Friday 21 September 2007
Issue 19


Welcome back to our monthly e-zine, 'Connecting with SQA', which is returning after the summer break. Although perhaps a distant memory, we hope you all had a relaxing break and came back to work refreshed. We welcome your feedback.

New Football Game to Teach Business and Enterprise Skills

IMAGE: Online Sports GameTogether with Microsoft, we believe we are onto a footballing winner with the launch of Sport4Life.biz, a new business enterprise game that has been specially developed to suit the needs of the Scottish curriculum.

This on-line business game is based on how to successfully run a 'virtual' sports store, concentrating mainly on the season-long fortunes of Scotland’s major senior clubs.  The Scottish version, backed by clubs including Aberdeen, Celtic, Dundee United, Hearts, Motherwell, Rangers and Partick Thistle, is based on the pioneering work of The Small Business Company (TSBC) in New Zealand.  TSBC are involved in the trailblazing Scottish game, the first new version to be developed anywhere outside New Zealand.

Over 11,000 pupils from some 280 schools across Scotland have already signed up for this exciting game that aims to teach business and enterprise skills.  By running the sports store, students can learn what works in business and what doesn’t; experiment with different tactics to see the impact of their decisions; and learn what it is like to run a small business.  Given the support of Scotland’s clubs, students can also choose to have their 'virtual' store decked out in the colours of their favourite team.

Speaking about the new game, Dr Janet Brown, SQA’s Chief executive, says, 'SQA is delighted to be involved in this trailblazing project.  It is important that we continue to find new ways of making enterprise learning relevant and attractive.  We are encouraged by the excellent take-up from pupils and schools already and I’m sure Sport4Life.biz will be effective in what it sets out to do, as well as being fun'.

Raymond O’Hare, Director of Microsoft Scotland adds, 'Microsoft is delighted that so many pupils and schools are taking up the challenge of running a sport business. We are firmly committed to helping to deliver the Determined to Succeed mission through this project, and are further pleased that we are finding so many ‘virtual millionaires’, both girls and boys, amongst what will undoubtedly be the next generation of Scotland’s business leaders.'

Find out more.

Energy Boost for Scotland

Together with City & Guilds, we recently announced that we are pooling our resources to become a joint awarding body for Scottish Domestic Gas qualifications.

The collaborative agreement, focusing on SVQs in National Gas Installation and Maintenance at levels 2 and 3, should provide significant benefits to employers and candidates in this sector.  High quality assurance and technical expertise will be provided by the partnership’s sector expert consultants and Blue Flame Associates ensuring that the qualification is up-to-date and assessment materials meet the requirements of an industry that is highly regulated. Candidates who successfully complete the jointly badged SVQs will also be eligible for direct registration with CORGI (The Council for Registered Gas Installers) without further training or assessment.

Sue Hill, Director of Marketing, Sales and Customer Relations at City & Guilds said:   ‘By bringing together our joint expertise and offering a single point of contact we aim to deliver a very comprehensive and high specification product as well as better service to our customers.’

John McDonald, our Director of Strategic Development added: ‘We are delighted to be providing the Scottish domestic gas industry with a suite of qualifications fit for purpose, in partnership with City & Guilds. This will help to ensure high quality standards for both employers and candidates.’

SQA at Offshore Europe

IMAGE: SQA stand at the Offshore EuropePart of our Oil and Gas Team attended Offshore Europe, the conference and exhibition for the oil and gas sector which was held in Aberdeen recently.

We exhibited at The Biennial conference with a view to promoting oil and gas qualifications, including customised awards, to the industry.  The exhibition also provided an opportunity to promote our services and products to new customers while increasing business from existing sources.

Over 30,000 visitors attended the conference which is the Eastern Hemisphere’s biggest oil industry event.  Our stand was very well attended, as businesses were keen to hear about our latest support material, e-competence Energy.  There was also significant interest from international organisations keen to explore opportunities to work with us. The winner of our prize draw was Andrew Cooper from Redspider Technology who are based at Westhill in Aberdeen.

e-competence Energy has been developed by leading IT firm tycom, for us. This new software product is a revolutionary tool that provides a paperless solution to portfolio building.  This is particularly useful for companies who are recording evidence of competence for people who are off-shore and/or based around the world. The application is suitable for use with all our accredited qualifications and breaks down the occupational standards of competence into the key Units and elements.

David Adcock, our newly appointed Business Development Project Manager for Oil and Gas spoke at the UK Oil and Gas capability seminar at the Conference to present our oil and gas strategy and publicise e-competence Energy.

Find out more.

Scottish Training Federation Annual Conference

LOGO: Scottish Training FederationWe sponsored the tenth Scottish Training Federation's Annual Conference, recently. Our Chief Executive, Dr Janet Brown, gave the keynote address, entitled, 'Developing World Class Qualifications', in which she outlined the importance of the link between skills development and economic success in an increasingly global environment and the role that robust, credible and relevant qualifications plays in that process. She emphasised the need for Scotland’s qualifications to constantly develop for the needs of today and tomorrow’s learners and employers, as well as the importance of making qualifications accessible – for learners and employers alike.

