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

17 December 2008
Issue 33


Christmas Greetings

On behalf of everyone at SQA, I'd like to wish you a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous 2009. I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with you through the coming year.

Janet Brown
Chief Executive

Higher National Conference

PHOTO: Dr Janet Brown, SQA Chief Executive with HN students and lecturers at the recent HN Conference

The annual HN Conference – Prepared for the Future – was held on Wednesday 19 November in Glasgow with representation from colleges, universities, Sector Skills Councils, Scottish Government, HMIe, Scotland’s Colleges, HN Key Partners Group, Scottish Funding Council, and other key stakeholders. The conference marked the successful completion of the HN Modernisation Project, which recently won the Partnership and Collaboration award category of the Scottish finals of the National Training Awards, and looked forward to continued partnership between ourselves and the sector.

Speakers from SQA, the Scottish Government, the Scottish Funding Council, and the university sector, presented views on the future of HNC/HNDs within the lifelong learning landscape. There were also demonstrations, presentations and performances from students in a range of HN areas such as science, music, media, jewellery, hairdressing and beauty, and complementary therapies.

View presentations, photographs and conference feedback.

National Training Awards 2008 UK Finals

PHOTO: UK Winners of Partnership category at National Training Awards, SQA, Scotland's Colleges, SFEU and COLEG

Along with our partners, Scotland’s Colleges, SFEU and COLEG we attended the NTA UK Finals in London on 11 December. We had already won the Scottish Partnership Award and were in the final for the UK Winner of the Year Award in the Partnership category for our work to modernise HN qualifications. Unfortunately we lost out to Yorkshire and the Humber, but it was a fantastic achievement to be one of only 50 finalists from across the UK invited to compete at the UK Winners’ Gala Ceremony. We were presented with a plaque to commemorate our exceptional achievement, determination and success.

This is fantastic recognition for our work and thanks go to all staff in all the organisations involved who have worked on the HN modernisation project – well done!

Art Exhibition comes to People's Palace

PHOTO: Minister for Schools and Skills Maureen Watt MSP with Sara Kelly from St Benedict's High School in Renfrewshire
The second of our art exhibitions showcasing the creative talent of Scotland's brightest young artists opened recently at the iconic People’s Palace on Glasgow Green. The exhibition features works of art submitted by Art and Design candidates during this year’s exams for Standard Grade, Intermediate 1 & 2 and Higher. As well as paintings, exhibits will also include sculpture, design, ceramics, fashion and jewellery. This will be the first time that this venue has been used to display works of art by SQA candidates. The exhibition runs until Friday 16 January 2009.

Dr Janet Brown, our Chief Executive, commented, 'The works of art that have been selected are not being displayed simply because they were awarded top marks but because they show the quality, depth and the breathtaking imagination and creativity of Scotland’s young artists. Of course we would like to have included many more but those on display show the quite exceptional levels of work being produced by students, with support from their teachers, the length and breadth of Scotland. We thank them all for their hard work over the past year.'

Minister for Schools and Skills, Maureen Watt MSP, who officially opened the exhibition at a VIP event for the young artists, their families and teachers, said, 'By showcasing this artwork, SQA is demonstrating the high standards required to achieve top marks in art and design courses in Scotland, and is also helping to provide inspiration to future artists. I congratulate the young people involved and would also like to pay tribute to the support they receive from their schools, teachers and parents who must be very proud.'

A framed print from the exhibition was presented to the Minister by its artist, Sara Kelly, from St Benedict’s High School in Renfrewshire.

Local firm Barr Soft Drinks supported the event and Chairman Robin Barr was presented with a framed print from the exhibition by its artist, Angela Kirkwood, from Dunoon Grammar School.PHOTO: Barr's Chairman Robin Barr with Angela Kirkwood from Dunoon Grammar School

Robin said: 'I am delighted to receive Angela's excellent painting on behalf of A.G.Barr and I am very much looking forward to seeing the other exhibits on display which showcases the exceptional talents of Scotland's young people.'

Bailie Liz Cameron, Chair of Culture and Sport Glasgow said: 'This exhibition clearly shows off the depth of young artistic talent in Scotland. I'm sure in years to come we will be enjoying works from a number of these artists at museums and galleries across the country. People from all over Glasgow and beyond will want to come to the People's Palace to see these excellent works.'

View the art.

