you the opportunity to attend on a day that best suits you.

We are committed to supporting and listening to our customers and have developed the programme to update you on key areas of importance to you. The Conference will provide an excellent opportunity for you to hear about many exciting and new initiatives from SQA. It will also give you the opportunity to meet our staff and give feedback on a wide range of issues. An exhibition area will showcase our products and services.

The Conference is free of charge but places at seminars and demonstrations are limited. Please reserve your place as quickly as possible to avoid disappointment and to ensure you get the day and timeslots that best suit you.

We have made booking places simple and easy, just call the Conference Hotline on 0845 270 0123 and our customer advisors will be happy to assist.

Have a browse of the programme online today and book your place on any of the workshops and seminars that take your interest.

Access the programme.

Proposed Core Skills Framework is now ready for comment on SQA Academy!

LOGO: Core Skills logoAs you may know the Core Skills Framework is currently undergoing a refresh.

An important part of this refresh is the feedback that we receive from stakeholders.  It is important that the Framework is as good as it can be, to ensure that it provides a sound foundation for the qualifications that will be created from it.

With this is mind, we have started our stakeholder engagement process, holding two national engagement events in Glasgow and Edinburgh and also by creating online engagement through our SQA Academy web-space.

The SQA Academy web-space will allow stakeholders the opportunity to view the refreshed Framework and the rationale behind the changes, enter into discussion around the changes and answer a questionnaire.

What do you have to do next?

To get involved with this online engagement process, please e-mail and instructions on how to access the SQA Academy web-space will be sent by return.

We really encourage all stakeholders to participate in this very important process and we look forward to hearing from you soon!

Assessment 2.0

There's been a lot of buzz around 'Web 2.0' - the 'second version' of the World Wide Web - and we have been exploring the potential of Web 2.0 for student assessment. Web services such as Flickr, Blogger and Wikipedia have great potential as sources of candidate evidence and Futurelab recently published a paper entitled 'Assessment 2.0', which describes our findings.

Access the findings.

searching for stars......

LOGO: SQA star awards 2007As we reported last month, we have unveiled our new look annual awards for 2007 - the star awards......recognising the success, triumph, achievement and recognition of the best in Scottish education and training.

Details of award categories, guidance on nominating, the awards timetable and nomination forms are now available exclusively on our website. We will be sending out a full star awards information pack and nomination forms to all our centres in the next few weeks.

If you want to beat the rush - get in early - nominate your stars online, today.............

Nominate today.

Customised Awards

We have a group of qualifications classified as Customised Awards. The Customised Awards service is a commercial activity, where the cost of the award development, certification, and quality assurance is fully covered by the customer.

Customised Awards are competence-based vocational qualifications developed to meet the skills requirements of an individual company or organisation.

They are aimed at customers whose qualification requirements are in an area where there is no suitable mainstream provision. This can be because mainstream alternatives are too generic, candidate numbers may be low, or they are particularly seeking exclusivity through award ownership. 

Customised Awards are flexible in design and level to enable them to meet the requirements of individual customers, and can be levelled on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF).

The structure of a Customised Award is similar to our mainstream provision. However, they can comprise of existing national units (NQ and HN), units from National Occupational Standards, or customised units.

These awards are subject to our mainstream quality assurance procedures and criteria, and must be delivered through one of our approved centres.

The Customised Awards certification package is the same as our mainstream provision, with the exception of the commemorative certificate where in addition to our logo there is room for our partner’s logo.  There is also the option of adding a ‘Recognition Statement’ which details professional endorsement or recognition.

If you have any queries regarding Customised Awards, then please contact Hamish Brad (tele: 0845 213 5425).

Find out more.

Curriculum for Excellence @ SQA Academy

As we reported in the December edition of the e-zine, an extensive pre-consultation programme of work is ongoing in preparation for the introduction of Curriculum for Excellence. There are five strands of work in the programme:

  • development of a revised curriculum
  • consideration of improvement to current performance measures
  • planning for CPD needs
  • review of arrangements for qualifications and assessment, including recognition of wider achievement
  • consideration of needs of those at risk of falling into the NEET group

The four partner national organisations (Scottish Executive, Learning and Teaching Scotland, HMIe and SQA) are all involved in each strand. Each strand also has a lead organisation, we are leading work on qualifications and assessment and we have been asked by the Scottish Executive to undertake research and engage with stakeholders in schools, FE colleges and partner and support organisations, in preparation for formal consultation on options for change (led by the Executive), currently planned to take place around summer, 2007.

It is clear that the scope and nature of qualifications and assessment must be consistent with the values, purposes and principles of Curriculum for Excellence. The focus of current pre-consultation exploratory work is on addressing the use of Standard Grade and Intermediate Qualifications (at SCQF levels 4 and 5) - Ministers intend to retain Access, Higher and Advanced Higher as points of stability within the system.

