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

20 June 2008
Issue 28

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 2008. Have a great summer holiday!

Annual Review 2007-08

IMAGE: Annual Review webpage

Our Annual Review 2007-08 is now available, highlighting some of our work over the last year.

2007 was our tenth anniversary year - 10 remarkable years that have seen us develop and refine the qualifications and services we offer to Scotland.

For the first time the Review is web-based. It includes a summary of the year in pictures and information on our progress in five important areas:

I do hope you enjoy looking at our review of 2007. It has been a successful year for us - a year that has consolidated a number of significant achievements on which we can build for SQA, and for Scotland’s future success.

John McCormick

Read our Annual Review.

Curriculum for Excellence and the Review of National Qualifications

LOGO: Curriculum for Excellence

Launch of formal consultation process

Following the announcement made on 24 April, Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, launched the formal consultation process on a review of National Qualifications in the context of Curriculum for Excellence earlier this month.

We look forward to working with the Scottish Government and other partners to ensure that future arrangements for National Qualifications will reflect the values, purposes and principles of Curriculum for Excellence, and help to equip young people for the world of tomorrow.

Read the Scottish Government news release.

Read the Consultation document and Consultation questionnaire.


The Scottish Government has also announced details of the Scottish Language and Science Baccalaureates. We are now moving quickly to start planning our activity in order to meet the challenging timescales set.

Read the Scottish Government news release.

Nominate your stars!

LOGO: star awardsYou don't have much time left to nominate your stars for this year's star awards with the deadline for submissions only one week away and counting (Friday 27 June 2008).
The star awards recognise the success, triumph and achievement of the best in Scottish education and training. And this year, nominating couldn't be easier as it is exclusively online. Simply follow the link below to see full details of all the Award categories and submit your nomination.

We have a number of new categories for the 2008 Awards. Appointee of the Year has been introduced to recognise the exceptional contribution made by those delivering our functions. Why not pass this e-mail on to colleagues? There is sure to be someone they feel deserves national recognition.

There is fantastic and inspirational work being delivered in our schools, colleges and workplaces by committed individuals and partnerships. Why not take a few moments to put them forward for a prestigious SQA Award. You have nothing to lose and potentially a huge amount to gain!

More information on the star awards.

National Courses in Geology

IMAGE: GeologyWe held an event in Aberdeen on 23 May to promote National Courses in Geology. The event, run in conjunction with the Scottish Earth Science Education Forum, was aimed at staff responsible for the delivery of National Courses in Geography or Science.

The event showcased the subject for those teachers and lecturers who are interested in delivering Geology and would like to find out more about the Courses, their delivery and the support available.

Delegates were provided with guidance on good practice and useful resources, through a series of presentations and interactive workshops, which focused on either Intermediate 1 or Intermediate 2/Higher. Delegates also had the opportunity to meet with representatives from a variety of organisations whose work is related to the subject of Geology.

Find out more about Geology.

Catalogue of National Qualifications

A new-style Catalogue of National Qualifications is now available on our website, allowing you to search for and find information easily. We will be updating this information regularly, so that you will be able to access the most up-to-date information on NQs in a single location, at any time.

The catalogue includes listings of:

We are also continuing to work on a more user-friendly version of Conditions and Arrangements for National Qualifications.  Again, this will be web-based and will allow you to easily select information to suit your needs.  We plan to launch this in the very near future.

If you have any queries about the content of the catalogue or how to use it, please contact Alex Hair.

Take a look at the catalogue.

Centre updates - new process

We are always looking at ways to improve the service we offer to our customers. Further to recent feedback received regarding our centre update procedure we have introduced the following improvements to simplify the process.
All changes to centre details and contacts will have to be sent to us via the online Centre Update form which is available on our website. This change will take effect immediately.

Our systems will be updated within 24 hours of receiving the update form (Monday to Friday, excluding local and national holidays).

The main benefits of these changes are:

Please remember the online form is for changes to main centre contact details:

Any other changes should be sent direct to the relevant business area or designated contact.

If you have any queries please contact the Customer Contact Centre on 0845 279 1000 and ask for Tracey Curran.

How is Scotland performing?