Other themes explored at the Conference included looking at the contribution of works force skills to business success; effective partnership in the workforce; and developing standards for a world-class training industry.

Speaking about our support for the Conference, Janet says, 'It is vitally important that SQA – as Scotland’s national qualifications body – maintains and develops the strongest possible links with Scotland’s training bodies.  That’s exactly why we support this Conference and are delighted to meet and exchange views with the members of the Scottish Training Federation'.

IMAGE: Dr Janet Brown, SQA Chief Executive giving her keynote address at the STF Annual Conference

Shining stars......

LOGO: SQA star awards 2007The nominations are in, the judging has been completed and we now have a set of finalists in each category of our 2007 star awards......celebrating the success, triumph, achievement and recognition of the best in Scottish education and training:

All the award winners and highly commended awards will be announced and presented in our star awards ceremony, being held at the end of September in Glasgow. We will reveal all in the next issue of 'Connecting with SQA'

Exam Results

A new record number of candidates received their National Qualifications courses results in August. Altogether 155,893 certificates were delivered. Last year saw the 150,000 candidate mark broken for the first time (150,050 in 2006). Another significant milestone was passed for the first time this year.  Because candidates typically sit more than one course, for the first time, over three-quarters of a million entries having been processed this year – the exact figure being 756,364 (744,836 in 2006).

This was also the first August results run in which candidates’ results were given a rating on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF), as well as their regular pass grades. The SCQF gives all Scottish qualifications – from Standard Grades and National Qualifications all the way to degrees - a credit and level, making comparison of 'worth' much easier for students, academic institutions and employers alike.

Like the other 34,000 learners who had registered for our Results Online service, five young pupils from St Luke’s High School in Barrhead went on-line to get their National Qualifications results, a day ahead of the general mail delivery of certificates. They came into our offices in Glasgow to access the internet there and were met by Fiona Hyslop MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, and Janet Brown, our Chief Executive and Scotland’s Chief Examining Officer.

All the fifth-year pupils voted the service a hit.
IMAGE: St Luke's High School students with Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, SQA Chairman, John McCormick, SQA Chief Executive Janet Brown and St Luke's Depute Headteacher, Jim Drennan
Seventeen-year-old Emma Johnston from Neilston said, 'This is a much better way to get results, and I would tell everyone to register for this service, because it takes the pressure off you and gives you control over when you want to learn your results'.

Jack Jordon (16) from Barrhead said, 'I’m really pleased.  This is much better than last year, waiting for the post to arrive'.

PHOTO: Skills for Work and NQ students meeting with Dr Janet Brown, SQA Chief Executive and Dr Gill Stewart, Depute Director of QualificationsThis year was the second year of the pilot of Skills for Work Courses which are intended to help learners develop skills and knowledge in broad vocational areas and an understanding of the workplace.  A key feature is their emphasis on learning through practical experience. Schools, Colleges and training partners work in close partnership to deliver a practical taste of working life and career options to young learners. They have proved hugely popular with over 1100 candidates achieving an award this year. In the week of the exam results, a number of successful Skills for Work and NQ students, came into our offices in Glasgow to meet with Janet Brown.

PC Passport

LOGO: PC PassportLaunched in early 2004, PC Passport is one of our fastest growing qualifications. With over 30,000 candidates per year, it has become the second most popular Information Technology qualification in Scotland.

There are three levels in PC Passport:

PC Passport is complemented, with a wide range of learning materials and assessments to support both the SQA centre and the learner. Links with strategic partners, Microsoft and Certiport, ensure PC Passport is aligned to internationally recognised vendor certifications like IC3 and Microsoft Office Specialist.

Other strategic partnerships with educational publishers Leckie & Leckie have produced a suite of learning materials to compliment the award at all levels.

Recently refreshed, PC Passport continues to provide relevant skills for the community and the workplace.

PC Passport offers the learner a genuine experience covering IT disciplines required to work in a modern world. It attracts ILA funding and is aligned to the National Occupational Standards for IT Users.

Find out more about PC Passport.

Art Exhibition 2007

IMAGE: Art Exhibition 2007 flyerWe are delighted to announce, that in partnership with the National Galleries of Scotland, we have organised an Art Exhibition at the IT Gallery in the National Gallery of Scotland, The Mound, Edinburgh, from 24 October 2007 to 4 January 2008.

The Exhibition will feature over 100 spectacular and inspirational exhibits created by the cream of Scotland’s young artists for the 2007 National Course examinations in Art and Design. Works at Standard Grade, Intermediate and Higher will be on display. The Exhibition will include paintings, sculpture, design, ceramics, fashion and jewellery. All of which gained top marks.

