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

Tuesday 19 June 2007
Issue 18

We would like to thank you all for your interest and support for the Connecting with SQA e-zine. The e-zine will be taking a break over the summer and your next issue will be sent to you in September 2007. Have a great summer holiday!

Customer Conference 2007

PHOTO: Connecting with SQAOur second Customer Conference was held on 14 and 15 June 2007 in Glasgow. It gave delegates the opportunity to experience and hear more about SQA and our growing range of products and services. With a range of sessions to suit delegates from all kinds of centres, we hope that those who attended took away a lot professionally, and that they enjoyed it. We look forward to staging our next conference in 2009.PHOTO: Customer Conference 2007

If you would like a copy of the commemorative programme, please email our Customer Contact Centre. For electronic copies of presentations from the conference workshops, please visit our website.

Find out more and access workshop presentations.

The time is right for 'Write Times'

IMAGE: Write Times front coverWe are celebrating the exceptional work of talented learners by publishing Write Times, a collection of creative writing produced by candidates at all levels from Standard Grade to Higher National Certificate.

The book was launched on 14 June, with several of the authors present to give readings of their work.

At the launch, SQA Director Tom Drake explained why we have published this collection. 'There is fantastic work being produced across Scotland’s schools and colleges by our students and their teachers.  We at SQA have an important role to play in encouraging talent – not simply assessing and certificating achievements, but in promoting and celebrating the best talent too'. He added, 'the pieces we selected are not about what marks we awarded or the grades they gained – they are in the collection because of their quality, maturity and the images they portray to the reader'.

Copies of Write Times will be distributed among Scotland’s schools and colleges, as well as Universities across the UK.  In particular we will make them available to teacher training colleges so that new teachers can be inspired by the writings it holds. The book covers four genre – poetry, drama, fiction and non-fiction, featuring a number of different contributions.PHOTO: Write Times launch

The pieces included were selected by a panel of SQA experts, including the Principal Assessors for Higher and Advanced Higher English. The book can only include a limited number of the outstanding pieces of work that were considered.

To showcase all the work, we have launched a special section of our website, making all this marvellous writing available to the million plus  visitors who visit our website every year.  In addition, a special poster campaign is running on Glasgow’s underground system to highlight the book, featuring 'Uist Street' a poem by Tracy Patrick from Reid Kerr College, Paisley.

For a copy of the book, please get in touch with our Customer Contact Centre (tel: 0845 279 1000). You can also read all the pieces on our website.

Read the work online and see the launch pictures.

New Scottish Qualifications Certificate - your questions answered

Following extensive consultation we are now issuing an updated version of the Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC). The updated 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

It was necessary to make the changes to report SCQF information to our candidates. While the new SQC might be slightly more complex, it does contain information which is helpful not only to candidates but to employers, further and higher education. All centres have a copy of out Resource Pack to help them explain these changes to candidates. 

We have developed a series of Frequently Asked Questions to help you find out more about the new SQC. If you have any additional queries, please speak to your Customer Support Manager, who will be happy to help further.

Access the FAQs.

New look SQA website

IMAGE: Sample of new homepage
Our main website has been redesigned to incorporate our refreshed logo and a major site update. This redesign goes some way towards improving the usability of the site and ease of access to content — as you requested in your feedback. The key changes are:

  • a simplified homepage with new resource pages for centres, learners and appointees
  • extension of layout to 100% screen width, to ensure best use of space
  • increased font size and new style
  • reorganisation of navigation menus
  • improved search functionality

Though the website is recognised as a key resource, problems with the content organisation, structure and search facility prompted the current improvements. More work will be necessary in the coming months to review the wider site structure and ensure that it meets customer needs.

The revised site is now online at — if you have any queries or feedback on the changes, please contact us by e-mailing

Refreshing the SQA Brand

LOGO: Refreshed SQA logo

To celebrate the 10th anniversary we've given our familiar 'four ticks' logo a bit of a makeover. It's nothing too radical - we have moved to 'SQA' - rather than Scottish Qualifications Authority - everyone calls us SQA so it seemed sensible to use the acronym.

We have still kept the four ticks - which are a stylised representation of the Saltire - but replaced the orange with a purple tick - similar to the top of a thistle!

Our refreshed logo will gradually replace the current logo over the next few years.

Our 'Pride O Worth' crest, which is used on certificates, remains unchanged.

