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

Friday 9 February 2007
Issue 14

Inspirational Art goes to the Scotland Office

PHOTO: Joshua Wilkie formerly of Gleniffer High School presenting his artwork 'Grandma's Kitchen' to Douglas Alexander MP, Secretary of State for Scotland with Tom Drake OBE, SQA Interim Chief Executive looking on

Eighteen young Scots had their artistic talent recognised in a special way recently by Douglas Alexander MP, Secretary of State for Scotland.

The eighteen artists produced some of last year’s most expressive work submitted to us for National Courses in Art and Design, and now their work is going to be put proudly on show at the Scotland Office in Edinburgh and Dover House, London.   This was kicked-off with an official reception, hosted by the Secretary of State in Edinburgh.

After helping their creators gain passes at Standard Grade, Intermediate and Higher, all eighteen pieces were included in our Inspirational Art Tour that toured the length and the breadth of the country last year in a specially-liveried coach, to much acclaim. Now, the artworks are to go on permanent display.

Tom Drake OBE, interim Chief Executive of SQA, said:

'We’re always delighted to showcase the talent of the young people in Scotland’s schools and colleges and to salute the support they receive from teachers and family alike. Having these paintings on display will give all eighteen of our artists some wonderful memories and a real sense of achievement.  On behalf of our artists, I’d like to thank the Secretary of State for making this possible'.

Douglas Alexander said:
'The idea of a touring art gallery on a bus really captured my imagination when I heard about it last year. I was only too pleased to be able to offer to display some of the art in the Scotland Office and I can confirm that every piece I’ve seen today will be a worthy addition to the collections already hanging in Melville Crescent and Dover House. The Inspirational Art Tour is a great advert for the artistic potential of young people in Scotland. All the artists deserve great credit.'

If you would like a copy of the Inspirational Art Tour 2006 Catalogue, please drop an e-mail to Sue Jeffrey.

View some of the art.

Developments in e-assessment

We are currently seeking your views on our plans for the development of e-assessment.

In March 2005 we published a ‘Vision and Strategy for e-Assessment’. It was our first comprehensive statement of our thinking and plans in this area. We are now committed to publishing a revised document in the Spring of 2007. While we are not anticipating any radical changes, two years is a significant period of time in this fast developing area and we feel that a ‘refresh’ of the document is appropriate to ensure that it adequately reflects new developments both in education and technology.

A first draft of the revised document is currently available on our website and we would welcome your comments on any aspect of it. Comments should be submitted by 28 February.

Let us know what you think.

New qualifications aiming to open the gateway to work

PHOTO: Speakers at NQGA Conference, Brian Lister, Chief Executive of Scottish Further Education Unit and Principal of Cumbernauld College; Gill Stewart, SQA Deputy Director, National Qualifications; Iain Ovens, Principal of Dundee College; Tom Drake OBE, SQA interim Chief ExecutiveIn a move that brings national recognition and consistency, we have launched a new suite of National Qualifications Group Awards (NQGA) – for inclusion in our portfolio which will provide a clear gateway into the world of work or further, more advanced study.

Till now, the provision of  non-advanced qualifications has been delivered on a local basis, and these new NQGAs will bring formal recognition as well as ensuring that these vocational qualifications are modern, relevant and fit for purpose in preparing people for the world of work or progression to further study.

National Qualification Group Awards  will be available across a range of subjects, from Computing and IT to Construction, from Sport and Leisure to Travel and Tourism, as well as Care, Engineering, Hairdressing and Beauty or Hospitality.

Two types of NQGAs are being developed – National Certificates and National Progression Awards and can be at the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) levels 2- 6.

National Certificates at SCQF levels 2 and 3 will consist of nine Unit credits, while National Certificates at SCQF levels 4,5 and 6 will consist of twelve Unit credits.  The aims of National Certificates include developing a range of skills and knowledge in students (including the core skills of literacy, numeracy etc); having a specific focus that is subject-related; preparing students for progression, be that into employment or onto Higher National qualification level.  These qualifications will normally be delivered in Scotland’s colleges, including school, college and employer partnerships.

The smaller, more specialised National Progression Awards consist of at least two Units. National Progression Awards are aimed primarily at adults involved in part-time training in Scotland’s colleges and will be small flexible awards that focus on a defined set of skills and knowledge in a special vocational area.

Altogether 14 different NQGAs will be available from August 2007, with a further 15 subjects coming on-stream in a year.

Find out more about NQ Group Awards.

Monitoring standards 2007 update

PHOTO: John Young, SQA Director of Qualifications with Margaret Martin and Lorna Kyle, Information Assistants at Forth Valley College at the recent event
John Young, Director of Qualifications enjoys a brief chat with two colleagues, Margaret Martin and Lorna Kyle, Information Assistants from Forth Valley College at our first external monitoring standards event, held on 30 January in Glasgow. The event was well attended by quality managers and co-ordinators (and nominees) from colleges.

