Higher ESOL

Higher ESOL

This Course is valid from August 2014.

The Higher ESOL Course develops the skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking, in order to understand and use English for learners whose first language is not English. As learners develop their language skills, they will be able to process information more easily, apply knowledge of language in practical and relevant contexts, and gain confidence to undertake new and more challenging tasks in a variety of situations.

ESOL homepage

Updates and announcements

Notification of changes

13 June 2014

Higher Course Specifications, Unit Specifications and Course Assessment Specifications have been updated in April and May 2014. To correspond with these updates, the Course and Unit Support Notes have been revised in June 2014 and now include illustrative language tables. The intention of these updates is to provide teachers and lecturers with further information and clarification.

Based on on-going consultation and dialogue with practitioners, SQA has decided to amend the Unit Specifications and Unit assessment support packages for ESOL. Changes have been made to Assessment Standards across all four Outcomes in all Units, and all documents have been revised accordingly as part of the April/May 2014 planned updates.

  • In Outcome 1 and Outcome 3, ‘Explaining’ has been replaced by ‘Identifying’ in each Assessment Standard. The words ‘clearly expressed’ have been removed from Assessment Standard 1.3 and 3.2.
  • In Outcome 2, Assessment Standard 2.2 has changed from ‘Using grammar, spelling and punctuation sufficiently accurately to convey meaning’ to ‘Using grammar, spelling and punctuation to convey meaning effectively’.
  • In Outcome 4, Assessment Standard 4.2 has changed from ‘Communicating sufficiently accurately, coherently and fluently to convey meaning’ to ‘Communicating coherently and fluently to convey meaning effectively’.

A detailed list of the changes is available on the notification of changes spreadsheet.

Guidance on the use of past paper questions

29 May 2014

We have produced a support document to help teachers and lecturers identify suitable past paper questions/items that could be used, or amended, to support learners in their preparation for sitting Higher question papers.

The advice reflects questions selected from 2011 to 2013 past papers.

The document is available under the Specimen question paper and marking instructions heading.

Qualification content and delivery tools

The documents on this page are for teachers and lecturers.

Learners studying this qualification may also find the documents useful.

The 'Related information' panel on this page contains information that applies to all new National Qualifications in this subject.

Mandatory information

Course Specification

This explains the overall structure of the Course, including its purpose and aims and information on the skills, knowledge and understanding that will be developed.

The comparative document above clearly illustrates the additional information provided in the updated Course Specification compared with the version published in April 2012.

Course Assessment Specification

This explains the structure of the Course assessment; including the type and method of assessment. It also includes information on Course coverage.

The comparative document above clearly illustrates the additional information provided in the updated Course Assessment Specification (following development of the Specimen Question Paper and Coursework) compared with the version published in April 2012.

Unit Specifications

These provide an outline of what each Unit will cover within the Course and detail the Outcomes and Assessment Standards.

Advice and guidance

Course and Unit Support Notes

These provide advice and guidance for teachers/lecturers on learning, teaching and assessment within the Course and its Units.

The following document contains the Course Support Notes and the Unit Support Notes for this Course. They can be printed together or separately.

Assessment support

Past Papers and Marking Instructions

Specimen Question Paper and Marking Instructions

These illustrate the standard, structure and requirements of the question papers learners will sit from session 2013-14. These also include marking instructions.



Coursework information

General assessment information provides instructions for the conduct of coursework, an overview of the assessment task, evidence to be gathered and general marking instructions.

Coursework assessment tasks provide the live assessment task, including marking instructions and instructions for candidates. Teachers/lecturers can access these confidential documents through their SQA Co-ordinator.

Unit Assessment Support

These documents contain details of Unit assessment task(s), show approaches to gathering evidence and how the evidence can be judged against the Outcomes and Assessment Standards. Teachers/lecturers can arrange access to these confidential documents through their SQA Co-ordinator.


Verification and Course Reports