Ten years of Marked Achievement

IMAGE: SQA Ten Years of Marked AchievementSQA was established in April 1997 to combine the roles of the Scottish Vocational Education Council (SCOTVEC) and the Scottish Examination Board (SEB). We are now responsible for the development, assessment and certification of most qualifications in Scotland (except university degrees). 1.25 million Scots hold an SQA qualification!
PHOTO: Chairman, John McCormick
Our first ten years have been ten years of marked achievements. Some lows but lots of highs: development in assessment and certification; SCQF; qualifications to suit all kinds of learners; 80 years of HN qualifications and lots more. To celebrate our 10th anniversary we have produced a DVD charting our story since 1997. The DVD was launched at our Customer Conference and you can get a copy by getting in touch with our Customer Contact Centre (tel: 0845 279 1000).

Find out more.

2006-07 Annual Review

IMAGE: ANNUAL Review 2006-07 front cover
It has been a good year for SQA and we will shortly be sending out our 2006-07 Annual Review, which highlights some of the work we have achieved in the past year. Overall it has been a positive and productive year, so thank you for your support and encouragement with the activities achieved and significant progress last year. We remain committed to working with you to achieve our 2007-10 Corporate Plan.

The 2006-07 Annual Review can also be accessed through our website.

Read the 2006-07 Annual Review.

Scottish Qualifications

IMAGE: Cover of Scottish Qualifications

An updated and refreshed version of Scottish Qualifications is now available. This is the main publication that covers the full spectrum of our activity. Please get in touch with our Customer Contact Centre (0845 279 1000) for a copy.


IMAGE: Football Store Business GameAfter a series of launch events around Scotland and a successful pilot involving 22 schools, a new version of an online business enterprise game was launched in May 2007. Called Sport4life, the game encourages pupils to manage their own virtual football store and make business decisions to improve their knowledge of running a business.

After the launch events over 205 schools have signed up to the game representing 27 education authorities. There are over 260 teachers registered and pupils are already enjoying playing the game. The partnership is supported by SQA, Microsoft, The Small Business Company (New Zealand) and several Scottish Premier League football clubs.

Try it out.

Have (PC) Passport, will travel

PHOTO: Centre Approval Certificate presentation to Abraham Moss High SchoolDuring a recent ceremony at the Abraham Moss High School in Manchester, Assistant Headteacher Robert Adkins was presented with the school’s SQA Centre Approval Certificate by Bob Marren, our Business Development Manager for PC Passport.

This school is the first in England to be approved for PC Passport and will be delivering PC Passport (Beginner) to 120 pupils during this session. To mark the special occasion, teaching staff were presented with copies of the Intermediate and Advanced Level PC Passport publications gifted by Leckie & Leckie as part of our on-going partnership. Two pupils were each presented with a PC Passport badge and a Beginner Level Passport.
Manchester City Education Authority was represented by Andrew Wild, the Education Authority’s ICT Consultant, who has been working with us to introduce PC Passport into the High School.

PC Passport offers many benefits. Linked to National Occupational Standards and the ITQ it is available at three levels  from beginner to advanced levels, can be delivered on-line and is supported by first class teaching, learning and assessment materials.

We expect Abraham Moss High will be the first of many schools in  England  to take advantage of these benefits for teachers and learners.

Showcasing your stars.....

LOGO: SQA star awards 2007

Remember.....we are accepting nominations for our 2007 star Awards. If you want to be part of this celebration of the best in Scottish education and training - nominate your stars online, today. The closing date is 29 June!

More information.

The Herald Student Press Awards

On Thursday 24 May, The Herald's 11th Annual Scottish Student Press Awards took place. Hannah Thomas from Edinburgh University was named The Herald's student journalist of the year and also won the best newswriter award. Hannah will be looking forward to a four week paid placement in The Herald's editorial department.

Janette Harkness, PHOTO: Winners of the Herald Student Press Awardsdeputy editor of The Herald and chair of the judging panel, congratulated this year's winners and paid tribute to the high quality of all entries. ' These awards are are a vital showcase for the best in student journalism, and we are grateful to the SQA for sharing our belief in the importance of nurturing future talent and in recognising good writing,' she said.

Janet Brown, our Chief Executive, said: 'We congratulate the winners and wish them all the very best in the future. We are delighted to play our part in ensuring Scotland's student press scene is vibrant and growing, and we enjoy seeing our qualifications being put to good use.'

Find out more.