IMAGE: Saltire
A new website has been launched by the Scottish Government that enables you to check how Scotland is performing and find out whether our nation is meeting the Government's strategic objectives - to become wealthier, safer, healthier, greener and smarter.

The Scotland Performs website gives you the latest information on how Scotland is performing on a range of topics affecting all aspects of Scottish life. You can gain quick access to information about the quality of life in Scotland, and where things are getting better - or worse.

By giving everyone easy access to this information, and by showing exactly whether we as a country are doing well or need to do more, everyone has the chance to judge for themselves how Scotland is performing.

The website will be updated whenever relevant new statistical information is available.

Read more in the Scottish Government news release .

Licensing Qualifications Accredited

LOGO: SQA Licensing QualificationsWe have developed four new qualifications to support the Licensed Trade sector in implementing the mandatory PLH qualification and staff training requirements arising from the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005.

These are:

Request more information.

Find out more.

NQ Appeals 2008

With the examinations now completed it is important that we consider the appeals process and ensure it works in the most effective and efficient way for all involved, in particular the candidates.

With this in mind, we have recently issued a communication to all Heads of Centres and Directors of Education providing a summary of key messages from 2007 appeals processes and information regarding key changes to procedure for 2008.

A copy of the letter, along with other appeals-related documentation, including recent presentation to Quality Improvement Officers, candidate information sheets and a link to the Estimates, Absentees and Assessment Appeals document, can be found on our website. Please ensure that all staff involved in the appeals process have read this information and check the website regularly for updates.

Read the information on appeals..

All Energy Conference and Exhibition

IMAGE: Wind Turbine
We exhibited at the 8th All Energy Exhibition and Conference in Aberdeen on 21 and 22 May to promote the new units and PDA in Renewable Energy Systems.  This new qualification is designed for people who are already in a career and wish to extend or broaden their skill in the area of Renewable Energy Systems.

Over 4,700 people attended the show which is the UK’s largest renewable energy exhibition and conference.  There was a great deal of interest about the qualifications amongst the attendees and other exhibitors. People were pleased to see a Renewable Energy qualification at SCQF Level 8 because the majority of qualifications in this subject are at post-graduate level.

Lews Castle College in Stornoway, also in attendance, is one of the first SQA centres to be delivering the units and received many enquiries about their on-line course in Renewable Energy Systems.

Achievement counts!

LOGO: SCQF logoAs learners who have recently sat their SQA exams are now patiently awaiting their results, this is the ideal time to remind students and parents alike that all certificates issued by SQA now contain details of the SCQF levels pertaining to the qualifications undertaken.

What is it?
The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) is a way of comparing Scottish qualifications. It covers achievements from school, college, university and many work-based qualifications. It does this by ensuring that each qualification has been levelled against the Framework and also has a number of credit points. The levels go up depending on the level of difficulty of the qualification and the credit points indicate how much learning time is involved in achieving that qualification.

How is the SCQF being used?
Increasingly, Scottish universities, colleges and other providers use the SCQF levels and credit points to describe their courses. When you're planning what to do when you leave school, you can look at the Framework to help you decide which qualifications might be at the right level to help get the job you want, or will lead to the career you want.

Find out how the SCQF can help school pupils.

You can also download the Achievement Counts leaflet which has been designed especially for younger learners or request a copy by calling 0845 270 7371.

Find out more.

Credit Rating Service Credit for your learning

If your organisation awards qualifications other than those currently in the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF), 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.

LOGO: SQA Credit Rating mastheadFor qualifications or learning programmes to be included in the SCQF, they must have their credit rating formally confirmed. SQA is a recognised credit rating body for this purpose.

Many qualifications and learning programmes have been credit rated on the SCQF through the credit rating service. One organisation that recently had a submission credit rated was Mountain Leader Training Scotland (MLTS). MLTS submitted their Winter Mountain Leader Award at the end of February this year and the credit rating was approved at the beginning of May. The programme was credit rated at SCQF level 9 with 31 credit points. MLTS worked closely with their Sector Skills Council, SkillsActive, to make the submission and both are very happy with the outcome.

