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

Friday 9 March 2007
Issue 15

New Chief Executive

PHOTO: Dr Janet Brown, new SQA Chief ExecutiveDr Janet Brown started as our new Chief Executive this week. Dr Brown joins us from Scottish Enterprise, where she was Managing Director of Industries. Before her five years at Scottish Enterprise, Dr Brown worked in the electronics sector, spending considerable time in the USA.

Janet said 'I'm absolutely delighted to be with SQA. There are huge challenges facing all of us who work in education and training. I'm really looking forward to meeting our customers and stakeholders over the coming months to listen to their views on how SQA can support and play a full part in future developments.'

Launch of 5-14 Assessment Bank in Gaelic

PHOTO: Bailie Gordon Matheson, Glasgow City Council; Dr Janet Brown, SQA Chief Executive; Mrs Donalda McComb, Head Teacher of the Glasgow Gaelic School and Cathy MacDonald, journalist and presenter at the launch of the 5-14 Assessment Bank in Gaelic at the Glasgow Gaelic SchoolWe are delighted to announce the launch yesterday of the 5-14 Assessment Bank in Gaelic - an online resource which provides assessment tools to teachers, allowing them to verify their judgement on the progress made and levels reached by pupils - for the first time now available in Gaelic for Mathematics, Reading and Writing. The assessment materials have been written by teachers and have undergone a rigorous process of validation and pre-testing.

In Mathematics, there are 10 assessments at each level from A to F, covering information handling; numbers, money and measurement; shape, position and movement; and problem solving.

There are now 36 different Reading assessments, also covering all six levels, and all completely new, using Gaelic texts rather than translations of English texts.  Work is underway to increase this Bank from 36 items to 60.

24 Writing assessments have been developed along with a further 9 assessments in Writer’s Crafts.  These assessments are translations from English that have been selected by Gaelic teachers as being particularly appropriate.

This project has been developed by us in partnership with Learning and Teaching Scotland, the Assessment is for Learning team, and the Scottish Executive’s Smarter Scotland initiative, and was launched at Glasgow’s Gaelic School by popular TV and Gaelic personality Cathy MacDonald.

Speaking about this development, SQA Chief Executive Dr Janet Brown said, ‘We strive to make Scotland’s qualifications system as inclusive as possible and I’m delighted that we have now developed this bank of materials in Gaelic. This is another example of how we at SQA are working hard to support our Gaelic community, and Gaelic learning’.

Access the Assessment Bank in Gaelic.

Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Ready Reckoner

IMAGE: SCQF Ready ReckonerWe have recently revised the postcard size ready reckoner to show our new and revised portfolio of qualifications. The reckoner shows our qualifications against the levels of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) and the credit points allocated to them.

Find out more.

Launch of online Appointees Services

We are delighted to announce the launch of our first website for our appointees. It is for all our potential and current appointees, such as Markers, Verifiers and Examiners, and provides information for those who want to find out more about appointee work and information and services for existing appointees.

This includes:

  • details of the number and range of our appointees and appointments – every year we rely on the professional services provided by around 15,000 teachers and lecturers who work as appointees, undertaking a wide range of tasks. Without these appointees, the examination system in Scotland and the issue of candidates' results would not be possible
  • job descriptions for all appointment types, eg Marker, Verifier
  • links to:
    • the benefits of being an Appointee for individuals, centres and employers
    • information on professional recognition
    • SQA Academy website
    • Understanding Standards website
  • information on Appointee fees and expenses

Find out more.

Open Recruitment of Senior Appointees

As part of our commitment to greater openness and transparency in our recruitment processes for senior Appointees, we have decided to pilot the open recruitment of a small number of Principal Assessor and Senior Verifier vacancies as they arise over the next two years or so. We shall not necessarily implement these new procedures for every vacancy during this time - we shall judge each case on its merits and decide on the most suitable approach for each appointment as it arises.

The first vacancy to be advertised is the PA for Intermediate 1 and 2 Care. We shall soon be publicising it on our website's Care page and a downloadable application form will be available to be returned by post or email to Tom Stannage, the Qualifications Manager. Details of the vacancy were also included in a bulk e-mail to centres immediately prior to the recent Care Courses launch at the end of February. Information was provided about the standards of expertise and leadership required of the PA for the subject and levels, as well as the closing and interview dates.

The process will be repeated for additional subjects and the outcomes evaluated carefully before any final decisions are made about wider implementation.