A taster of the Skills for Work impact……

GRAPHIC: Skills for Work roadsign.was given at our conference straight from the mouths of those who have participated in the pilot. The new Skills for Work DVD, produced by the Scottish Executive, brilliantly captures both the spirit and impact of the Courses from those directly involved. Students, teachers, college staff and parents tell it how it is.

It was used as the centrepiece of a seminar designed to assist those less familiar with the Courses to understand how they are delivered.  Ideas and options on tackling delivery issues were presented along with a wide range of case studies designed to show the creative ways schools and colleges delivered the range of Skills for Work Courses.

Download the case studies.

National Qualifications Report 2007/2008

The report on development work relating to National Units and Courses for session 2007/2008 is now available on our website. The report also contains some information about National Qualification Group Awards and includes some National Units and National Unit codes which were not available when the NQ Catalogue was published at the beginning of May. 

The report contains the following sections:

  • National Courses - New and Revised
    Information about new and revised National Courses developed for implementation in 2007/2008 (including Skills for Work Courses)
  • National Courses - Deletions
    Information about National Courses which have been deleted for 2007/2008 due to low uptake and action to  be taken with their Units
  • National Units
    Information about Units which are being retained as freestanding Units and were previously part of National Courses which are no longer available
  • New and revised National Units
    Information about Units which are part of National Qualification Group Awards and freestanding Units
  • Deletions
    Information about all National Units which will not be in the catalogue from session 2007/2008 onwards, some of which are subject to the conditions of a completion period

Appendix 1 of the report details approval implications for new and revised Courses and Units. 

Visit the website.

The Write Stuff Scottish Student Journalism Awards

PHOTO: Write Stuff winners

On Wednesday 30 May The Write Stuff Scottish Student Journalism 2007 Awards Ceremony was held in the City Chambers, Glasgow followed by a Civic Reception.  The ceremony was held by the Scottish Journalism Training Forum and hosted by Glasgow City Council.  The awards are designed to celebrate the best in Scottish student journalism and are for students on Scotland’s journalism courses at college and university.  There were 10 awards to be presented along with the overall 'Write Stuff' Scottish Student Journalist of the Year 2007 award. 

Award categories included News Writing (college and university), Feature Writing (college and university), Entertainment Writing (college and university), Sports Writing (college and university), The Glasgow Anti-Racist Alliance Special Award and The Society of Editors Scoop of the Year award.  The presenter for the evening was Real Radio’s Carol Chree.

PHOTO: Louise Brown, Scottish Student Journalist of the Year 2007SQA sponsored the College Feature Writing award and the presentation was made by our Chief Executive Janet Brown.  Janet also delivered the keynote speech and presented the Scottish Student Journalist of the Year Award 2007 to Louise Brown of Cardonald College.

We has been working closely with a consortium of colleges over the past year to develop one national HNC/D Practical Journalism framework.  The framework was validated in April 2007 and covers all the essential skills required for employment in the industry.  The awards are popular with both under graduate and post graduate students.

Equality in SQA

As a public body, we are subject to the equalities legislation, and are required to outline specifically how we will promote equality and address unlawful discrimination in the areas of disability, gender and race.  This month sees the publication of our Gender Equality Scheme.  We have also taken this opportunity to refresh our Race Equality Scheme, and this will be published at the same time.  

The schemes incorporate strategy and action plans, and provide a meaningful framework and direction for our commitment to equality.  The schemes are clearly linked to our corporate objectives and highlight our commitment to deliver on the actions outlined.

The schemes will be available on our website from 29 June.  If you would like to find out more about the work that SQA is doing to mainstream equality you can find it on our website or by e-mailing

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)


We have developed a framework of Units and Courses in ESOL. It is aimed at learners for whom English is not their first language and is designed to promote social inclusion by integrating ESOL into mainstream National Qualifications.  The ESOL Units and Courses have been successfully used by learners in a wide variety of centres including schools, colleges, community organisations, workplaces and training providers.

Following on from the successful launch of ESOL Courses at Higher and Intermediate 2 in August 06, SQA is introducing 11 new Units from Access 2 (including ESOL: Beginner English Literacies) to Intermediate 1 from August 07. The launch of these new lower level Units thereby completes the framework, with all levels now in place, from complete beginners to advanced.

In May we hosted three launch events to promote the new Units. The events updated centres on aspects of the new Units and demonstrated the accompanying paper-based and e-enabled learning support materials. A growing number of Higher Education Institutions now recognise ESOL Courses in their general entrance requirements, thus giving new Scots the means to progress and integrate into life in Scotland.