A number of options for further consideration will be identified by the summer – these options will draw on the strengths of existing qualifications at SCQF levels 4 and 5. At this stage nothing has been ruled in or out.

If you would like to join the debate through our electronic forum or simply read background papers and view workshop and other support materials, we are delighted to invite you to join our Curriculum for Excellence online community at the SQA Academy. We look forward to receiving your feedback.

To join:

  • Open your web browser and navigate to
  • Create a new account using the 'Create new account' link, in the Login box at the right of the page
  • An email will be sent to confirm your account, click the link contained in the email
  • Login to the SQA Academy
  • Click the 'Courses' link. Then click the 'National Qualifications for the Future' link, in the 'Consultations' category
  • You will be asked for an enrolment key. The key is “Excellence” (case sensitive, without quotes)
  • You have now completed the registration process and will be able to use the SQA Academy webspace – National Qualifications for the Future 

DIVA - connecting industry and education

LOGO: Diva logo
We have secured agreement with four of the world's best known technology companies to collaborate on new digital and ICT curriculum and qualifications for schools and colleges in Scotland.

Autodesk, ComputerPREP, IBM and Serif have joined global technology leaders Adobe, Apple, Avid, Cisco, Microsoft and Oracle, together with the computing industry trade association CompTIA, in participating in our ground breaking collaborative programme called the Digital Media and ICT Vendor Alliance (DIVA).

The DIVA industry partners will be attending our Computing and IT Showcase Event at Hampden Park, Glasgow, on 22 June. 

Access latest news and case studies.

Online business game

IMAGE: Football Store Business Game
A new, free enterprise resource will be available to all of Scotland's schools this month and takes the form of an internet business game that gives pupils and teachers the opportunity to run a football store. This game has been developed in collaboration with Scottish teachers with inputs from Rangers and Hearts, and is based on a successful pilot involving 18 schools and 1,200 pupils ranging across S1-S5. Teachers have had the opportunity to include the game in lessons in Business Education, Maths/ICT, English, PE and PSE, supported by resources such as lesson plans and pupil worksheets and notes.
You are invited to attend a road show in the week of 23 April to hear about the game, meet with the teachers who have been using it, discover the experiences of pupils and learn about wider SPL involvement.  There will be ten events across the country - please book a place on one near you today. Please also pass this invitation to the enterprise co-ordinator in your school and other relevant colleagues.

Register Today.

Replacement Certificates

Requesting a Replacement Certificate has just been made easier with the introduction of a new service on our website. Our e-Shop is a new 24/7 online secure shopping service, which allows you to order and pay for replacement certificates at a cost of £25.50 each.

All you need to tell us is your name, the school or college you attended and when and the types of qualifications you attained. The service covers SQA, SCOTVEC, SEB, SCOTBEC, SCOTEC, SANCAD and SCCAPE certificates. Once the order is placed, you will receive a confirmation e-mail, including an Order Reference Number, which should be quoted if you have any queries. The certificate will then be posted out to you.

Find out more.

Advisory Council and Qualifications Committee visit Dumfries

PHOTO: Members of SQA's Advisory Council and Qualifications Committee, at their recent visit to DumfiresOur Advisory Council and Qualifications Committee have been in Dumfries to hear the views and issues of local education and business leaders.

The Advisory Council and Qualifications Committee each play a key role in the future developments of the national examination body.  To help do this, they undertake formal visits across the country to bring them closer to the hundreds of thousands of learners, families, businesses, schools and colleges who use Scotland's qualifications.

Last week, the programme brought them to an event on the Crichton Campus where they met with a number of local organisations, including Lockerbie Academy, Dumfries and Galloway College, Crichton Development Company, R&D Construction and Southwest Business Services, to hear their views.

SQA Board member Linda McKay is Convenor of the Advisory Council and Chair of the Qualifications Committee.  She commented  'these visits are very valuable.  They help us understand the views of our customers and users and this helps us shape the way forward with our services.  The topic of this event was online learning and assessment.  We gained real insight into the practical issues through presentations from D&G College and schools in the region. These discussions help to shape our work with local and national partners to ensure our strategy and plans for e-activity meet centres' and learners' needs.'

Child Protection

In recognition of the important role that we can play in safeguarding the welfare of our candidates, we have been working with external stakeholders to establish a policy and associated procedures for Child Protection. The procedures outline the processes to be adopted if:

  • concerns about a candidate's welfare are raised with a member of our staff and/or one of our appointees
  • a complaint related to Child Protection is raised against a member of our staff and/or one of our appointees

There are also procedures to ensure that our materials and assessments are appropriate in terms of text and language etc and that the overall Child Protection Policy and Procedures are annually reviewed.

We are currently finalising the policy but procedures are now operational and a Child Protection Officer, Rhona Wright, has been appointed to oversee these procedures. Please contact Rhona immediately on 0131 561 6853 should a Child Protection issue relating to any of the above arise within your centre.

