skip to first article

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

24 October 2008
Issue 31


SQA's new Board members

Maureen Watt, Minister for Schools and Skills, announced this month that Susan Walsh and James Edgar have been appointed to the Board of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), bringing with them a wealth of invaluable experience in further education and financial management.
New board member, Susan WalshJames Edgar, new board member
Susan Walsh is the Principal and Chief Executive of Cardonald College, Glasgow. Until recently she was Principal of Stevenson College, Edinburgh. Susan is a Board Member of the Scottish Further Education Unit and Lead Principal for Scotland's Colleges on Health, Social Services and Early Education. She has also previously been a Board Member of Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and the Lothians.

James Edgar is a Chartered Management Accountant with significant experience of finance and operational roles in the public sector. Jim has recent non-executive experience in the Further Education sector having served eight years as a Board Member at Stevenson College, Edinburgh, including four as Chair. He is also active in the voluntary sector promoting and developing children and youth in sporting endeavour, particularly football and golf.

The appointments will be for 4 years running until 31 August, 2012.

Director of Business Systems

Photo: Rob Gibson, Director of Business Systems
We are delighted to announce the appointment of Rob Gibson as our new Director of Business Systems.

Rob Gibson has been involved in the management of IT for around 10 years.  His experience includes managing IT projects and programmes for the British Army.  He has also been responsible for the management of various military networks and later as a management consultant delivering strategic IT solutions to a wide variety of organisations.

Before embarking on an IT career, Rob spent 20 years as an Army officer, initially in transport management and then in the design and delivery of military training courses and qualifications.  He served in many operational theatres around the world.

Rob said: 'I look forward to being part of the SQA. It is a time of moving forward for the organisation and I am keen to define our Information Systems architecture to support the needs of the business. I will be working with all business areas to identify existing and emerging needs, develop specifications and, where appropriate, e-enable business processes. This will also highlight opportunities that new technological advances may bring us.'

Director of Qualifications Development

Gill Stewart, Director of Qualifications Development at SQA
We are delighted to announce that Dr Gill Stewart is now SQA's Director of Qualifications Development.

Since joining the organisation in 1998, Gill Stewart has held various posts including, a number of policy posts, Head of Qualifications, Business Manager of the National Qualifications Review and then the National Qualifications Product Development Team.  She was then delighted to take up her post of Depute Director for National Qualifications in 2004 and is looking forward to her new role as Director of Qualifications Development. 

Gill is highly committed to maintaining standards and set up a lot of the current understanding standards activities.  The use of technology is another exciting areas –use of e-assessment and e-learning , delivering staff development through the SQA Academy and opportunities to improve the way we do business.  She is always looking for new ways to work with learners, teachers, lecturers and other partners to improve our products and services.

Gill said: 'I am delighted to take up this appointment and I look forward to working with external stakeholders to further develop SQAs qualifications and services to meet Scotland's needs and to help individuals fulfil their potential.'

Star Awards 2008

Logo: star awards A huge big thank you to all of you who submitted nominations for this year’s Star Awards. Our judges were overwhelmed by the variety and quality of the nominations in every category. There truly is fantastic and inspiring work going on right across the education and training sectors.

To see the finalists in each category please go to our website
The winners will be announced at the Star Awards Ceremony being held on Friday 21 November in Glasgow.

We’ll bring you details of all the winners in our December edition.

Fellowship Awards 2008

Photo: Bill GoldPhoto: Linda McKay
The Fellowship of SQA is our highest accolade and is given by the SQA Board to individuals who have given substantial service and commitment to education and training in Scotland.

The 2008 Awards, which will be presented on Friday 21 November at our annual Star Awards, will go to Linda McKay and Bill Gold.

Linda is currently Principal at Forth Valley College and until recently was a member of the SQA Board and Convenor of the Advisory Council.

Bill was previously with NEC Livingstone and has been a strong supporter of education and training and SQA. He was until recently a member of our Advisory Council.

Many congratulations to them both.

Royal recognition for SQA Advisory Council member

Brian Lister, Principal of Stevenson College
Brian Lister, who sits on SQA’s Advisory Council, has been presented with an OBE by The Queen for services to further education.