We can provide start-up and development visits for schools, colleges and community organisations, and publish an extensive range of support materials on our website and the secure website. Also on offer are Higher National Unit specifications from SCQF level 5 to SCQF level 7 for both social and vocational purposes, and we will be developing a Professional Development Award (PDA) for ESOL tutors.

Find out more.

Advisory Council visit Stirling

PHOTO: Advisory Council June 2007We have been offering Skills for Work courses at Intermediate levels for the last two years – vocational courses that provide certificates in subjects like Hospitality, Construction Crafts, Financial Services and Sport and Recreation as an alternative to more established academic subjects.

As part of its remit to help develop qualifications and awards, our Advisory Council has been considering the best way to carry Skills for Work courses forward.  As part of this general development work, we commissioned the Centre for Educational Sociology at the University of Edinburgh to carry out a study relating to the future development of pre-vocational and vocational courses for young people. Many senior national players were present at Forth Valley College to debate possible future steps, including officials from the Scottish Executive’s Education Department, Learning and Teaching Scotland, and local authorities, as well as ourselves and the University of Edinburgh.

Forth Valley College Principal Linda McKay, chair of our Advisory Council, welcomed those present to the debate, which considered implications such as the future vision of comprehensive education in Scotland, the key features of Skills for Work courses that should be developed and the practical implications for ourselves and others, including how these course could be funded.

Find out more about Skills for Work.

SQA Endorsement of training programmes

LOGO: SQA EndorsedNot all training or learning leads to a recognised qualification. SQA Endorsement gives recognition to the quality of your own learning and training courses. Supported by a quality assurance system, it confirms that your training is well designed and delivered to consistent standards. SQA Endorsement is designed to make selling your learning and training easier. It is unique in that we are the only organisation in Scotland that can offer endorsement approval in multiple subject areas within multiple sectors. Our aim is to endorse short non-accredited training programmes and assist our endorsed organisations to develop quality assured training.

Please visit our website for more information on criteria, costs and applications.

DIVA Latest

LOGO: Diva logoNew Member of DIVA
ComputerPREP is the eleventh global technology company to join our groundbreaking DIVA programme to enrich the Scottish curriculum for learners in schools and colleges. They join Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Avid, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Serif and the computing industry trade association CompTIA.

This agreement will see:

  • the introduction of ComputerPREP learning materials into the Scottish curriculum, customised for Scottish education
  • joint activity on possible incorporation of the CIW Foundations certification exam into the SQA Higher National Certificate-Multimedia Computing qualification
  • professional development opportunities for college lecturers across Scotland

John McDonald, our Director of Strategic Development said, 'The partnership between ComputerPREP and the DIVA program will be a vital part of SQA’s continuing programme of introducing and teaching technology skills to prepare Scottish students to meet the skills demands of the growing digital economy. We are confident in our selection of ComputerPREP to deliver a comprehensive curriculum that can be held to SQA’s high standards'.

Oracle Award
Oracle Scotland has been recognised with a British Business in the Community Award for Education and raising achievement in Young People. The award was presented by HRH Prince of Wales for Oracle’s delivery of the Oracle Academy programme.

Joe Wilson, one of our Business Managers commented: 'The SQA and Scottish schools and colleges involved have been delighted with the resources supplied by Oracle and their ability to support both the Higher Information Systems curriculum and Higher National curriculum which form the backbone of school and college provision in Scotland. The partnership is a shining example of industry and education working together to ensure qualifications and training are fit for purpose.'

Jane Richardson, senior regional development manager at Oracle Scotland, said, 'We are thrilled that the Oracle Academy programme in Scotland has been recognised at the Business in the Community Awards. We feel that Scottish businesses have a responsibility to ensure young people are equipped with the right skills for the future.  Our mission is to effectively link qualifications to the workplace and provide globally recognised, industry-supported qualifications for Scottish students. By focusing on relevant IT and business skills that are in short supply, we believe the future workforce will be better equipped to compete in the global marketplace.'

Find out more about DIVA.

SCQF Credit Rating Service

LOGO: SCQF Masthead 

As awareness of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) grows, more submissions are being made to our Credit Rating Service. These include a wide variety of both qualifications and learning programmes.

