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

Thursday, 9 February 2006
Issue 4

New Higher National Qualifications in Music

PHOTO: SQA Music launch - the venue.

We recently held the launch event for HNC and D Music, HNC and D Music Business and HNC and D Sound Production at the ABC music venue in Glasgow. The event was opened by SQA Chief Executive Anton Colella and SQA Chairman, John McCormick. Anton described these new HN awards as 'truly national qualifications developed in partnership with FE, HE and industry'. He expressed thanks to the validation panel and in particular to Iain Smith, Head of Music at the Scottish Arts Council who chaired proceedings at the validation event.

Those attending were from FE colleges, Higher Education, and the music industry.

Paul Gallacher, SQA Qualifications Manager for HN Music, provided background to the new awards and thanked all members of the Qualifications Design Team for their invaluable commitment to the development. Design Team members were from the following colleges: Aberdeen, Adam Smith, James Watt, Jewel and Esk, John Wheatley, North Glasgow, Perth, Stevenson and Stow. Adam Armit, SQA Music Development Officer, took time to develop the themes of the awards and emphasised their flexibility in delivery.

Thanks to sponsorship from Microsoft, after the formal part of the evening invited guests were asked to join the student audience who were enjoying live music from HN students who have begun studying these new courses. Performances were provided by Phil McGlass and the Empty Vessels, Little Panic, How to Swim, and three DJs.

Podcasting at the Academy

We will be piloting the use of 'podcasts' to provide an extra dimension to our training initiative, which we are calling the SQA Academy. We will also pilot their use on our Understanding Standards website. Our first use of podcasts is likely to be in March, which will allow us to test the idea.

Podcasts are audio files that can be downloaded quickly to a personal listening device such as an MP3 player.

Authors of our training packages will be asked to provide audio presentations to explore the topics their training covers. There are two immediate advantages of this approach. Firstly, for many people listening to an explanation is preferable to reading. In fact, when we use podcasts the users will be able to both read and listen, so we hope that this will have a real effect on learning. Secondly, podcasts allow flexibility. The learner can tune into a podcast while sitting on the train or jogging along the road.

We also recognise other possible ways of using podcasts - for example, providing audio updates on the Understanding Standards website, and keeping our own staff up to date with what is happening across the organisation.

We will keep you updated on progress with this development in future issues.

Focus On: SQA Customer Contact Centre

Customer Contact Team photo: Anna, Ian, Julie, Forbes, Brian and Simone.

The Customer Contact Centre is the first point of contact for all customers who telephone, e-mail, fax or write to us. We also help customers who are not sure who to speak to or what to ask for when contacting us.

The Contact Centre is part of our Customer Operations Team. Our friendly, helpful advisors are Anna, Forbes, Ian, Julie and Simone and they are led by Brian, the Contact Centre Team Leader. They all have a wealth of knowledge about SQA products and services. Our team can be contacted by telephone, typetalk relay service, fax, e-mail, or via our website.

We can help you by:
• putting you in contact with the right person
• offering you advice on SQA qualifications, polices and procedures,
• assisting you with your website enquiries or searches
• providing the publications you require
• providing information and advice on upcoming corporate events

We offer support and advice to all customers. If we can’t help you ourselves, we'll know someone who can, and will direct you to them.

Last year we answered over 100,000 calls and 10,000 emails and we look forward to supporting and helping you during 2006.

If you require help or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact the team on 0845 279 1000 or by e-mail at

National Qualifications 2005 Professional Development Workshop Packs - on sale now

Did you know that we have professionally produced delegate
packs available in the subjects and levels below from our Diet 2005 PDW National Qualifications programme?

Packs in most subjects contain the workshop
material, a copy of the Diet 2005
examination paper, samples of actual candidate responses to questions and the PowerPoint presentations delivered at the event.

For just £19.95 plus £2.95 postage and packaging, this can help your staff improve their knowledge and understanding of the national standards in their subject area.

To place your order please contact our Customer Contact Centre by e-mail at: or call us on: 0845 279 1000, quoting your purchase order number or alternative payment details.

- Advanced Higher English
- Advanced Higher Mathematics
- Higher Art and Design - LAST FEW REMAINING
- Higher English
- Higher Mathematics
- Higher Modern Studies
- Higher and Intermediate 2 Psychology - LAST FEW REMAINING
- Intermediate 1 and 2 Biology
- Intermediate 1 and 2 Chemistry - LAST FEW REMAINING
- Intermediate 1 and 2 French
- Intermediate 1 and 2 Geography - LAST FEW REMAINING
- Intermediate 1 and 2 Physics - LAST FEW REMAINING
- Intermediate 2 Mathematics - LAST FEW REMAINING
- Insight into National Courses - LAST FEW REMAINING

Computer Assisted Assessment resources for centres

Computer Assisted Assessment (CAA) will play an increasingly important role in supporting our qualifications in future. This month we are issuing centres with a pack of CAA resources containing:

• a DVD outlining some of our e-assessment activities and emphasising our intention to increase the availability of e-assessments in future
• the final report of the Pass-IT e-assessment research project
• e-assessment case studies, describing some of the pilots we have carried out as part of Pass-IT and 5-14 assessment
• information about a new glossary of e-assessment terms, and how to access this

CAA packs for schools and education authorities also contain SQA Guidelines on e-assessment for Schools, mirroring a publication provided for colleges in 2003, SQA Guidelines on Online Assessment for Further Education. If you have any enquires about the pack, please get in touch with our Customer Contact Centre.