THE Principal of Stevenson College who has worked in education for almost 30 years, travelled to Buckingham Palace for the ceremony which took place on Friday 10 October.

He joined Stevenson College last month, after working as chief executive of the Scottish Further Education Unit. Mr Lister said: "I was thrilled to receive this OBE and to meet the Queen."

Mr Lister started his career with the Scientific Civil Service in Edinburgh in 1971, before becoming a secondary school teacher at Lornshill Academy in Alloa. He then worked at Lauder College, and was appointed Principal of Cumbernauld College in 1999.

He is chair of the National Certificate Key Partners Group and joined Edinburgh’s Stevenson College last month. He is also a board member of Equality Forward and Scotland's Colleges International and director of the Principals CPD Programme – Leading and Learning.

Scotland’s First Customer Service Professionals

image of first SQA qualified customer service professionals
On Thursday 9 October 2008, Scotland’s Local Authorities became proud employers to Scotland’s first SQA qualified Customer Service Professionals.

Launched initially in two councils, the Customer Service Professional Qualifications, which are SQA Customised Awards, have been developed by councils for councils. 

The qualifications are the result of close co-operation and a great deal of hard work on the part of The Improvement Service and a consortium of local authorities across Scotland, led by Renfrewshire Council which also provides a centralised candidate registration and management service for all Scottish councils.

SQA’s Bill Pearson has been seconded to the Improvement Service since June and has been working closely with the Project Implementation Group and eCom Scotland who have developed and provided the excellent eNet Learn™ Learning Management System on which all of the learning and assessment is based.

The Customer Service Professional Qualifications, which have been funded by the Scottish Government, are endorsed by COSLA and certificated by SQA. These are portable across all Scottish local authorities.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Celia Lawson said: 'I warmly congratulate the Renfrewshire Council staff who have become the first people in Scotland to achieve this new qualification. Their achievement is an excellent illustration of Renfrewshire’s drive to being a leading authority in customer service and I hope to see many more follow in their footsteps. This has very much been a joint effort and is a great example of partnership working.'

Internet Safety qualification

Internet safety NQ image
We were delighted  to be asked to attend a ceremony at  Strathclyde Police Headquarters to celebrate the success of 42 police cadets who were recently awarded our Internet Safety  qualification during their cadet  training. 

We have been working with Strathclyde Police on our on-line based Internet Safety qualification since 2006. Chief Inspector Alex Irvine and Regeneration Liaison Officer Rob Hay  were members of the steering group whose expertise helped to develop the qualification. The course was delivered for Strathclyde Police by James Watt College.

Chief Superintendent Graham Cairns presented commemorative certificates to the cadets. He said: 'SQA‘s Internet Safety Qualification is an excellent product for those who want to remain safe on-line.'

Cadet Jill Raworth said: 'The course makes you aware of what to look out for' and her fellow cadet, Emma Scott added: 'The course should be available a lot more for others. Being able to do the qualification on-line was great, you could just pop on to the net and do a bit when you had some time to spare at work or at home.'

We are keen to work with schools, colleges, training providers and Parent Teachers Associations to raise awareness of the Internet Safety qualification as a means of developing the skills needed to help ensure safer surfing.

E-mail Business Development  Manager Bob Marren or call 07770 537401if you would like further information on what we have to offer to help you introduce Internet Safety.

East Lothian Community Learning Offers SQA English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

With the growing numbers of ‘new Scots’ living and working in the local area, East Lothian Community Learning and Development (CLD) Partnership decided to adapt their English learning programme to lead to SQA-accredited ESOL qualifications.

In less than a year, the first group of 15 learners were delighted to receive SQA Certificates ranging from Access 2 to Intermediate 1. The team also supported the delivery of SQA ESOL qualifications in four local secondary schools, enabling six students to gain an ESOL qualification at Higher or Intermediate 2.

One adult learner from Poland who passed an ESOL Unit at Access 3 commented: 'At the beginning I was terrified because I didn't know what I should know to get a certificate...I wanted to get a new qualification because I think that it will help me to find a better job in the future.' Another school-based learner, also from Poland, said: 'We practised report and essay writing, so it helped with subjects such as Modern Studies."