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Launch Events


During May 2007 we will be hosting three Launch Events for Units from Access 2 (Including Beginners’ English Literacies) to Intermediate 1 level in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). The units have all been written to create a framework leading to the two Courses launched last year.

These events aim to update key teaching staff on aspects of new Units due to be introduced next session. In addition, the events will focus on explaining the complete framework and demonstrating the accompanying classroom support materials which were commissioned and e-enabled.

Events will be held on the following dates:

  • 22 May 2007 - Inverness
  • 28 May 2007 - Edinburgh
  • 30 May 2007 - Glasgow

Invitation letters and booking details have been sent to all our centres but can also be found on the ESOL pages of our website.

Book your place today.

Scottish Offshore Achievement Awards

PHOTO: Mike McCulloch from Petrofac receiving the award from Lord Truscott, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Energy
The Scottish Offshore Achievement Awards, held in mid-March in Aberdeen, are an annual competition to showcase excellence in the oil and gas industry. They are designed to pay tribute to companies in the energy industry in recognition of their collective and individual world class achievements.

We sponsored the 'Internationalisation of Scottish Skills' award, which recognises those that have effectively taken Scottish skills and qualifications and applied them abroad in order to increase business in a new market. This year, the award was won by Petrofac, the international service provider to the oil and gas industry. Petrofac has successfully exported its Aberdeen-based competence assurance and training development programmes and also the skills, qualifications and competence of its staff to destinations as far afield as the UAE, Azerbaijan, Sudan and China.

Find out more.

Guide to Assessment Support Packs

Assessment Support Packs (ASPs) are a new breed of support material for the assessment of Units which form part of NQ Group Awards (National Certificates and National Progression Awards).

The packs are produced by the National Assessment Bank (NAB) Team, Assessment Materials and Publishing in Dalkeith and include the following sections:

  • Introduction
  • How to generate evidence
  • Instruments of Assessment
  • Guidance for making an assessment decision
  • Assessment record sheets

Unlike NABs, additional packs are not generally produced for reassessment purposes.  However an ASP may include within it an alternative set of questions where the assessment is in the form of a test.  Both tests will appear in the one pack, rather than in two separate packs.

Our website will soon give details of the ASPs available and centre coordinators will be able to download PDF versions from our secure website – much in the same way as existing NAB materials. 

ASPs can be produced in Braille format and adapted to suit individual requirements. Alternatively, centres may obtain WORD versions to adapt themselves and should note that if the content is amended, other than just the font style/size, then the adapted version must be prior moderated before use.

If you have any queries regarding Assessment Support Packs, then please contact Sean Thorpe (tele: 0131 561 6939).

New Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC)

We are now issuing a revised, easier to use and understand Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC) to candidates. The SQC is a candidate's life-long record of their qualifications. As a result of feedback and in consultation with candidates, we have redesigned the certificate to improve the layout and make it easier to understand.

The new certificate has three sections:

  • summary of attainment - lists all the Group Awards, Courses and stand-alone Units that the candidate has achieved since 1994 
  • detailed record of attainment - gives more detail about the qualifications achieved since the last certificate was issued
  • profiles - shows the candidate's current achievements in Core Skills and SCQF credits

The certificate also gives Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) information. The SCQF describes qualifications in terms of level and credit points which makes it easier to understand and compare different types of qualifications. The level indicates the complexity of the learning and the credit points shows the learner effort needed to achieve the qualification. One aim of the SCQF is to help make easier credit transfer between different learning programmes. The SCQF level and credit points of our qualifications are shown on the certificate. The Profiles section shows the total credit points at the SCQF level achieved by the candidate.

Centre Co-ordinators will have received a Resource Pack - Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework and the Scottish Qualifications Certificate - which has copies of presentations, guides and leaflets to help communicate these changes to colleagues, parents and candidates. Centres delivering NQs will also have received sufficient supplies of the Your Exam Guide and About your SQC Guide, to help explain the new certificate.

If you have any questions on the new SQC, please speak to your Customer Support Manager, who will be happy to help further.

Find out more.

SQA's charitable giving

PHOTO: SQA Chief Executive, Dr Janet Brown handing over the 8,500 cheque to Louise Robertson, Cancer Research ScotlandEvery year, as well as the day job, SQA staff give of their time, talents and money in raising funds for a nominated charity, by participating in a wide range of activities, from quizzes to cake sales, all organised by our Informal Committee, made up of staff volunteers.

During 2006-'07, we raised an amazing £8,500 for Cancer Research Scotland. Last week the cheque was handed over to Louise Robertson of Cancer Research Scotland by our Chief Executive, Dr Janet Brown.

Louise thanked all staff for their dedication, hard work and generosity in raising the fantastic sum, which will go towards the work of Cancer Research in Scotland.