Realising Scotlandís Financial Assets

We have created a new set of awards designed to meet the needs of Scotland’s Financial Services industry. For the first time, they provide a comprehensive range of awards for candidates of every age and level of experience. The aim is to help develop the pool of highly trained staff required to fuel future development and growth and to secure Scotland’s place in this highly competitive marketplace.

The new awards currently cover four qualifications:

  • the National Qualification (NQ) Skills for Work
  • Higher National (HN)
  • National Professional Award (NPA)
  • Professional Development Award (PDA)

Together, they offer a clear route to progress within the sector for candidates from school leavers to experienced industry professionals. They have been devised in collaboration with the Securities and Investment Institute, the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland.

We introduced the new qualifications to the sector at a presentation and exhibition held recently in Edinburgh supported by the Financial Services Skills Council. The event was attended by around 40 senior staff representing the major organisations in the Financial sector.

Sue Macfarlane, our Qualifications Manager in the area says, 'The new Financial Services awards represent a real opportunity for a thriving industry to bring new prosperity and employment to Scotland by raising the standards of training amongst potential and new employees. Proof that improved skills are good for the industry, for the individual and for the economy'.

Showcasing Innovative Teachers

PHOTO: Gillian Graham, acting depute head and pupils from St Cadoc's primary in East Renfrewshire, accepting Innovative Teacher award from Tom Drake OBE, SQA interim Chief ExecutivePHOTO: Andrea Kay, Head Teacher of Glentrool Primary in the Scottish Borders, accepting Innovative Teacher award from Tom Drake OBE, SQA interim Chief Executive

In partnership with Microsoft, we recently held a hugely successful Showcase Event in our Glasgow office.  Attendees included primary and secondary teachers; local authority managers; General Teachers Council Scotland (GTCS), Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) and SQA staff.

Delegates had the opportunity to attend four excellent seminars:

  • The ten local authorities who are participating in the Microsoft Innovative Teachers Program displayed examples of how they are usefully incorporating technology into teaching and learning in early years, primary and secondary school environments.

  • Teachers who have participated in the Microsoft Challenge Fund told us of their experiences in using technology.  The Challenge Fund awards a small sum of money to teachers to allow them to pursue a project involving the innovative use of ICT.

  • Students who have been involved in the pilot of the new, exciting Sports Store Game that was developed in New Zealand, demonstrated how the game should be played !  This game allows students to simulate managing a retail sports store – making the business related decisions as they would in real life.

  • The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) delivered a hard hitting and thought provoking presentation on the dangers young people may be subjected to online.  To find out more, check out

There was also an awards ceremony where teachers who have successfully incorporated ICT in the classroom were rewarded for their exemplary work.  Seven teachers received a commemorative certificate – four of them also received a cheque for £250 while the other three will represent Scotland in Paris at the next stage of the Innovative Teacher finals !

E-assessment Case Studies

National (and international) educational priorities of the moment focus on the ‘personalisation’ of learning - putting the learner at the heart of the education system. As a result, assessment is gradually moving away from end-of-programme, time-controlled assessments for large groups of people, towards the continuous monitoring of the progress of individual learners. Technological advances have generated a variety of new e-assessment methods to support this change. These approaches can be engaging and interesting for learners, and many of them allow learners to track their progress through high quality, and often immediate, feedback.    

When they hear the term ‘e-assessment’ most people think of online multiple choice questions (MCQs) and quizzes. However, we use ‘e-assessment’ to describe not only online MCQs but also any other situation where information and communications technology (ICT) is used to support assessment. This can range from simply word processing essays and submitting them electronically for marking to using sophisticated software to simulate real life situations.

We have been exploring issues around the use of e-assessment for several years. Throughout this time e-assessments have been piloted in various centres across Scotland - primary schools, secondary schools and colleges. This piloting has involved a variety of approaches and delivery methods.

To promote the sharing of good practice, we are building up a series of case studies describing some of these pilots from various perspectives - teachers, Verifiers, Chief Invigilators and learners. Currently there are five in the series, and these can be accessed by using the links below.

More case studies are at the planning stage. The next three in the series will feature The formative use of e-assessments, Using the Pass-IT assessment system and The SOLAR project.

SQA searching for stars.....

LOGO: SQA star awards 2007
We are excited to unveil our new look annual awards this year - the star awards......

These awards recognise the success, triumph, achievement and recognition of the best in Scottish education.

Further details and guidance about the award categories, together with nomination forms will be sent to you in April. For the first time you will be able to nominate online - so who will be your star?