Find out more about ESOL.

Awards Network in Scotland

Photo: Meeting of Awards Network
In September, SQA were invited to join Awards Network in Scotland.  Awards Network consists of various groups who recognise young people’s wider achievements.  The groups in this network are – Youth Scotland, Youth Link, Army Cadet Force Association, ASDAN, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, Girlguiding Scotland, John Muir Award, Prince’s Trust Scotland, The Scottish Council – The Scout Association, Sports Leaders UK and Volunteer Development Scotland.

During a meeting at Fordell Firs, (The Scout Association’s Headquarters,) SQA personnel delivered a presentation about how young people’s achievements could be recognised by the new Personal Development Units and Courses and the options for delivery. 

On Monday 6 October, the Awards Network held their first conference and we had a stall and ‘topic table’ at the event.  Many people visited the stall to get information about the various appropriate Units and Courses available in our portfolio. 

Delegates at this event were genuinely surprised by how easy it is to map this type of work into an SQA certificated course.  One delegate said ‘I would never have thought about using SQA courses. I didn't realise they were so flexible. I’ll certainly be taking this information back to our office to see how we can use it.’

National Progression Awards in Enterprise and Employability

Over the past year, we have been leading the development of new National Progression Awards in Enterprise and Employability at SCQF levels 4 and 5 (Intermediate 1 and 2).  As a result of feedback from previous consultation, the proposed frameworks for these qualifications have been amended, principally to reflect the needs of centres for flexibility.
Below is a link to the proposed frameworks, summary of content and a copy of a consultation survey seeking your views on their suitability. This is the final consultation on the structure of the new frameworks and we would be most grateful if you could complete and return with your views and comments by Friday 31 October 2008.

You can download the documents you require here or why not respond online by completing the questionnaire by clicking here .

Links to the online questionnaire and related documents are also available from the NQGA Enterprise and Employability page of SQA's website .

TranSETT (Transforming Scottish Education Through Technology)

European Social Fund logo
TranSETT, our exciting new project funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), runs from June 2008 until May 2009. It will enable a number of high uptake National Certificates and National Progression Awards to be enhanced through the creation of e-assessments and learning and teaching support materials. We will be working in partnership with Scotland’s Colleges (COLEG and SFEU) to take this work forward.

The responsibilities of each partner are:

The majority of materials will be available by the end of May 09.


All the e-assessment work was put out for tender in June 2008. A number of bids were received by the September submission date. These bids have now been evaluated and contracts have been awarded to several colleges. Curriculum development experts currently working in these colleges have been identified to create and quality assure e-assessment content. Training workshops for those authors and peer reviewers are taking place during October and November in conjunction with Scotland’s Colleges (SFEU).

E-assessment items will be developed in the following areas:

Learning and Teaching materials

Scotland’s Colleges (COLEG) will manage the development of learning and teaching materials by curriculum experts. Contracts for this work have been arranged with individual colleges during August and September. 

Materials will be developed in the following areas:

If you would like more information on this development, please email us.

Careers/National Qualifications Posters

We have worked in conjunction with Continuing Education Gateway (Gateway) to produce posters depicting the links between NQ subject areas and related careers.

The new set of 30 highly attractive, full-colour careers posters, which replaced the version produced in 2002, were distributed to all secondary schools and colleges throughout Scotland by the end of last month. There are also posters to promote Skills for Work and Personal Development courses.

Evaluation surveys indicate that these posters are highly rated as a careers education resource, and are particularly useful during the period when pupils are making their choice of subjects for S3.

Show Racism the Red Card

Show Racism the Red Card logo
Show Racism the Red Card is an educational and campaigning charity which aims to combat racism through the use of footballers as anti-racist role models. They have the backing of all the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League Clubs as well as SQA who have been very supportive of the campaign by providing sponsorship for specific pieces of work.

One of the highlights of the campaign is the annual Fortnight of Action in October. This period of concerted anti-racist activity throughout Scotland involves community groups, schools, supporters trusts, youth groups as well as over 200 teams from the Premier League, Scottish Football League and the Junior and Women’s Leagues. Last year’s series of events was a great success with over 500 actions.

