Arrangements for Higher Courses in 2015-16

09 October 2014

Towards the end of 2013, the Scottish Government confirmed that there could be scope for some local flexibility for schools in undertaking the new Higher, or retaining presentation in the existing Higher, in session 2014-15. This enables schools and local authorities to decide – in consultation with parents and candidates – which Higher qualifications to enter their candidates for this session. This means that S5 candidates in some schools may be entered for the existing Higher instead of the new Higher; for some or all of their subjects.

Session 2014-15 is the final session in which the existing Higher will run in centres; from August 2015, only the new Higher will be available. Any candidates wishing to undertake a Higher Course in 2015-16 will be required to follow the new Higher. Candidates who receive a ‘No Award’ result for an existing Higher Course in 2015 will therefore be unable to re-sit the Course assessment in 2016.

However, SQA is putting an arrangement in place to support these candidates, by including the existing Higher Units in the new Higher Course Frameworks with a finish date of 31 July 2016. Until this date, candidates who have passed all of the Units in an existing Higher Course, but not achieved the Course assessment, may have their Unit passes carried across to the new Higher Course. This means that they will only be required to complete the new Higher Course assessment in 2016. In all such cases, schools will need to consider the implications of this for the candidate.

This arrangement is also available in session 2014-15 for candidates who failed an existing Higher Course in the 2014 diet, but whose school is now offering new Higher Courses only.

SQA advice is that, in order to maximise their chances of success, candidates should complete the new Higher Course in full; including all Units and the Course assessment. However, it is for schools to decide whether or not to use this arrangement, based on the best interests of the candidate. Schools should consider the circumstances of the candidate as well as the differences between the new and existing Higher Courses.

If a school does decide to use this arrangement and carry a candidate’s complete set of Unit passes across, they will need to enter the candidate for the new Higher Course. The candidate will then be required to complete all components of the new Higher Course assessment, including any coursework. The school must also ensure that the candidate is sufficiently prepared for the new style of assessment, along with any changes to content coverage and skills, through appropriate learning, teaching and assessment. The level of change varies significantly between subjects, so schools are advised to consult the Higher Course comparison documents on the subject pages of our website. These documents offer some advice on the changes and similarities between the new and existing Higher Courses.

Please note that this arrangement only applies to subjects that are available as new Higher Courses. There can be no such provision for the following Higher Courses, which are not being replaced: