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

Friday 11 May 2007
Issue 17

You may now begin......

PHOTO: Candidates undertaking online examination.At nine o'clock on Monday 30 April, in over 500 Scottish schools and exam centres, Chief Invigilators gave permission to the first of this year's 158,494 candidates to start their question paper, getting the 2007 National Qualifications examination diet underway. The first papers were Standard Grade Italian and Administration.

Altogether, over 500 different exams will be taken at Standard Grade, Intermediate 1 and Intermediate 2, Higher and Advanced Higher, all the way through until Friday 8 June, when Higher Building Construction will be the last subject tested.

The use of technology is increasing in Scotland’s qualifications system and one of this year’s biggest innovations is technology-based. Following our successful pilot, our Results Online service, giving candidates the chance to view their results a day early in August via a secure website, has been made available to all candidates, and already over 10,000 have signed up.

Our Chief Executive, Dr Janet Brown, in her first summer exam diet in her formal role of Scotland’s Chief Examining Officer, said 'This is my first opportunity to see for myself how the SQA manages this complex and very important annual process.  I am reassured – and can therefore reassure others – that everything is in place for safe, secure and timely delivery once again this year.  It is particularly pleasing to see the strides that are being made in modernisation and the use of technology.'

By any standards, the annual National Qualifications Examination Diet is a mammoth undertaking, and thanks to the excellent work of many people in all corners of the education community, SQA is as well, or better, prepared as it has ever been in all key areas.

Find out more.

Results Online Update

IMAGE: Results Online PosterAdoption of Results Online is growing steadily with over 10,000 candidates registered.

Rollout to the college sector is now agreed. Essentially, personalised letters for college NQ candidates will be sent out via the colleges. All colleges have been contacted to agree a tailored plan for remaining SQA candidates. 

The adoption rate of school candidates signing up to the Results Online Service in East Renfrewshire is amongst the highest in Scotland. Candidates have found out just how easy the service is to use to register and to check their own data.

With exams now at the front of candidates’ minds the sign up rate is increasing daily. Centres have been asked to remind students that registration for the service closes on 30 June 2007.

New Technology, New Approaches

PHOTO: CAA TeamFor more than 80 years Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Diplomas (HNDs) have provided one of the main access routes to employment and to further study in Scotland. As these programmes approached their 80th anniversary the Scottish Qualifications Authority recognised that these awards required revision to ensure they continued to meet the needs of employers, while also improving the skills of Scottish learners and making Scotland more competitive in the global economy.

The HN Modernisation project began in August 2003 and is scheduled to complete in December 2008. The principal aim of the project is to produce a coherent, top quality catalogue of HN Units and awards that provide learners with the skills and knowledge they need for further study and employment in the 21st century.

In August 2004 SQA secured a £1.27 million ESF grant to accelerate and broaden the Modernising Scottish Higher National Provision (MSHNP) project, so providing the sector with new and innovative additional resources.

Over the past two and a half years this additional funding has enabled us to revise over 1,200 HN Unit specifications and produce over 1,000 assessment exemplars. The MSHNP project is also developing high quality learning and teaching resources that will be freely available to all of Scotland’s colleges.

This innovative project comprises two major strands of activity.

Strand 1 focuses on the production of assessment exemplars and learning and teaching support materials across a range of subjects from Advertising and PR to Spa Therapies.

Strand 2 focuses on the development and delivery of 'e-resources', including the summative e-assessments through the Solar Project and the development of web-based teaching materials.

The first of the e-assessments from the Solar Project are already available to all colleges in Scotland with more being released, particulalry in the areas of Care and Languages over the next 3 months.  For more information go to the Solar Project website

The success of the initial phase of this programme resulted in the award of additional funds totalling £500k and an extension of activity until December 2007. The additional ESF funding is allowing us to extend the Understanding Standards Website (USW) to include HN for the first time, and to develop further e-assessments. Not all the funds are committed yet, and we would like feedback from the FE sector on what additional resources should be developed to support HN qualifications.

We recently ran a number of workshops at the HN conference at the Marriot Hotel in Glasgow to promote the resources we have developed so far. The day was a sucess – we had interactive workshops, practical demonstrations, and question and answer sessions. The conference also gave us valuable feedback from practitioners on their ideas on what they would like to see developed with the additional funds.

We've also taken road shows to six of Scotland’s colleges, promoting the outputs of the MSHNP project and explaining how they can be used to provide benefit for learners and teaching staff alike.  

Our dissemination of the project outputs will continue over the next year, most notably with the SQA Customer Conference in June 2007. In addition, our Customer Support team will visit all remaining colleges throughout the year to ensure we reach the whole sector.

If you have any questions or would like some further information, please contact Liam Campbell, European & External Funding Coordinator.

Access the resource list of all materials.

searching for stars......

LOGO: SQA star awards 2007We are now accepting nominations for our 2007 star Awards......recognising the success, triumph, achievement and recognition of the best in Scottish education and training.

Details of award categories, guidance on nominating, the awards timetable and nomination forms are now available on our website. We have also sent out a full star Awards information pack and nomination forms to all our centres.

If you want to be part of this celebration of the best in Scottish education and training - nominate your stars online, today.............

Nominate today.

Customer Conference 2007

LOGO: Connecting with SQA Conference logoThe programme for our second Customer Conference, Connecting with SQA, is now available. The conference takes place at the Radisson Hotel in Glasgow on 14 and 15 June 2007.  You can attend on either day -- whatever best suits you.

We are committed to supporting and listening to our customers and have developed the programme to update you on key areas of importance to you. The Conference will provide an excellent opportunity for you to hear about many exciting and new initiatives from SQA, to meet our staff and give feedback. An exhibition area will showcase our products and services.

The Conference is free of charge but places at seminars and demonstrations are limited. Please reserve your place as quickly as possible to avoid disappointment and to ensure you get the day and timeslots that best suit you.

We have made booking places simple and easy -- just call the Conference Hotline on 0845 270 0123 and our customer advisors will be happy to assist.

Have a browse of the programme online today and book your place on any of the workshops and seminars that take your interest.

Access the programme.

Have you completed the Customer Satisfaction Survey?

There are now just a few days left to complete the online Customer Satisfaction Survey which we have issued to all our centres - please take a few moments to fill it in and tell us where we meet your needs and also where you would like to see improvements.

Your satisfaction is very important to us as we want to provide the highest possible standard of service to all our customers at all times.

After the survey, we will publish a summary of the results and will keep you informed about any actions we plan to take as a result of the findings.

Thank you in advance for your help and support. All responses will be treated in confidence.

Take the survey.

Three new Skills for Work Courses launched......

PHOTO: Launch of Skills for Work Hospitality courseNew Skills for Work Courses in Engineering Skills (Intermediate 1), Hospitality (Intermediate 1) and Health and Social Care (Higher) have been officially launched, and are now available to all centres - subject to our normal approval

As well as hearing about the learning and teaching support materials for these Courses - available from SFEU, delegates took the opportunity to discuss Course documentation and National Assessment Bank items with the course developers.

Following the success of the Skills for Work pilot over the last two years, the launch of these three courses means that there are now thirteen Skills for Work Courses available nationally.

Full details of all Skills for Work Courses .

Curriculum for Excellence - Update

Following information on our involvement in Curriculum for Excellence work in the December and April editions of e-zine, here is a summary of progress to date.

Launched by the Scottish Executive in November 2004, Curriculum for Excellence is designed to provide a seamless education from 3 to 18 in Scotland. We are one of the four partner national organisations involved in the Curriculum for Excellence programme of work. We are involved in all strands of activity, including work with partners to draft curriculum outcomes, and to review performance and accountability measures. Our principal role is to lead work on qualifications and assessment; a key strand of the programme.

In this context, in the Autumn of 2006 and Spring of 2007, we held seminars and conducted face to face interviews, taking soundings on qualifications at SCQF levels 4 and 5, Standard grade and National Courses at Intermediate 1 and 2. We involved managers, teachers, lecturers and learners in secondary schools and FE colleges through the length and breadth of Scotland (Scottish Executive Ministers intend to retain Access, Higher and Advanced Higher as points of stability within the system).

Using a semi-structured interview approach, we met with over 2,000 participants in around 300 focus groups, drawn from a sample of over 70 secondary schools and 27 FE colleges. We held 11 seminars for managers, teachers and lecturers drawn from secondary schools, FE colleges and partners organisations. This work was primarily designed to identify the main strengths of the existing qualifications which should be retained in the options and proposals for future arrangements. Findings and recommendations will be used to inform a formal consultation.

If you would like to join the debate through our electronic forum or try our on-line questionnaire or simply read background papers and view workshop and other support materials, we are delighted to invite you to join our Curriculum for Excellence online community at SQA Academy. We look forward to receiving your feedback.

To join the Curriculum for Excellence online community at SQA Academy, please go to the website at You will need to create an account, instructions on how to do this are available from the link on the front page of the website, 'Creating an Account on the SQA Academy'.

As part of the enrolment process, you will need a one time enrolment key. For the Curriculum for Excellence webspace the key is 'Excellence'.

SQA Shows Racism the Red Card

PHOTO: Show Racism the Red Card 2007 event - SQA's Neil MacGowan presenting the first place award with Gordon Grier of Kilmarnock FC to members of the Orange class of James MacFarlane School, Ardrossan

Our role isn’t just inside the classrooms, lecture theatres and workplaces of Scotland. This year we have been proud to join with the Educational Institute of Scotland, school pupils across the country, the Scottish Executive and Scottish Premier League Football clubs to get the message clear everywhere that we all must Show Racism the Red Card.

Charity organisation Show Racism the Red Card has been running anti-racism competitions in schools for seven years to drive home its message. School-age children were invited to produce work of art in various forms of media – either poetry, a piece of visual art or in video – with the best entries from each school judged in a national competition.

Neil MacGowan, Head of our Chief Executive Department, was delighted to present prizes to the winning students in the P1-4 art work category along with Gordon Grier from Kilmarnock FC. The winners were:

  • 1st: Orange class, James MacFarlane School, Ardrossan
  • 2nd: Calum Brady, Holy Family Primary School, Lenzie
  • 3rd: Class Skye/Islay, Isobel Mair School, Clarkston

Overall winner of the competition was 15 year old Fiona MacGregor from Greenock Academy whose poem 'The Wall', captured the spirit of what Show Racism the Red Card is all about.

We are proud to support Show Racism the Red Card to instil a message of equality, tolerance and anti-racism into all aspects of life right across Scotland.

Find out more.

Core Skills Draft Framework

IMAGE: Core Skills for the future

Engagement Period Complete.......but there’s still a lot of work to do!
We would like to take this opportunity to thank customers for their valuable contribution in shaping the draft Core Skills Framework.  We are pleased that the feedback received suggests only minor adjustments to the proposed Framework.

The engagement period for the Framework finished on 27 April 2007.  We will now collate and consider all the feedback and amend the draft Framework where appropriate.  SQA Academy will remain open for your comments and feedback on Core Skills issues generally as we prepare for the development of the qualifications. Already there are comments about strategy and delivery, parts of qualifications that you'd like to see changed and requests for more exemplification from the workplace.

Next stage of the process
The next stage of the process will be developing the qualifications. We will initially be engaging with stakeholders on the draft ten hour units in Communication and Numeracy at SCQF 2 and 3.  This period will commence in July 2007 and we welcome your continued feedback at that time.

Find out more about Core Skills.

SQA in the Middle East at Getenergy 2007

PHOTO: His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research in the United Arab Emirates at the SQA stand after opening the Getenergy 2007 eventRepresentatives from SQA attended this year’s Getenergy Annual event in Dubai on 26-28 March. The event was attended by 600 delegates from 32 countries and it was opened by His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research in the United Arab Emirates.

[Photo: Nazerath Babu Joseph, for Getenergy 2007 in Dubai]

Getenergy's events focus exclusively on tackling the challenges surrounding education and training in the oil and gas industry. The events bring together oil companies, service providers, universities and colleges, institutes and private training providers from across the world to exchange information and develop valuable networks. SQA were among over 70 exhibitors and we received a significant amount of international interest about our qualifications and certification.

Delegates came to visit our stand because they knew of the reputation and quality assurance of our qualifications.  The event was a huge success and we are becoming a known player in the oil and gas training and education market both at home and internationally.

Find out more about Oil and Gas.

New Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC)

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 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 level and credit points of our 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. Centres delivering NQs will also have received sufficient supplies of the Your Exam Guide and About your SQC Guide, to help explain the new certificate.

If you have any questions on the new SQC, please speak to your Customer Support Manager, who will be happy to help further.

Find out more.

Chartered Management Institute Agreement

Along with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), we are delighted to announce that we have agreed fast-track membership of CMI on the achievement of SVQs in Management and the revised HNC/Diploma in Management.

These new agreements are:

  • SVQ Management Level 5 [G82025] - will entitle the holder to become a Member [MCMI] or Fellow [FCMI] depending on strategic responsibility
  • SVQ Management Level 4 [G81R24] - will entitle the holder to become a Member [MCMI]
  • SVQ Management Level 3 [G81T23] - will entitle the holder to become an Associate [ACMI]
  • SVQ Team Leading Level 2 [G81V22] - will entitle the holder to become an Affiliate
  • SVQ Registered Manager Level 4 [G6NG24] - will entitle the holder to become a Member [MCMI]
  • Diploma in Management [G85Y16] - will entitle the holder to become an Associate [ACMI] or Member [MCMI] depending on management responsibility and experience
  • HNC Management [G85M15] - will entitle the holder to become an Associate [ACMI] or Member [MCMI] depending on management responsibility and experience

For more information, please visit the website below or contact Qualification Manager, Elaine Snell.

Find out more.

Calling all HN Social Sciences lecturers......

We are establishing a Qualifications Support Team (QST) to ensure that the Higher National Qualifications in Social Sciences continue to meet the requirements of the sector.  The QST will oversee the ongoing maintenance of the awards and make sure they're always relevant and viable.

If you would like to express an interest in becoming a member of the QST, please complete the form, available from the link, below. This should be returned to Fiona MacKinnon, Qualifications Officer, by Friday 1 June.

Interested? Find out more.

Creative Writing Competition Winners

The winners of the English Speaking Union Scotland (ESUS) 2007 Creative Writing Competition were announced in Edinburgh recently. The competition, now in its second year, received 822 entries from all over Scotland, almost double that of last year.

The judging panel consisted of representatives from each of the partner organisations involved, National Galleries of Scotland, English-Speaking Union, Scottish Poetry Library, Scottish Qualifications Authority and The Scotsman plus an eminent writer. The panel commended the very high quality of entries, which unfortunately, made their task extremely difficult.  Full details of the results can be found from the link, below.

Free public readings of the winning and highly commended pieces were held in the Hawthornden Lecture Theatre, Weston Link, National Gallery Complex. The pieces were read aloud against a backdrop of the artwork that provided the inspiration.

Here is the winning poem in the School pupils between 12 and 15 years category, entitled, Flotsam and Jetsam, by Jessica Reid of Williamwood High School in Clarkston. The poem was inspired by the painting, Children and Chalked Wall 3, by Joan Eardley.

IMAGE: Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley, Children and Chalked Wall 3, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
[Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley, Children and Chalked Wall 3, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.]

Flotsam and Jetsam

Jolly as two old drunks
Staggering and flapping
Freckle cheeks, virgin white nose
A reflection from the moon.

Clasping hands
Like whisky or baby bottles
In a world where happiness is bought in white paper pokes
And sadness yawns in skint knees
Their brains a collage of good and bad.

And they’re skittering and strolling
They’re scattering laughter like birdseed
Splashing colour through puddles
In tobacco-tin housed streets.

See full list of winners.

Health and Safety in Social Care

PHOTO: Lecturers on the Health and Safety in Social Care
Lecturers on the Health and Safety in Social Care course had the opportunity of seeing their new Social Software system for the first time last month. The system, which allows collaborative group projects to be created online and a project diary to be held on the system, will be available for candidates in the pilot centres from August 2007.  It will also be possible for assessors to access the materials online for evaluation purposes.

HN/SVQ Computing and IT Showcase Event

Following on from the first successful event held by the HN Computing and IT Qualifications Team last August, we are hosting the next showcase event on 22 June at Hampden Park, Glasgow - book today.

This event is focusing on Training Providers and FE centres where we will be showcasing a number of existing awards, new awards and modifications to awards, amongst the items to be showcased will be:

  • HNs (Computing, Networking, Interactive Media, Multimedia, Computer Games Development and Information Tech)
  • National Certificate in Digital Media Computing (SCQF Levels 4 and 5)
  • National Progression Awards (4 new awards)
  • PC Passport (Refresh)
  • Professional Development Awards (new and current awards)
  • ICT in Libraries
  • DIVA project

Places are limited and these are available on a first-come basis. If you would like more details of this event the please contact Tony Hamilton.