They will soon be launching our two new films this year: an updated Scottish film (supported by SQA) and a new educational resource tackling Islamophobia. These resources will be used by our team of former players - Jim Duffy, Derek Ferguson, Gary McKay, Brian Irvine and Michael Weir - to deliver anti-racist workshops in schools alongside football coaching sessions.

We will continue to tackle racism in all its guises but you also have a role to play in challenging racism, ensuring that people are judged not on the colour of their skin or their country of origin but on the content of their character.

Click here for more details about Show Racism the Red Card.

National Training Awards 2008

Logo: National Training Awards

SQA and our partner Scotland's Colleges have been shortlisted for a prestigious NTA in recognition of our work to modernise HN qualifications.

Winners will be announced on Thursday 30 October and we'll let you know in our next issue how we got on!

Art Exhibition at the Scottish Parliament

Photo: Art Exhibition at the Scottish Parliament
Paintings, sculpture, and jewellery from 180 of Scotland’s talented and creative art students went on show at our Art Exhibition in the Scottish Parliament which opened last week. The artworks were created for the 2008 Higher Art and Design examinations and the exhibition is open until Thursday 6 November.

A programme of educational visits is available for Scottish schools to learn about the Scottish Parliament and to view our exhibition while it is at Holyrood.  To date, the Scottish Parliament has received bookings from 80 different schools.

Take a look at the artwork in our online gallery.

BBC Scotland News have put a selection of the artworks on their website - have a look.

Better still, why not take a trip to the Scottish Parliament and see how great the exhibition is for yourself?

The exhibition is sponsored by Leckie & Leckie, Scottish Government, SCQF, Sterling Furniture and EIS and our media partner is The Scotsman.

Have you got yours?

Local College Awards permit colleges to make, on behalf of SQA, an award at the college's own awards or graduation ceremony. The College Principal has the discretion to make an award to a suitable student completing some element of SQA's provision. 

The award consists of a £50 book token and a commemorative certificate and are presented to the student at the ceremony.

Jennifer Mackintosh (pictured) was recently presented with a Local College Award at Perth College's graduation ceremony after showing her commitment and dedication while completing an HND in Hospitality Management.

Only one local award per annum can be made to each college. If you would like further details, please contact Katie Christie.

The Scottish Learning Festival 2008 – Bigger and Better than ever!

SQA at the Scottish Learning Festival
We hope you managed to visit our stand at this year's Scottish Learning Festival. With more seminars, more exhibitors, more features and over 7000 delegates the 2008 festival was the biggest and most successful to date.

Did you miss a seminar? Do you need copies of slides? Fear not! You can access a full range of keynote speeches, seminar highlights and much more from the comfort of your own home to relive the best bits of the festival over and over again by visiting the website.

Dates for your Diary – SLF 2009

Preparations for next year’s Scottish Learning Festival is already well underway. This free event will be held on 23 and 24 September, at the SECC and Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow

The Scottish Learning Festival 2009 programme will be available in May 2009.  To request an electronic copy of the programme, please email the SLF Team.

The SCQF Handbook

SCQF logoWhat is the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework?
The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) promotes lifelong learning in Scotland. The Framework enables individuals to find out about all mainstream qualifications in Scotland to plan their future learning. The Framework supports everyone in Scotland including learning providers and employers.

What is the purpose of the SCQF Handbook?
The SCQF Handbook is a technical document which is used by all credit rating bodies to assign a level and credit to qualifications and assessed formal, non-formal and informal learning programmes to enable them to be entered into the SCQF Framework. 

Why is the Handbook being reviewed?

Over the past seven years, the usage of the handbook has increased dramatically and now people from various sectors are using it for many different reasons. Alongside these developments in Scotland there have also been many developments within the other frameworks in the UK and in Europe which may impact on the SCQF Guidelines. 

The SCQF would welcome your contribution to the review of the handbook - tell them what you think by clicking here

You can also contribute to the events that are being organised. For more information on these, contact Audrey McClements, Quality Officer, SCQF Partnership, 39 St Vincent Place, Glasgow, G1 2ER.