Quality Managers' Event

PHOTO: Quality Managers' participants
We recently hosted an event for Quality Managers from Scotland’s Colleges. The theme for the day ‘Enhancing Quality’ was launched by Janet Brown, our Chief Executive who was delighted to welcome so many College representatives to SQA.  Presentations and workshops followed which were led by our Head of Business Intelligence Services, Carolyn Davidson, Head of Quality Systems, Jean Blair and Head of e-Assessment and Learning, Martyn Ware.

Lively discussion took place during the workshops and feedback received was discussed during the plenary session. This has given us some valuable information and ‘food for thought’ as we continue exploring how we can develop our new quality system.

Thank you to all those of you who participated.

Scottish Science Baccalaureate and Scottish Languages Baccalaureate

We have produced a pack giving important information on the Scottish Science Baccalaureate and Scottish Languages Baccalaureate which
will be available to centres from August 2009, subject to our approval processes.

If you are interested in offering a Scottish Baccalaureate, please make a copy of this information available to your relevant stafff. The information is designed to assist you with the Course options process for session 2009/10. We will send you further updates between January and the end of March 2009 when all Baccalaureate Arrangements documents will
be published on our website.

Download the packs.

Crofting Qualification

Pupils attending Sgoil Lionaclei on Uist are being offered the opportunity to undertake a crofting specific route within the Scottish Progression Award (SPA) in Rural Skills. The Course is taught by a crofter and a teacher on a croft so pupils learn about land, soils, crops and weather, livestock, welfare and management, the natural environment, diversification, history, and regulation. Gaelic is also embedded in the course. The course is for secondary pupils, starting in S3 with pupils progressing through Intermediate 1, achieving an Intermediate 2 qualifiction at the end of the two years.

The Crofting course is one of a number of accredited vocational courses being offered by Western Isles schools to help make education increasingly relevant to the needs and aspirations of young people and help meet the needs of the local economy. Already running are courses leading to qualifications in Traditional Boatbuilding, Roof Slating and Tiling and Hospitality and Catering. This applied education approach seeks to promote the development of Skills for Life and Skills for Work in young people, making them in turn more effective social and economic contributors in the future.

Find out more.

Management Professional Development Awards

We are delighted to announce the approval of the new Management Professional Development Award (PDA) at SCQF level 6. The award will be jointly certificated by SQA and the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). The award is made up of two Units which cover managing self and resources and working in a team. 

Following on from this we are now considering  the development of a range of small 'bite sized' Management PDAs at SCQF levels 7, 8 and 9. It is likely that these will also be jointly certificated by CMI and ourselves. If you would like to be involved in this consultation please contact Elaine Snell

Find out more.

Food Manufacture SVQ

We have recently been accredited for the new Food Manufacture: Operational Skills level 2 Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ). This SVQ in keeping with the other Food Manufacture SVQs has a small mandatory section and a very wide range of optional Units. The Assessor Guidelines for Food Manufacture have been updated to include this new qualification.

Find out more.

Improve Ltd's New Level 2 Modern Apprenticeship

Improve Ltd's Level 2 Modern Apprenticeship in Food Manufacture has been approved by the Modern Apprenticeship Group. Apprentices will work towards a Level Two Scottish Vocatioal Qualification (SVQ) in Food Manufacture, which offers a flexible choice of more than 500 learning Units and allows the training to be tailored to a specific job role. These options will be divided into nine distinct pathways covering specific sub-sectors and operations within the industry, including bakery, meat processing and butchery, and general food processing. Candidates will also be required to undertake further study or qualifications to complement the SVQ, with options ranging from food safety to English as a Second Language (ESOL), and will have to achieve core skills such as communication, numeracy, IT, problem solving and working with others.

Foundation Certificate in Personal Finance

The Foundation Certificate in Personal Finance is a pilot qualification created in partnership between SQA and the Institute of Financial Services (IFS) and benchmarked against Intermediate 1. This qualification has previously been offered to a limited number of centres, but is now available to all centres for delivery in session 2008/09 as an extension of the original pilot.
The aim of the qualification is to raise awareness and understanding of personal finance matters that will affect all candidates at some point in their lives, with joint certification of achievement provided by SQA and ifs. Learning and teaching materials and assessments are provided by ifs and included in the entry fee. The following information sheet offers more background on the qualification and step-by-step guidance on how to implement it in your centre.

