Welcome and NQGA Development Programme – Annual Report

PHOTO: Gill StewartOn behalf of SQA, Gill Stewart welcomed the delegates to the second annual NQGA conference and noted that there were many representatives from schools, colleges, employers and training providers as well as from other organisations and groups. 

Gill explained the aims of the conference which included:


In introducing the sessions, Gill expressed the hope that the aims of the conference would be fulfilled.

  Gill noted that the past ten years have seen a significant development in school based qualifications and our Higher National qualifications. These developments have enhanced the skills and knowledge of a wider range of Scots - preparing them for economic contribution in the workplace or progression to gaining higher level skills and knowledge in further and higher education.  She explained that more needs to be done to review, revise and remodel existing qualifications that fall between the school curriculum and Higher National qualifications so that there were mid-range qualifications at SCQF levels 2-6 which would provide job specific skills as well as the underpinning 'softer skills' that employers are looking for and that make a person an effective employee.

To date, in partnership with other key partners, SQA has already moved to modernise the design of National Certificates and create a framework for smaller, new National Progression Awards which provide progression route from the least advanced levels into employment and Higher National Certificates/ Diplomas and other higher education awards. These higher levels are where a significantly higher percentage of Scotland's people will need to be if the Scottish economy is to remain competitive in the future. Gill stated that 5 National Certificates and 58 National Progression Awards have been developed and are now available for centres to offer.

In addition, a range of standalone National Units have been identified from these two types of qualifications that will be available to learners in Scotland's schools and in employment for up-skilling in a particular area or context. Guidance on the development of National Units has also been revised to ensure a more effective and reliable approach to assessment.

Gill explained that in order to meet the priority objective of creating the qualifications that Scotland needs, a business case was submitted, in December to the Scottish Government for funding to allow SQA to continue this work with its partners across Scotland. This business case develops a rationale for investment over a three year period in a product range that is essential to Scotland, her people and our sustained economic growth. Government support is vital to meet our shared objectives. This additional investment will support the release of subject experts to come together and speedily write and develop the new qualifications. This needs to be done within a quality assured process, co-ordinated nationally and aimed at making regular updating for the future a sustainable process.

Gill said that matched funding had been sought from Europe that will significantly increase the value of Scotland's investment and support teaching professionals in the delivery and assessment of qualifications.

Dependent on the success of the business case, SQA's plans for the next 3 years are to develop, in partnership, a further 57 National Certificates and 62 National Progression Awards.

Gill concluded by stating that Scotland needs investment in skills and knowledge to compete as a global player. SQA, working in partnership with Scotland's Colleges and others, can deliver this. She noted that SQA is ambitious for Scotland and is determined to play a full and committed part in ensuring that the Scottish people and economy benefit from a qualifications and skills system that is all embracing in delivering and meeting Scotland's needs