John outlined key priorities for qualification development and the processes which contribute to the Scottish Standard, one of which is our annual monitoring standards programme, carried out by our Research and Information (RIS) team.  We would like to thank all who attended for the wealth of helpful ideas and suggestions.

Find out more about our monitoring standards programme and subject specific monitoring reports.

Results Online

PHOTO: Candidates using ResultsOnline

Our Results Online service allows candidates to view their record in a secure environment on the internet.  Last year we ran a pilot of this service which was very successful in terms of service delivery and feedback from candidates.  Having carried out a full evaluation of the pilot we have made the decision to make Results Online available to all candidates.

This will be done in two stages:

Over the next few months we will send you a package that will contain a personal envelope for each candidate for whom we hold a current entry.  The envelopes contain information unique to the candidate along with instructions on how to register for Results Online.  We are seeking your co-operation to distribute the envelopes to candidates and to encourage them to register for Results Online.

Colleges and Employers and Training Providers (ETPs)
We will contact you in April with instructions on how to request registration envelopes for your candidates.

National Qualification candidates who register for Results Online will be able to access their results on Monday 6 August, which is one day earlier than the delivery of certificates. Candidates who register for the service will still receive a certificate on Tuesday 7 August. 

This service takes us another step forward in achieving our aim to support Scotland’s qualification system with leading edge technological developments and we want to give all candidates the opportunity to use it. More information will be available on our website soon and we will keep you updated on progress.

If you have any queries regarding Results Online, please get in touch with the Customer Contact Centre (tele: 0845 279 1000).

Skills for Work update

GRAPHIC: Skills for Work roadsign.The five phase 1 and five phase 2 pilot Skills for Work Courses will be made available for mainstream use, subject to our normal approval processes, from 2007-08 onwards.

The five phase 1 Courses have been reviewed, and where revisions have been made, these were highlighted in an Information Pack sent to all centres delivering National Qualifications, in December 2006.  The Information Pack is also available on the Skills for Work web pages.

Information Events to support  pilot centres with the ‘roll-out’ of these Courses are being organised. The events will give information on the transition from pilot status to mainstream for these Courses.  Details of the events will be issued to pilot centres and local authorities soon.

In addition to the ten pilot Courses, three new Skills for Work Courses will be launched in April:

  • Engineering Skills  - Intermediate 1
  • Hospitality  - Intermediate 1
  • Health and Social Care - Higher

Individual Launch Events are being organised for centres hoping to deliver these Courses. Detailed information and invitations will be issued soon.

Find out more about Skills for Work.

New Scottish Qualifications Certificate

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 SQA's 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.

If you have any questions on the new SQC, please speak to your Customer Support Manager.

Find out more.

Professional Development Awards (PDAs)

In total, 180 delegates attended one of the Professional Development Awards (PDAs) Information Events, which were held in November and December in Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh. The events included key speakers from The British Deaf Association, Tulliallan Police College and Stevenson College, who all gave a first-hand account of developing and delivering PDAs. SQA staff provided information on all aspects of the new design principles, titling, guidance and processes for PDA revision and development. This included PDAs at the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) level 9 and above.

A dedicated PDA web page is available, containing useful information including the development and revision schedule, guidance documents and details of PDAs at SCQF level 9 and above.  A toolkit for centres will also be available this month.

A set of guides has been produced to assist those revising and developing PDAs.  These will be distributed to centres in the near future and are also available on the PDA web page.

Access the PDA webpages.

A Quick Guide to Polish Qualifications

We are keen to support the promotion of Scotland as a place to live and work and recognise the value of migrant workers to Scotland’s economy.  In response to demands from employer organisations for a tool that would provide a basic understanding of the typical qualifications being presented by the large number of Polish nationals seeking employment in Scotland, we have created new web pages to provide information on Polish education and training, with a particular focus on qualifications for post 16 year olds (excluding university degrees).

We hope that this tool, which shows how Polish qualifications compare to Scottish ones, will not only support employers and training providers, but will also benefit migrant workers themselves who may be able to use this information to progress in employment and learning. 

Access our ready-reckoner, with key features of Polish qualifications and broad comparisons with Scottish qualifications, here.

Overview of the Polish education system.

Quality Meat Scotland Awards

PHOTO: Jennifer Menzies enjoying her day's cooking with Nick Nairn; her teacher Mrs Edna Hepburn and SQA Qualifications Manager, Graeme Findlay looking on

We are pleased to announce that at the recent annual Quality Meat Scotland Awards, Jennifer Menzies of Arbroath High School, won the best pupil sitting the Higher Health and Food Technology exam.  Jennifer is pictured accompanied by her teacher Mrs Edna Hepburn and our Qualifications Manager Graeme Findlay, as they enjoyed this year's prize - a day cooking with Nick Nairn at his cookery school.