Launch events for Higher Mathematics

We are hosting a number of events to update key teaching staff on the changes to the assessment arrangements for Higher Mathematics which are due to be implemented next session. The events will provide the opportunity for delegates to:

  • familiarise themselves with the new assessment requirements
  • familiarise themselves with the support available
  • clarify issues

These events are scheduled to take place in May and June at five venues across Scotland.

  • Wednesday 23 May in Inverness - 10 am – 12.15 pm
  • Friday 25 May in Peebles - 10 am – 12.15 pm
  • Monday 28 May in Edinburgh - 10 am – 12.15 pm
  • Thursday 7 June in Glasgow - 10 am – 12.15 pm
  • Tuesday 12 June in Perth - 10 am – 12.15 pm

We do hope that the teacher/lecturer with responsibility for teaching Mathematics in your centre can attend one of these events. Places can be booked by returning the reply form which will be sent to you by your SQA Co-ordinator or by contacting our Corporate Events Team on 0845 213 5102 by 4 May 2007. Please note that places are limited to one per centre and are allocated on a first come first served basis.

Understanding Standards - National Qualifications Professional Development Workshops 2007

Following on from last year’s very successful workshops we are pleased to provide a range of National Qualifications Professional Development Workshops during 2007.

Remember spaces are limited,so please register early (even though the event is scheduled later in the year) to avoid disappointment. Information about registration can be found on the SQA website.

All of our workshops are developed and delivered by subject specialists. Each workshop lasts a whole day and costs £160.00.

National Courses
The aims of these workshops are to:

  • Inform delegates of the issues affecting performance of candidates in the 2007 examinations
  • Consider points for action which may help delegates improve the performance of candidates
  • Clarify any issues

The courses are:

  • English Higher - 29 September in Glasgow and 27 October in Edinburgh
  • English Intermediate 1 and 2 - 24 November in Glasgow
  • Modern Studies Higher - 17 November in Glasgow
  • Physics Higher - 3 November in Edinburgh
  • Chemistry Higher - 3 November in Edinburgh
  • Biology Higher - 3 November in Glasgow
  • Physical Education Higher - 10 November in Glasgow
  • Music Higher - 24 November in Edinburgh
  • Information Systems Higher - 27 October in Edinburgh
  • Hospitality Intermediate 1 and 2 – Practical Cookery - 2 February 2008 in Edinburgh

National Qualifications
The aims of these workshops are to:

  • Inform delegates of the issues affecting candidate performance in Writing at SCQF levels 3, 4 and 5
  • Consider candidate performance in both Standard Grade Folio and Writing examinations in Intermediate 1 and 2
  • Clarify any issues

Writing at SCQF levels 3, 4 and 5 in:

  • French
  • Spanish
  • Italian
  • German

8 December in Edinburgh

English for Speakers of Other Languages

We are setting up a Qualifications Design Team (QDT) to oversee developments in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) provision within the Higher National qualifications block. Nominees are sought from relevant organisations and individuals with experience of delivering ESOL within the school, FE, community and voluntary sectors.

The first priority of the QDT will be to design and develop a Professional Development Award for tutors/teachers of ESOL. The group will meet initially every couple of months. We will reimburse travel and subsistence expenses.

Anyone interested should complete the application form provided from the link, below and return to Carol Hunter, Qualifications Manager, Business and IT Team. An outline of the remit of a QDT is also available from the link.

Closing date for applications is 4 June 2007.

Interested? Find out more.

UCAS Admissions Conference

PHOTO: SQA stand at UCAS ConferenceFor the second year running, we raised awareness of our products and services outside Scotland by sponsoring the annual UK UCAS Admissions Conference at the end of March.

Our busy stand was staffed by Bob Marren, Business Development Manager, and Director Tom Drake participated in the Keynote Panel Debate on 'Diversity of Qualifications Across the UK: its Impact upon Entry to HE', alongside colleagues from the DfES, the International Baccalaureate Organisation, Cambridge International Examinations and UCAS. Sarah Breslin, Project Manager HE Liaison, ran a workshop for delegates entitled 'Understanding Scottish Entry Qualifications for Higher Education'.