Pam Scott, SkillsActive’s National Manager for Scotland - Sport and Recreation, said, "Our sector has a number of 'industry' awards that are recognised by employers and very valued by them but, being vocational, they have not been given as much respect as they deserve.
"We felt that it would be an excellent case study to have one of these awards credit rated, to provide a bit of a benchmark for the outdoor industry to have one of their key awards on the SCQF but also to have people outside the industry understand it and respect it better."

Like all successfully credit rated programmes the Winter Mountain Leader Award had to meet the following key criteria before the submission could be taken forward:

Further details about the service including full information on credit rated programmes. .

Scottish Learning Festival 2008

LOGO: Scottish Learning Festival 2008 logoRegister Today.  It’s Free!

As the summer holidays approach don’t wait to register for seminars.

Many of the seminars are fully subscribed before the summer holidays and with bookings flooding in there is no better time than now to register and secure seats to all the keynote addresses and a selection of spotlights and seminars.

SQA are offering a number of seminars around a number of our initiatives - look out for our sessions when you browse the catalogue.

IMAGE: Scottish Learning Festival
Scottish Education Village

As the Scottish Learning Festival grows so does the Scottish Education Village, which brings together Learning and Teaching Scotland, the Scottish Government Education Directorate, HMIE and SQA. The village features dedicated areas for each organisation where visitors are able to speak with staff and find out more about their work.

Within the Education Village, SQA will be at stand G10 - come and see us.

Visit the Learning and Teaching Zone presentation area where visitors have the opportunity to watch and take part in teacher and pupil-led demonstrations.

Education Showcase

In keeping with the evolving nature of the Scottish Learning Festival, this year sees the introduction of the Education Showcase.

The Education Showcase located in the exhibition features hands-on demonstrations of teaching and learning activities, stories and performances, launches and more.

The Consolarium Challenge will take place each afternoon, giving visitors the chance to test out the latest consoles, the opportunity to see pupils having fun using games technology and find out more about games-based learning.

Showcasing good and exciting practice across Scotland, a visit to the Education Showcase is a must.

Pathway Brochures

With over 170 seminars taking place at this year’s festival we have put together a range of downloadable pathway brochures which feature activities grouped by subject area or topic.

The brochures include all activities relevant to particular subject areas or topics including keynotes, spotlights and seminars that we suggest you book in advance.  As well as topic surgeries, education showcase activities and Scottish Education Village presentations that you do not need to be booked in advance.

Browse and download the pathway brochures

Find out more about the Scottish Learning Festival..

Are you prepared for candidate queries about the 2008 SQC?

Is it important that you can interpret and explain the content of the Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC)? Would it be helpful if you understood the components of National Courses or could explain to candidates the purpose of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF)?  

If so, we can help. We are running a half day Professional Development Workshop: Preparing for Candidate Queries about the 2008 Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC) on
Wednesday 25 June 2008 in our Glasgow offices from 9.15am to 1.30pm.

This workshop would be particularly relevant for business managers within an education authority, administrative staff within a school, MIS or lecturing staff within a college or colleagues with an advisory and career guidance remit.

By the end of the workshop you will have achieved the following learning objectives and be able to:

All of our Professional Development Workshops are interactive, providing the opportunity to gain further knowledge from experienced SQA staff, network, and share best practice with colleagues. You will also receive a workshop pack for future reference and a personalised Continuing Professional Development certificate. This workshop costs £80.00.

Interested? Then please access the link below for further information, or call our corporate events team on 0845 213 5116 to register your booking. Booking has never been simpler - you can now book via the website using our new online booking form, saving you time and money.

Find out more about PDWs and booking..

E-portfolios for Skills for Work Courses

GRAPHIC: Skills for Work roadsign.Last year we conducted a pilot study into the use of e-portfolios to support candidates on Skills for Work Courses.  The response was very positive and we have now secured funding from the European Social Fund (ESF) to extend the pilot. The extended pilot will include:

A series of training events for Skills for Work tutors in the use of the e-portfolio software, DeskSpace will be arranged in late August/early September.

Find out more.

