Establishing the need

The success of any qualification depends on its relevance to learners, teachers, employers and any associated market requirements. All SQA provision should be part of a balanced portfolio that is inclusive, addresses progression needs and reflects Scotland’s educational, economic, social and cultural needs. SQA qualifications should have sufficient uptake to sustain a meaningful national standard and should, wherever possible, generate sufficient revenue to recover development and on-going maintenance costs.

Consulting stakeholders

You should start with initial research to establish stakeholder needs. You should access existing market research at national level and research taken from more local sources. It is important that a broad spectrum of stakeholders are involved in this consultation.

The proposed Group Award should be given a working title at this point. Note that the title should be unique and distinct from any other in SQA’s qualification portfolio.

The information sources consulted are likely to include:

  • current and former candidates
  • staff
  • advisory groups
  • reports from central or local government or government agencies
  • employment bodies, former National Training Organisations and Sector Skills Councils (SSCs)
  • employers both local and national
  • professional institutes
  • training agencies and employment agencies
  • reports from other awarding bodies
  • HEI and universities (including QAA Subject Benchmarks)
  • FutureSkills Scotland
  • National Occupational Standards

Centres may already hold significant information from candidate and employer evaluations, Course Teams etc, which could also be used as evidence of consultation.

Consultation would usually include feedback on:

  • the working title of the Group Award
  • the aims of the Group Award — both general and specific
  • the existing Group Award (if appropriate)
  • working titles of any proposed new Units
  • the proposed content of all Units
  • the balance of Units in particular subject areas within the Group Award
  • the mandatory/optional structure
  • the Core Skills development strategy
  • the strategy and rationale for the Graded Units (HNC/Ds only)

A generic consultation questionnaire (51 KB) for market research which can be adapted to suit your needs is included in download section.

National Occupational Standards (NOS)

A crucial aspect of ensuring that a qualification is relevant to the occupational sector it serves, is to take into account the recognised professional standards for the sector or industry.

Professional and occupational standards can be found in the National Occupational Standards for a sector or industry, or in the standards set by a Standard Setting Body.

There is guidance on these in Using National Occupational Standards in the development of SQA Group Awards (667 KB).

It is important that you identify any relevant National Occupational Standards or professional standards at an early stage of development.

This will inform the work of the Qualification Design Team in shaping the qualification, and will also provide a basis for Unit development, if you need to write Units.

Section 5.2 in the Group Award specification is designed to help the Qualification Design Team map links with National Occupational Standards and/or trade/professional body requirements (304 KB).

Identifying potential partner colleges

To ensure best use of resources, avoid duplication of effort and proliferation of Units/Group Awards consideration should be given to possible collaboration with other centres in taking forward the development/revision. To find out details of SQA approved centres you should contact SQA’s Customer Contact Centre.

Notifying SQA of proposals

Once you decide to embark upon, or seek SQA approval for, the new development or review of the qualification, you should notify SQA’s Marketing Team using the Development Opportunity Form (DO/1) (68 KB)

The completed Development Opportunity Form will provide information for the SQA business case. You are required to provide detailed research and administrative information.

SQA will progress the Business Case through the various decision making groups. Feedback will be provided to the named lead centre contact on whether the proposal should proceed to development (Gateway 2). If the proposal is unsuccessful, SQA staff will contact the centre to discuss the decision.

Although SQA has given authority through quality contracts to some centres for validation of some types of Group Award, SQA will advise on whether the proposed development is unique or whether there is potential duplication or overlap with other proposed or current developments.

Where a Development Opportunity Form is submitted from a centre with devolved authority to validate a new or revised NC/NPA/HNC/D/PDA. SQA will create a Business Case and progress it to Gateway 2 for noting.