The Credit Rating Service offers organisations the opportunity to have their provision positioned in the (SCQF). Once credit rated on the SCQF it is possible to compare qualifications and learning programmes of different types and measure achievement more effectively. This ensures that both learners and employers are able to understand qualifications and learning programmes and how an individuals learning can progress.

If an organisation awards qualifications other than those currently in the Framework, or offers learning programmes not resulting in recognised qualifications, the SCQF provides a new opportunity to make these products more attractive and useful to learners.

Organisations whose provision has recently been credit rated include the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), Scottish Schools Equipment Research Centre (SSERC), ASDAN and the Scottish Police College.

Find out more.

Artwork presented to schools

PHOTO: Johnstone High SchoolFollowing the very successful Art Tour Bus, 18 pieces of art were selected by the Secretary of State for Scotland, Douglas Alexander MP, to hang in the Scotland Office in Edinburgh and London. Each student whose artwork was part of the exhibition at the Scotland Office were presented with a framed copy of their art. And now their schools will have the chance to showcase the work themselves - we have also presented each of the schools with framed copies of the students' artwork.

PHOTO: Gleniffer High SchoolNeil MacGowan, Head of our Chief Executive Department, recently visited Johnstone High School and Gleniffer High School to present the artwork to the Head Teachers and Art Department staff. Neil said, 'The Art Tour has been a great success, showcasing the talent and achievement of Scotland's young artists. I hope the works we have presented to all the schools will inspire more young people to get involved with art and design.' 

View some of the art.

The Care Accolades

PHOTO: The Barnardo's winning teamThe winners of Scotland’s fourth national Care Accolades awards were announced on 8 June 2007 at a glittering gala lunch and award ceremony hosted by Kaye Adams. The annual event is a joint initiative by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) and the Scottish Executive. It recognises best practice throughout the social service sector and promotes the excellent work being done to address the issues facing social services in Scotland today.

Adam Ingram, Minister for Children and Early Years, said: 'It’s often the little things that can make a big difference to people’s lives – and the value of that contribution should never be underestimated. That’s what social service workers do, each and every day of their working lives. They deserve the highest praise for their professionalism, and dedication to caring for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. That’s why it's a privilege to be here today to congratulate the finalists and winners.'

Eleanor Ramsay, one of our Qualification Managers, presented the award Involvement of people who use services in any aspect of the organisation’s work to Barnardo’s Scotland with Dundee City Council and Key to Change, Face Project, Dundee.

Find out more.

Art and Design launch

PHOTO: HN Art and Design launchA very successful combined launch for the newly developed suite of Art and Design HNCs and HNDs took place at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow on Thursday 17 May. The event helped launch 12 new Higher National awards and offered college staff, candidates and industrialists in this sector the chance to find out more about qualifications and to meet members of the Qualifications Design Teams. Janet Brown, our Chief Executive, opened the evenings proceedings by highlighting the partnerships which had created the new awards.PHOTO: Janet Brown opening the Art and Design launch

The organisation of the launch was very ably assisted by a group of Community Arts candidates who were undertaking an Events Management Unit as part of their HND, which will be replaced by the updated awards in the next academic session.

Paul Gallagher, Qualifications Manager responsible for the HN Art and Design area, said, 'These new awards are a radical updating of the HN catalogue and provide candidates with opportunities to develop skills which are relevant for further education, training and employment.'

Visit the HN Art and Design webpage.

Stevenson College Photography Exhibition

We are delighted to support the continuing improvement and excellence of candidates in Photography.

Stevenson College's Edinburgh photography department recently showcased their work in the Exposed 2007 exhibition, which SQA sponsored and was opened by our Chief Executive, Janet Brown. It covered the work of their HND Photography and Advanced Diploma students and maintains a high standard of creativity, professionalism and variety that is to be commended. 

IMAGE: Exposed 2007 front cover

Art success at The Scottish Education Awards

PICTURE: Jennifer Rae's picture

PICTURE: Naomi Thoms' pictureThe Scottish Education Awards were first launched in November 2001 to celebrate the successes and recognise the achievements taking place within Scottish education. Entry to the Awards is open to all publicly funded schools, including Secondary, Primary, Nursery and Special Schools.

The Awards included a Pupil Art Competition. The winners in the S1-4 and S5-6 categories were candidates whose work appeared in our Inspirational Art Tour 2006. They were:

S1-4 : Naomi Thoms of Douglas Academy
S5-6 : Jennifer Rae of Bannerman High School

Find out more about the awards.