Scottish Education Awards

PHOTO: Winners of the 2008 Scottish Education Awards
The 2008 Scottish Education Awards were held last week, celebrating the successes and recognising the achievements taking place within Scottish education. The Awards, open to all publicly funded schools, including secondary, primary, nursery and special schoools link to key policy initiatives such as International Education, Health & Wellbeing and Determined to Succeed. There are also a number of individual categories which seek to recognise the dedication and commitment of teaching staff and education supporters.

Scotland's Minister for Children and Early Years, Adam Ingram MSP, said 'I thought it was a terrific occasion and I was delighted to be a part of it. There's obviously a great deal of very good work going on within the education system in Scotland. We have a reputation as a world leader in education and hearing some of the stories today and some of the reasons for people winning awards really exemplified that for me.'

We were delighted to support the awards and give our congratulations to all the winners.

Find out about all the winners.

Care Accolades 2008

PHOTO: Dundee City Council Social Work Dept are presented with their award by Eleanor Ramsay, SQA Qualifications Manager
The winners of Scotland’s national Care Accolades awards were announced on 13 June 2008 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 Government. Now in its fifth year, the Care Accolades recognise and promote the excellent work being done to address the issues facing social services in Scotland today.

Adam Ingram MSP, Minister for Children and Early Years, said: 'What social service workers do, each and every day of their working lives makes a big difference to people's lives - the value of that contribution can never be underestimated. The great work accomplished by today's finalists and winners in caring for some of the most vulnerable in our society deserves the highest praise. Its an honour to be here today and be part of their success.'

We are delighted to have sponsored the 'Successful and innovative initiatives to retain staff' award, which was won by Dundee City Council's Social Work Department.

LOGO: SQA Sponsorship logo

Find out about all the winners.

Write Stuff Journalist Awards

PHOTO: Gavin Stuart, winner of the College Feature Writing Award, being presented with his award by Dr Janet Brown, SQA Chief ExecutiveOn Wednesday 28 May The Write Stuff Scottish Student Journalism 2008 Awards Ceremony, organised by Cardonald College, was held in the City Chambers, Glasgow. The awards were open to students from journalism courses at HND, under-graduate and post-graduate levels. 

Aleksandra Stevanovic, originally from Belgrade but now living in Barrhead, scooped the overall prize for the Evening Times Scottish Student Journalist of the Year and Chris Duncan from Glasgow won the Society of Editors Scoop of the Year award.

We were delighted to sponsor the College Feature Writing award and the presentation to the winner, Gavin Stuart, a first-year HND Practical Journalism student at Cardonald College, was made by our Chief Executive Dr Janet Brown. Janet also delivered the keynote speech and remarked, 'Winning an award marks a significant milestone on your road towards becoming a journalist. In addition to developing your specialist skills in journalism, you will also have developed a wide range of skills which are of vital importance in the world of work and also to life in general. I’d also like to thank all of the tutors who have supported you throughout your studies.  I’m sure you would agree that their support has contributed significantly to your achievement and that they have provided you with the key fundamental skills required to move forward in your chosen profession.'

LOGO: SQA Sponsorship logo

Find out more about the winners.

Training Matters Awards

PHOTO: Winners of the Team Development Award, Morris Martin and Denis Tweedle with SQA HR Director, Maidie CahillTraining Matters, the UK National Training Award Winner, hosted their annual award ceremony on 12 June 2008, in their Hillington headquarters. The evening saw over 90 candidates attending to receive their awards together with representatives from their companies and many other partnering and supporting organisations.

We were delighted to have sponsored the Team Development Award, which was presented by our HR Director, Maidie Cahill. The winners of the Team Development Award were Morris Martin and Denis Tweedle, Greenkeepers from Westin Turnberry Resort.

Their SVQ was extremely challenging for Denis and Morris due to the nature of their job role. Their days are spent on the golf course with very little (if any) time spent in the office. They used the qualification as a benchmark of good practice that they could follow to ensure that their departments were being run in line with the standards.

Both Morris and Denis chose optional Units that were most relevant to the changes and improvements they wished to make and then established policies and procedures based on the standards that would suit the nature of the work required. Both departments have seen vast improvements in the way work is allocated and monitored as well as increased communication and the successful implementation of a new appraisal system.

They are both now looking forward to preparing for the Open Championship next year.

LOGO: SQA Sponsorship logo

Find out more about the winners.