This is a great opportunity for teachers and students of art in schools and colleges to see and discuss exemplar works from each level. To support the Exhibition and ensure that you get maximum benefit from your visit, a fully illustrated catalogue will be available. A student catalogue will also be available and both catalogues will be free of charge.

If you would like to take your class to the exhibition, please book in advance by calling the National Gallery of Scotland Education Department on 0131–624 6410 or e-mail: education@nationalgalleries.org 

Please make visit requests at least a month before you intend to visit. Please have the following information available when you phone or e-mail to book your visit:

Access to the Exhibition and National Gallery are free of charge.

With the support of the Exhibition sponsors, a travel grant scheme is available to help schools and colleges bring students to the exhibition. Travel grants will be available on a first come basis and are subject to availability. All schools and colleges have received a travel grant application form, which must include a booking reference from the National Gallery. Please complete this and return to us at the address given. If you have any enquiries about the travel grant scheme, please call 0845 279 1000.

As you can imagine, bookings for the exhibition are very popular but there are plenty of spaces left - please be patient - the National Gallery will respond to your enquiries. There are also plenty of travel grants left, so do continue to book and return the grant application forms to us.

Advanced Higher Art and Design

We are also hosting a number of events to introduce teaching staff to the revised Courses and Units in Advanced Higher Art and Design. The format will be a Powerpoint presentation by the Principal Assessor for Advanced Higher followed by an opportunity to view a sample of the best folios submitted by candidates for the 2007 exam diet.

These events are scheduled to take place in November 2007 at five venues across Scotland (Aberdeen, Inverness, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee). Further details are being sent to you.

Logging onto Internet Safety

IMAGE: Internet safety front coverWe are proud to present the only nationally approved training course in Internet safety, developed in collaboration with a number of external partners (including BT, Microsoft and Strathclyde Police). A unique training tool, it’s the first ‘e-only’ qualification we offer, whereby there is no traditional teaching and almost no paperwork involved.

Get the answers here.

SQA Academy and Field Officer Training

In 2007, for the first time, the training for Scottish Survey of Achievement (SSA) Field Officers included training through a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) – SQA Academy – as well as a training day. The SQA Academy site hosted copies of all the materials that would be used at the training day and exemplification of the tasks that Field Officers would be assessing in schools. The site included:

The feedback on SQA Academy from Field Officers was overwhelmingly positive. More than 92% of questionnaire respondents in our evaluation were either ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their online training. Furthermore, 85% stated that they would use their experience as a Field Officer to gain professional recognition from the General Teaching Council of Scotland (GTCS). With GTCS, we are looking at ways in which our appointees can use their experience with us as part of their application for Chartered Teacher status.

As well as repeating the SSA Field Officer support on SQA Academy next year, we also intend to extend this approach to use SQA Academy to support our other field staff, in particular our External Verifiers and Moderators. Work on this is already underway, and will be informed by the experience of SSA Field Officers.

Research and Information Services (RIS) Web Pages

A variety of new data tables and reports have been posted on the RIS: Statistics web page.

These include:

Find out more.

Care Scotland

LOGO: SQA Care ScotlandCare Scotland is a team of SQA staff dedicated to serving the learning and development needs of the Social Services workforce (Social Care, Early Education and Childcare and Housing Support) and Health and Community Justice sectors. The team provides specific knowledge and expertise to offer an informed and reliable service to employers, centres, colleges and individuals in relation to HN, SVQ, PDA and SPA qualifications. We believe that promoting qualifications for staff results in better services for vulnerable individuals.

We are a member of the NHS VQ Group whose aim is to promote the value of Vocational Qualifications within the National Health Service in Scotland and to share knowledge, experience and learning. It also establishes and maintains strategic links with other national initiatives allied to competence based Vocational Learning.

Find out more about Care Scotland.

Apple Creative Roadshows come to Scotland

LOGO: DivaSupported by the SQA DIVA Programme, students, teachers and lecturers across Scotland will be given the opportunity to learn from top professionals as part of a series of events run by the global technology company Apple.

The Apple Creative Roadshows will run at Perth College and The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow:

The day-long sessions will focus on digital photography, music and video and include talks and practical sessions led by Apple’s professionals, an exhibition with competitions and a live band.

For information, contact info@sero.co.uk

Find out more about DIVA.

WorldSkills 2007

LOGO: World Skills uk Scotland logoLast year, the UK successfully bid to host WorldSkills in London in 2011. Over 40 countries send competitors to WorldSkills to compete in nearly 40 skills ranging from hairdressing to landscape gardening. This year, WorldSkills will be held in Japan in November. There are two Scottish members of the UK team:

Chris and Julie were congratulated on their achievement by Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning and Maureen Watt MSP, Minister for Schools and Skills, when they met recently at Gleneagles.

IMAGE: Chris Blake and Julie Doig meeting Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning and Maureen Watt MSP, Minister for Schools and Skills at Gleneagles Hotel

Find out more.