If you have any questions, please contact Qualifications Officer, Greg Storey, (tel: 0845 213 5511).

Find out more.

NQ: Diet 2009 Standard Grade Exams in the medium of Gaelic

We are delighted to announce that we are providing the opportunity for candidates to undertake the following Standard Grade examinations in the medium of Gaelic in
diet 2009:

Please send our Qualifications Coordinator, Marilyn Waters (0845 213 5518) the full names, dates of birth, Scottish Candidate Numbers and presentation levels of all candidates for each of the above Courses you wish to be assessed in the medium of Gaelic by Friday 9 January 2009.

Please do not hesitate to contact Marilyn should you require further information on this provision.



We will be attending the BETT Conference, 14-17 January at London's Olympia. BETT is the world’s largest educational technology event.

We'll be at stand S105 - so come and see us there.

Find out more about BETT.

Assessment Arrangements for disabled candidates and/or those with additional support needs

LOGO: Assessment Arrangements

We are delighted to announce the most up to date guidance for disabled candidates is on our newly revamped web pages ( You can also find our December 2008 update letter which includes information on:

  Statistics on assessment arrangements for 2008
  Digital Question Papers
  The 2007 and 2008 Quality Assurance Exercises.

This year we have also reviewed the requests for specific assessment arrangements, including “transcription with correction in English”. To ensure that transcription with correction is only used where there is robust evidence of need and where SQA’s quality assurance requirements are being met, we will be contacting all centres who request this arrangement in the 2009 diet of examination seeking confirmation of the candidate’s substantial difficulties and need for transcription with correction.

This year we also reviewed requests for Adapted Question Papers. The published deadline date for requesting adapted papers is 31 January but a significant number of requests were received after this date in 2008 (in fact a total of 807 requests, 29% of the total number of adapted papers requests were received after the deadline date). As you can appreciate it is extremely important that we receive requests for adapted QPs on time. In order to minimise any risks, it is intended that from 2009, SQA will contact all centres making late requests (which have resulted in significant work for SQA) to discuss the situation and to agree on solutions for the future.

Quality Meat Scotland Awards

PHOTO: Quality Meat Scotland Award winner Amanda Gillooly with her parents and teachers and SQA Qualifications Officer, Lesley Clark

Amanda Gillooly of Eastwood High School recently received an award from Quality Meat Scotland for being the highest scoring Higher Home Economics: Health and Food Technology candidate in the 2008 diet. Amanda received £250 and her school received a £250 meat voucher to allow the Home Economics department to purchase Scotch Beef, Lamb, and Pork for use in Home Economics and Hospitality classes. Amanda is now studying Psychology at Strathclyde University.

Congratulations to Amanda.LOGO: Quality Meat Scotland logo

Find out more about Home Economics and Hospitality.

Microsoft Innovative Teachers UK and European Competition

The Innovative Teachers Network (ITN) connects a global community of educators who share a common interest in enhancing teaching and learning through the use of technology.

The Network is currently running a UK virtual competition - full details available from the ITN website. The top ten entries will be invited to the UK Innovative Teacher Forum to be held in Microsoft, Reading on Friday 20 February 2009 to share ideas and for selection to go forward to the European round (travel and expenses will be paid by Microsoft).
The ITN contains further details of the competition, examples of best practice and a forum to discuss the competition and pose questions. Entries will be sought that demonstrate technology making a difference in the classroom, are innovative and are transferrable in enhancing the learning and teaching practice of other teachers. The closing date for entries is Sunday 1 February 2009.
A selection of teachers from the UK competition will go forward to the European Forum to be held in Vienna on Tuesday March 24 – Thursday 26 (travel and expenses will be paid by Microsoft). UK teachers will be able to share best practice with others from all over Europe and also compete for places at the world final to be held later in the year.

Get involved.

The Cervical Cancer and HPV Immunisation Programme

LOGO: Healthier Scotland logo
The Fight Cervical Cancer website contains everything you need to know about the new HPV vaccine for girls which will help reduce their risk of cervical cancer.

The HPV vaccine is now being offered to eligible girls throughout Scotland - find out if you are eligible

Find out more about HPV and cervical cancer and obtain leaflets on the HPV Immunisation Programme. The website also includes personal stories from parents and girls of their experiences of the vaccine and the impact of cervical cancer on their lives.

The videos on the website can also be viewed on the campaign's YouTube channel.