Our National Qualifications in English enable learners to listen, talk, read and write appropriately for different purposes, audiences and contexts. These Courses provide learners with the opportunity to analyse and evaluate texts in the contexts of literature, language and media, to develop an understanding of the complexities of language, and to develop analytical thinking and understanding of the impact of language.
Available at the following levels:
English common questions
- English common questions (279 KB)
Updates and announcements
- October 2016 subject update (228 KB)
- May 2016 subject update (189 KB)
- October 2015 subject update (200 KB)
- August 2015 subject update (National 3 - Higher) (93 KB)
- May 2015 subject update (159 KB)
- January 2015 subject update (Advanced Higher) (239 KB)
- September 2014 subject update (330 KB)
- Special Edition Update June 2014 (152 KB)
- September 2013 update letter (177 KB)
Changes to assessment in National Courses
Following the Deputy First Minister’s announcement that units and unit assessments will be removed from National 5 to Advanced Higher courses, we are strengthening the course assessment to ensure it covers the full content of the course.
Units and unit assessments will be removed as followed:
- National 5 from 2017–18
- Higher from 2018–19
- Advanced Higher from 2019–20
Information for teachers has been posted on the National 5 English subject page.
Write Times 2 - Celebrating excellence in candidate writing
2018 will be Scotland’s Year of Young People – celebrating the achievements of young people in Scotland, including their talent and contribution to Scottish culture and arts. To coincide with this, SQA will be publishing Write Times 2 – an anthology of the best examples of writing in SQA assessments. Write Times 2 is a follow-up to our original publication, Write Times, which was published ten years ago in 2007. It will be published as an e-book which can be downloaded for free.
The publication will feature examples of candidate writing that demonstrate excellence and reflect the wide range of forms that writing can take, including poetry, drama, prose, fiction and prose non-fiction (reporting, reflection and discussion). These examples will be chosen for their creativity, sensitivity of expression, depth of thought and perception and their imaginative and skillful use of language.SQA will select examples of candidate writing from National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher English portfolios submitted as part of the 2017 exam diet.
We also invite you to submit examples of internally-assessed candidate writing from National 3, National 4 and Higher National (HN) courses. Submissions should be sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 30 June 2017. They will then be reviewed by a panel from SQA who will select the final pieces for the publication.
Set list of Scottish texts
The Scottish set text list has been compiled to reflect Scotland's rich culture and heritage and it includes a breadth of themes. In compiling the list, we took account of the extensive feedback received through engagement with practitioners, as well as other key stakeholder groups. A central consideration for us, when selecting the texts to be included on the list, was the suitability of the texts for assessment purposes.
We took the following steps to arrive at the current list of Scottish texts:
- We used an online questionnaire:
- During the 2011/2012 exam diet, the team of examiners was asked to draw up a list of Scottish texts commonly answered on by candidates in the previous Intermediate 1 and Intermediate 2 English exams.
- The Qualification Design Team (QDT) for English, which consisted of Principal Teachers and Faculty Heads of English, as well as other key stakeholder representatives, commented on the suggested list and also discussed a list submitted by the Association of Scottish Literary Studies (ASLS) nominated representative on the QDT.
- As a result of these discussions, we further increased the number of titles in each genre (drama, prose poetry) to include a wide representation of both established and more recent Scottish writers.
- Between September – November 2012 we used an external consultancy agency (Ashbrook Research and Consultancy) to independently gather practitioners’ views. There were two parts to this consultation:
- A web based consultation* on which texts should be used (which included providing the opportunity for respondents to make additional suggestions).
- This was followed by practitioner focus groups (x8) which looked at the outcomes of the web consultation and associated issues.
* All centres were notified of the consultation in advance of it being carried out. As well as commenting on a suggested list of texts, respondents were given the opportunity to suggest Scottish texts they thought should be included.
- Ashbrook then presented their findings to a Special Joint Curriculum Area Review Group/Qualification Design Team Meeting. Read the Ashbrook report (1.07 MB).
- At the English Implementation Events which took place across the country in November and December, practitioners received a draft list of Scottish texts for National 5 and Higher for information and feedback. The feedback from practitioners at the events were the need for a wider list of novels and more ‘crossover’ texts to facilitate bi-level teaching.
- Detailed work was undertaken by an SQA English Subject Working Group (SWG) to finalise the list of set Scottish texts (in the categories of prose, drama and poetry). The SWG had been tasked to look at the suitability of texts for assessment, to consider overlap between National 5 and Higher, and to finalise the list. The SWG also looked across the list for National 5 and Higher English to ensure there is a balance of familiar, established texts as well as texts which are more recent. The SWG consisted of current practitioners (from schools and colleges) and SQA examiners.
2016 consultation on the set list of Scottish texts
In 2016, we carried out a consultation with teachers and other key stakeholders on the refresh of the Scottish set text list for National 5 and Higher English. Based on the findings of this consultation, we have now published a refreshed set text list for implementation in session 2018-19. This is a minor refresh, which provides opportunities for new texts to be studied, while also ensuring a minimal impact on resources.
Scottish set text list 2018-19 (40 KB)
The following report details the findings of our consultation and provides more information on how we gathered the views of teachers and stakeholders.