2006 National Qualifications examinations

The Question Papers and associated materials for the 2006 diet of examinations will be delivered between Tuesday 18 April and Friday 21 April 2006. The number of Question Papers despatched is based on the number of candidate entries.

For 2006 we will again issue the majority of adapted and large print papers along with the main delivery. We will automatically issue any extra papers required for use by scribes and readers, separate to the main delivery.

Please note that for 2006 the Standard Grade Physical Education Video will be available on both VHS video and DVD. A subtitled version of the 25% extra time VHS video or DVD can also be provided for candidates who have additional support needs.

Listening materials for Modern Languages, Gàidhlig and Gaelic (Learners) examinations will be provided on CD only. CDs for Standard Grade French, German and Music (Foundation, General and Credit levels) with 25% extra time built in will also be made available to candidates for whom we have approved 25% additional time.

You will already have received the usual proforma to allow you to request CDs for the 2006 examinations in Music and Languages and DVDs/VHS videos for Standard Grade Physical Education. Please return these proformas as soon as possible to enable provision of the appropriate listening materials.

National Qualifications invoice charges

National Qualifications are normally invoiced in April, May and June. The invoice in April is for entries processed before 31 March; the invoice in May is for entries processed in April and includes NQ exam charges. The invoice in June is for entries processed in May.

• entries before 31 March – you will be charged the normal rate (please see our price list)
• entries after 31 March – you will be charged the normal rate and late entry fee
• withdrawals before 31 March – there is no charge
• withdrawals after 31 March – you will be charged as entries before 31 March
• entries and withdrawals in the same calendar month – there will be no charge

When a National Course is entered on a Unit by Unit basis, and the value of the units plus the external assessment fee comes to more than the amount specified on the price list, Price Cap credits come into play. A credit is then automatically deducted from the next invoice.

Annual Higher National Conference The annual Higher National Conference will be held on Thursday 23rd March 2006 at the Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. The programme for the conference is being finalised and invitations will be sent to centres and stakeholders at the beginning of February.
Professional Development Workshops and Quality Networks The following Professional Development Workshops (PDWs) and Quality Networks are running in February and March.

• PDW in Critical Essay in Higher English – Wednesday 22 February in Edinburgh
• PDW in School Centre Partnerships Offering SQA Provision – Tuesday 28 February in Glasgow
• Quality Network in National Qualification Administration – Friday 3 March in Glasgow
• PDW in Critical Essay in Higher English – Saturday 4 March in Glasgow
• PDW in Appeals Exemplification in Higher English – Wednesday 15 March in Glasgow
• PDW in Assessment and Portfolio Building in an SVQ Programme – Tuesday 21 March in Dalkeith

If any of these workshops would help with your Continuing Professional Development, or the Quality Network would be of interest to you, please click on the links below for more information and our registration form. Alternatively, call our Customer Contact Centre on 0845 279 1000.

» Click here to register your place. Remember places are limited.

Qualification Design Chairpersons Event An event for chairs of Qualification Design Teams will take place on Tuesday, 21 March at the Jury's Hotel, Jamaica St, Glasgow, from 10am to 4pm.

The event is aimed at those who will be chairing Qualification Design Teams for Higher National Qualifications, but it would also be of interest to others involved in developing qualifications.

If you are interested in attending, please contact your SQA Co-ordinator.
Enjoyed the e-zine? Please let your colleagues know and ask them to register.

» Register free today.

History of Scotland's Higher National qualifications: the 1940s To mark the 80th anniversary of Higher National qualifications, we continue a series of historical snippets through the decades.

In the decade that the NHS was formed and the country went through a war and recovery period, Scotland slowly started to move away from its industrial heritage of traditional industries such as coal mining, ship building, heavy engineering and steel making.

To encourage engineering and manufacturing industries after the war, the Ministry of Labour and National Service actively promoted intensive National Certificate courses in Mechanical Engineering for ex-servicemen.

College day-release classes were also introduced to apprentices and they tended to gain a higher percentage of awards than those attending evening classes. The numbers of HNC candidates on day-release increased steeply over the last three years of the decade, despite opposition from smaller companies who favoured evening classes.

2006 National Qualifications Examinations Timetable The 2006 NQ Examination Timetable is now available to download.

Please note: The examination timetable was amended on 18 January 2006 to correct the time for the Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies Intermediate 2 (Old) examination.

» Download the timetable.

Online Shop coming soon We are pleased to announce the imminent launch of our new e-shop, which will enable you to order and receive publications, such as Past Papers, electronically through our website.

More detailed information about this valuable new resource will feature in future issues.

PC Passport Success Learndirect Scotland have issued a table of their most popular courses in Scotland in 2005, and PC Passport for beginners sits at number two on the list.

In 2005, Learndirect offered over 100,000 learning opportunities through almost 1300 providers.

There were a number of SQA qualifications in the top 10, including Social Care and English, as well as Large Goods Vehicle Driving Courses.

» Find out more.
Click here to view the National Qualifications section of SQA's website. Click here to view the Higher National section of SQA's website.