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

Monday, 9 January 2006
Issue 3

Chief Executive's Welcome

PHOTO: Anton Colella, Chief Executive, Scottish Qualifications Authority.Firstly, I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year and to take the opportunity to look back on some of the achievements of 2005. These include the very successful Customer Conference in May, and the professional delivery of candidates' results throughout the year and particularly in August. We have also made great advances in e-assessment and ICT qualifications.

We look forward to working with you to develop and advance Scottish education, and 2006 will present us with the opportunity to do this with a number of exciting initiatives and events. These initiatives include hosting an International Conference for Chief Executives and Directors of Awarding and Curriculum Bodies, as part of a collaborative venture with the Victoria Qualifications Authority (Melbourne) and Board of Studies, New South Wales. The conference will take place in October.

We will be launching the new Scottish Qualifications Certificate, continuing our work on the Skills for Work pilot, and modernising Higher National Qualifications in this, their 80th year.

We will be moving into new offices in Glasgow, The Optima Building, where our neighbours will be Learning and Teaching Scotland. More details will feature in future issues.

Anton Colella

Potential Cluster Awards

You may have had candidates entered for an award at Intermediate 1 who failed to pass the external examination in 2005, but who could potentially be eligible for the award at Access 3 level (cluster). This can only apply in cases where there is a hierarchical Unit structure between Intermediate 1 and Access 3, and all the Units at Intermediate 1 have been resulted as 'pass'.

To identify any candidates this might apply to, go to the Full Centre Details screen in Navigator (your centre's SQA Co-ordinator will have access to Navigator):

- choose 'Entries Data Reports'
- select the option 'Certificated Entries' and input the date range 01 08 2005 to 31 08 2005.
- run the report then select 'open'.

This will return an Excel worksheet. The simplest way to identify candidates is to use Microsoft Excel's data auto-filter facility. We would suggest that you use the custom filter option in Excel to choose:

- entry codes beginning with 'C'
- level equals '10'
- result equals '8' or '9'

Candidates identified may be eligible for a cluster award at Access 3 level. If you do submit a cluster entry, please use your normal submission method. If appropriate, the candidates will be certificated for the Access 3 cluster.

Customer Satisfaction Survey

Your satisfaction is very important to us. We want to provide the highest possible standard of service to all our customers.

We would like your help in identifying where we fully meet your needs and also where you would like to see improvements.

To be accurate and impartial this process needs to be carried out in a professional and objective manner. We have therefore appointed The Leadership Factor, an agency which specialises in this work, to carry out the exercise on our behalf. The Leadership Factor will be contacting Co-ordinators in all centres soon with further details.

Responses will be treated in confidence by The Leadership Factor - we will receive only an overall summary of the results of the interviews. After the survey, we will provide you with a summary of the results and will keep you informed about any actions we plan to take as a result of the findings.

We regard this initiative as a very important step in our aim of continually improving the level of service we provide to all our customers and would like to thank you in advance for your help and support.

Higher National Modernisation: Update for Consortium Developments

We have now validated 71 out of 144 consortium developments, 62 of which have arrangements documents posted on the website. 40 developments are due to validate in the first part of 2006, including ten which are waiting for the lifting of conditions. A further 16 are due to validate later in the year, taking us to 127 (88%) at the end of June.

Twelve awards are currently scheduled to validate in December 2006. If any of these have conditions set, we would miss the key 31 December 2006 milestone date, so we are planning to bring these for validation earlier.

84% of the developments started early or on time, and a further 3% within three months of the plan. Of the validations, 37% were early or on time and 44% were within three months of the plan (many of these came forward for validation on time, but had conditions set).

There is a net loss of 31 specialist single-centre developments, as many centres opted to join collaborations or to go with consortium developments.

New Higher National Qualifications in Music, Music Business and Sound Production

A joint collaboration between the SQA and Scottish colleges has led to the creation of national qualifications unique in the UK. This partnership has seen the production of national frameworks for Music, Music Business and Sound Production Higher National Certificate and Diploma awards. These will be officially launched next week.

The HNC and 1st year HND awards share a common core across each of the three frameworks, with a large number of options in each of the individual frameworks. This was a prime factor in the development and allows flexibility for each delivering centre to take into account local variations and specialisms.

The target group for these new awards is people with an ability and interest in music, music business or sound production and who wish to pursue one or more of these areas as a career. A central focus of the design team, when designing these awards, was to ensure that, once studies are complete, candidates are equipped to take up the challenges and opportunities afforded in their chosen profession.

Throughout their development, extensive consultation took place. This was with relevant industry organisations and practitioners as well as Higher Education Institutions offering related courses where articulation issues were addressed. Consultation will be ongoing to ensure that these awards are fit for purpose.

Appeals 2005

The processing of appeals is now complete and a full report will be available soon.

Some of the headlines are:

- The total number of appeals in 2005 was 43,162 - a decrease of 2,515 from 2004. This is a continuation of the decline in appeals since 2002.
- The appeals success rate across all qualification levels has decreased this year by 2.4 percentage points, down to a similar level to 2003.
- Between 2004 and 2005, the appeals success rate rose at both Intermediate 1 and Intermediate 2. However, at Advanced Higher, Higher and Standard Grade these rates have decreased.

e-Assessment - Improving Learning Conference We are hosting the e-Assessment - Improving Learning Conference, a free event aimed at college managers, heads of departments and lecturers who are keen to use
e-assessment to promote effective learning. The conference takes place on Wednesday 25 January at the Hilton Hotel, Glasgow.

The event will provide an opportunity to find out more about a number of e-assessment projects. One of the keynote presentations will be given by Denise Whitelock of the Open University who is leading a project gathering examples of best practice in innovative use of e-assessment in further education.

Invitations have already been sent to colleges, so please speak to your Co-ordinator for more information.

New Professional Development Directory, January to June 2006 Our new corporate Professional Development Directory for January through to June 2006 is now available.

The Professional Development Directory has Professional Development Workshops, Quality Networks and customer events for all our customers' needs, and features many new programmes. January features our new Assessor and Verifier Workshops as well as Workshops in Quality Assurance for Schools.

If you want to register your place, click here. Remember places are limited.
Enjoyed the e-zine ? Please let your colleagues know and ask them to register.

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History of Scotland's Higher National Qualifications: the 1930s To mark the 80th anniversary of Higher National Qualifications, we continue a series of historical snippets through the decades.

From modest but hopeful beginnings in the previous decade, the 1930s proved positive for Higher National Qualifications as they began to expand the subjects available, attracting the attention of more candidates.

The constant, underlying theme of developing, refining and offering new and relevant HNs to meet the needs of employers was as evident in the 1930s as it is today. For example, Sugar Technology was introduced in direct response to the rise of sugar refining on Clydeside.

In 1934 Dundee College of Art and Technology awarded their first HNDs.

Centre Updates We aim to be a responsive, customer focused organisation providing a friendly and efficient service.

To achieve this, we need up-to-date contact information for certain members of staff in your centre. Please keep us updated.

» Complete the online update form. gets 500th school signed up There are now 500 schools signed up and using, our Data Management software system. In total there are over 1,000 centres using it. If your centre has not already signed up, or has but is not yet using the system to transfer registration, entries and results files, please contact your Customer Account Manager to find out how to make the best use of this great resource.
Your Coursework 2006 Your Coursework 2006 is a guide for candidates detailing what must and must not be done before submitting coursework.
This informative guide is now available to download.

» Download the guide.

Learning and Teaching Scotland's Online Support for New Teachers Learning and Teaching Scotland's website includes a 'Support for New Teachers' section, which includes top tips and an e-mail bulletin information service.

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