Understanding Standards PDWs

Understanding Standards PDW Oct-Nov 2008

Booking forms for this year's Understanding Standards Professional Development Workshop programme have now been sent to the SQA Co-ordinator in each centre.  This year's events are taking place in October and November.  The following subjects are covered:

These events have proven to be very popular in the past and are expected to be fully booked again this year, so take advantage of the opportunity to get your booking in as early as possible.

You will also be able to provisionally place your booking online for the first time this year - please visit to complete the form.  Please note that completing a booking form, whether online or on paper, does not guarantee your place - delegates will be contacted approximately two weeks before each event to confirm their spaces.  Delegates will be contacted much sooner if there are no spaces left.

You can also download copies of the booking form from the website.

Scholarship takes student to Cyprus

PHOTO: Debbie Robson with Pamela Fowlis cooking in Cyprus

Adam Smith College student Debbie Robson returned recently from a once in a lifetime work placement in Cyprus, after being awarded the HIT Scotland SQA Scholarship.

Debbie received the scholarship for receiving the highest marks in the Hospitality Professional Cookery Intermediate 2 course at the Emerging Talent Conference in February, which offered her the opportunity of a placement in Cyprus for restaurant chain Enotis.

Debbie was accompanied by Award winning chef-lecturer Pamela Fowlis and, between them, they devised a six-course menu using fish and shellfish from local suppliers, incorporating a Scottish twist into each dish. Debbie and Pamela were in Cyprus for eight days and cooked in two restaurants - Restaurant 60 One in Nicosia and Olivetto in Pathos - preparing meals for 140 people each night .


Even though it meant giving up her Easter Holidays to honour the placement Debbie was more than happy to accept. Talking about her time in Cyprus, Debbie said: "It was an amazing experience and I was very lucky to be given the opportunity to work in two top restaurants in Cyprus.

'It was especially great to see how the chefs worked. They were very experienced and it was a big eye opener seeing how different cultures work in the kitchen. It will be very beneficial to the work I hope to do once I graduate.'

Pamela was pleased that Debbie was able to join her. 'It was a unique and valuable experience for Debbie,' said Pamela. 'It allowed her the opportunity to work with fresh unusual produce in two of Cyprus’s top restaurants and work with leading international chefs.

'It also allowed her to see what great opportunities there are in Hospitality. She did really well and coped amazingly in the hectic kitchens, giving her great experience which will help in her future career.'

Find out more about qualifications in Hospitality.

Chief Executive and Board members appointed to Skills Development Scotland

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Fiona Hyslop MSP recently announced the appointments of the Chief Executive and Board members of Skills Development Scotland (SDS).  The new Chief Executive is Damien Yeates. The six new Board members are Evelyn McCann, William Stevely, Anne Douglas, Janet Lowe, Alan McGregor and Cay Stratton.

Skills Development Scotland became fully operational on 1 April 2008, with a total of 1,500 staff transferring to the new organisation and a budget of  £184m for 2008/09.  SDS will be a catalyst for developing a distinctively Scottish approach to skills acquisition and utilisation, working with partners, to ensure the delivery of the Skills Strategy.

Ms Hyslop said: 'I am delighted to announce the appointment of Damien Yeates to the post of chief executive of Skills Development Scotland. He brings with him more than 16 years of senior level experience within the economic development and skills sectors in Scotland. He also has a solid track record of running organisations very successfully at chief executive level.' 

Damien Yeates said: 'Skills Development Scotland presents a real opportunity to transform many aspects of Scotland's approach to skills development. It will be vital for all in SDS and all involved in Scotland's skills development to find new ways to work together to rise to the challenge.'

Commenting on the appointments to the Board, Ms Hyslop said, 'The Non-Executive Members of the Board bring a wealth of experience and skills which will greatly benefit SDS in its first years and drive forward the necessary work to effect a step change in skills development in Scotland.'

The appointments for Evelyn McCann and William Stevely and will be for two years and will run from 19 May 2008 to 18 May 2010. The appointments for Anne Douglas, Janet Lowe, Alan McGregor and Cay Stratton will be for four years and will run from 19 May 2008 to 18 May 2012.

Find out more.