Scotland's Colleges Marketing Awards 2007

PHOTO: Award winners, Angus College with (front row) John Burt OBE, Principal of Angus College, Kay Gilmour, Director of Marketing and Business Growth, Neil MacGowan, SQA Head of the Chief Executive Department and Ruth Wishart, broadcaster and writer
SFEU had their annual Marketing Awards ceremony recently, in recognition of the important contribution marketing makes to the success of Scotland's colleges and to celebrate the high standards of professionalism, attained by their marketing staff.

We sponsored two awards - 'Innovation' and 'Other Prospectus'. The winner of the 'Innovation' award was Angus College, who also won the Grand Prix Award. The 'Other Prospectus' award was won by Stevenson College, Edinburgh.

Pictured in the front row with the Angus College Marketing Team, are John Burt OBE, Principal of Angus College, Kay Gilmour, Director of Marketing and Business Growth at Angus College, Neil MacGowan, Head of SQA's Chief Executive Department and Ruth Wishart, writer and broadcaster.

Find out more.

Security licensing qualifications in Scotland

We are pleased to announce that we have recently approved Edexcel's application to become an approved awarding body and have also subsequently accredited their three licence to practice qualifications in Scotland. The Security Industry Authority (SIA) has also awarded Edexcel preferred status to enable it to work as an endorsed awarding body in Scotland.

George Brown, SQA Business Manager said: 'We are pleased to support the work of the SIA in its aim to raise the standards within the private security industry in Scotland.  In addition, we look forward to working with Edexcel in this sector and to a productive working relationship which supports learners' and employers in this important sector'.

Jennifer Pattinson, SIA Head of Investigation for Scotland, said: 'SIA licensing for Scotland will help protect the public by preventing unsuitable or poorly trained people from working in the private security industry and by raising the standards of service, the BTEC qualification will support that aim'.

Sallyann Baldry of Edexcel, said: 'We are looking forward to supporting the SIA in transforming the skills of the private security workforce in Scotland.  Many of our existing Edexcel approved centres intend to offer training in Scotland and we urge employers and training providers north of the border to contact us now to ensure that they are ready for the licensing deadline'.

National Qualification Group Awards: National Certificates and National Progression Awards (NPAs): Strategic Update

The NQ Group Award development programme is now well underway.  Within the 13 sector areas where market analysis was conducted last year, qualification design teams have been formed in order to develop around 50 Group Awards.  A further 19 developments will start from April 2007, 19 from April 2008 and 5 from April 2009.  Qualification design teams are on track to have 18 new Group Awards available to centres from August 2007, 5 National Certificates and 13 National Progression Awards.  A development schedule which gives our detailed work plan and which is updated monthly is available on our website.

We are keen that colleges take the opportunity to engage with us in the development process and would be very happy to receive nominations for membership of design teams.  These should be made direct to or to John Allan or Hilary Rutherford giving a contact address and sector area of interest.  John and Hilary have been visiting colleges in order to provide information seminars and will continue to be available to provide support to colleges as the work plan develops and will be happy to field individual questions.

Colleges will be giving thought to how NQ Group Awards fit with their strategic and operational plans, including the replacement of existing provision, the servicing of new markets, progression within the NQ portfolio and articulation to the Higher National portfolio.  They will, in addition, be examining opportunities presented for further partnership work with employers, and with schools, using National Cetificates and NPAs to build progression from Skills for Work programmes.  We are keen to assist you in this process and would be interested in hearing of early case studies of this work.

We look forward to working with colleges to ensure the success of NQ Group Awards in meeting the needs of students, local and national employment requirements.

View the development schedule.

SHAW Silver Award for SQA Glasgow

PHOTO: Members of SQA Make a Change Group being presented with the SHAW Silver Award by Councillor Alex Mosson with Tom Drake OBE, interim Chief Executive looking on

SQA Glasgow recently achieved the Silver Scotland’s Health at Work (SHAW) Award. The SHAW Awards reward employers who demonstrate commitment to improving the health and ultimately the performance of their workforce.

To mark this occasion a small presentation was held in Optima to hand-over the Silver Award. Our local City Ward Councillor, Alex Mosson, attended to present the Silver certificate to our interim Chief Executive, Tom Drake OBE.

Councillor Mosson congratulated SQA Glasgow on its achievement and wished both Glasgow and Dalkeith well in the attainment of the Gold Award.

Tom Drake OBE said: 'I’m delighted to accept this award in recognition of our work in achieving Scotland’s Health at Work Silver standard. We now join colleagues in Dalkeith with the successful attainment of this award. I look forward to supporting our continuing work as we go for Gold.'