HNC Management Support Material

We are delighted to announce the launch of a comprehensive set of support materials for the revised Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Management.  The support material will provide assistance particularly for those candidates undertaking the award through open or distance learning.  The material consists of six candidate workbooks, an interactive CD and tutor guidance notes.  A workbook has been developed for the following mandatory Units:

  • Management: Developing Self Management Skills (DV86 34)
  • Managing and Working with People (DV82 34)
  • Management: Leadership at Work  (DV88 34)
  • Management: Plan, Lead and Implement Change (DV8C 35)
  • Manage Operational Resources (DV7X 34)
  • Creating a Culture of Customer Care (DJ42 34)

This covers all mandatory Units of the HNC with the exception of the Management Graded Unit, which assesses the integration of the knowledge and skills developed across the individual Units.

In addition to the paper based workbooks, an interactive CD-ROM has been developed which provides e-learning material.  This is an excellent resource which includes activities and case studies which candidates will work through to test their understanding.

Finally tutor guidance notes have been produced to assist tutors in getting the most out of the support material.

A copy of the support material has been sent to the Coordinators in all HNC Management approved centres free of charge. The material will also be available to download from the HN Management subject page of our website.  Paper copies will also be available to purchase from our  Customer Contact Centre.

Publication codes and prices are as follows:

  • Management: Developing Self Management Skills (CB3496) - £15
  • Management: Leadership at Work  (CB3497) - £15
  • Management: Plan, Lead and Implement Change (CB3498) - £15
  • Managing and Working with People (CB3499) - £15
  • Manage Operational Resources (CB3500) - £15
  • Creating a Culture of Customer Care (CB3501) - £15
  • Tutor Notes  (CB3502) - Free
  • Interactive CD-ROM (CB3503) - £10
  • HNC Management Ringbinder (CB3666) - £8

ICT in Libraries

IMAGE: ICT in Libraries logo

The Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Applications of ICT in Libraries are Professional Development Awards that we launched in December 2005. The Diplomas are now being offered by our centres in Scotland, England and Wales. These Scottish Credit and Qualifcations Level (SCQF) 7 and Level 8 Awards have been jointly developed by SQA and the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC).

The Diplomas provide nationally recognised certification for the People’s Network ICT Training previously provided for library staff throughout the UK. They give candidates the opportunity to be certificated to Higher National standard for the level of ICT skill now required in the library and information service sector. These qualifications can also be used to develop the ICT skills needed by  those interested in pursuing a career in this sector.

Centres are offering these qualifications using a variety of learning and delivery approaches including a mixture of traditional and workplace based, distance, and online.

We support these awards with a package which includes:

  • Arrangements Documents on our website
  • Assessment exemplars (including Log Books) on our secure website (access restricted to our approved centres)
  • Promotion advice and materials including brochures and publicity posters

The following open access support is available on the ICTL website

  • Course Guide
  • Tuition and tutorial materials (Top Up Learning) for each Unit
  • Wiki Book for each Unit
  • Training Needs Analysis to assist centres determine skill levels and candidates' training needs

A Yahoo based Candidate Support Group for each Unit is available - to subscribe logon to the ICT website.

Individual Learning Account Funding is available in specific circumstances.  ILA Scotland has provided the following guidance for candidates seeking ILA Scotland funding to help with entry fees.

'If you meet the following requirements and earn £15,000 a year or less, you could get £200 a year towards the cost of learning. If you earn more than £15,000 a year, you could get £100 a year.

General requirements:
Learners are studying for the qualification on a part-time or distance learning basis, including on-line AND the course is delivered by a registered ILA Scotland learning provider.

Learners must have opened an individual learning account, and have received their account card and account number, with ILA Scotland before booking any courses.
ILA Scotland funding would be available if in addition to the above requirements learners are:

1. Individuals working in a library or seeking employment in a library  where this qualification was viewed by the employer as allowing an employee to demonstrate evidence of good practice within their role which could enhance promotion prospects but was not a mandatory requirement for the job or promotion.
2.  Individuals are currently employed in a particular role, and promotion is dependent on achieving this particular qualification, but continuing in their existing role does not require this qualification, then the individual would be able to undertake the course using ILA Scotland funding.
3. Individuals are not employed in a library, or are employed and are seeking as an individual to improve their skills or employability by developing their skills through undertaking this course.

ILA Scotland funding  would be not  given in  the following circumstances:

1. Individuals are working in a library and undertaking this course or achieving this qualification was a specified mandatory requirement for the job. Or Individuals are seeking employment in a library and the offer of employment was conditional on the learner using their ILA Scotland funding to undertake the course.
2. If an individual is required to undertake the course in order to continue in their role then this would not attract ILA Scotland funding.'

Contact ILA Scotland (tele: 0808 100 1090), for further advice.

Organisations wishing to explore offering the Diplomas and/or looking for help with promotion should contact Business Development Manager Bob Marren (tele: 01698 810 840; mob: 07770 537 401).

For further information and assistance, including a list of our centres offering the Diplomas, contact Tony Hamilton (tele: 0845 213 5472).