Digital Literacy

SQA is one of the signatories of the Scottish Government’s Digital Participation Charter. The Charter outlines how partners will work together over the course of the Parliament to share information and resources in order to meet the outcomes - improved accessibility, inclusion and skills for all people living in Scotland.

To support our commitment to Scottish Government’s strategic ambitions for a digital nation by 2020, SQA has put in place a dedicated team to engage with relevant stakeholders, promote digital literacy activities within the organisation, and support the aims of our Corporate and Social Responsibility agenda.

Digital Skills

Developing digital literacies within SQA is key to providing staff with the skills and confidence they need to use technology autonomously and collaboratively, not only to support their work but also in their communities and daily lives.  Whilst most of the organisation may meet basic measures of digital literacy, SQA staff should have the opportunity to become digitally fluent and to help others achieve basic digital skills.

One of the first tasks of the Digital Literacy and Enhancement team was to create an online digital skills audit survey tool for staff. The survey established the existing digital skills levels and identified where there were skills gaps and where there were high levels of competence in using digital technologies effectively. The survey was confidential and not mandatory however the response was fantastic with over 530 completing it and several registrations of interest in getting involved in digital ‘volunteering’ activities - those willing to contribute to SQA’s Corporate and Social Responsibility strategy, working in partnership with other stakeholders to help reach people who have little or no digital skills and therefore at risk of further economic disadvantage.

The analysis of resulting data also provided information for SQA’s Occupational Development Department to create an ongoing training and development programme to meet specific needs.

Digital Volunteering

SQA has a well-developed volunteering programme for staff and a wide range of activities they can engage in. Adding a digital dimension to our Corporate and Social Responsibility strategy is an ongoing remit for the Digital Literacy team and a very exciting part of our ongoing work. In partnership with The Wheatley Group, SQA digital volunteers are working with Wheatley environmental and community project staff helping them to develop the digital skills needed for both work and personal use. Our digital volunteers provide one to one help and advice to individuals with dedicated one to one support sessions, every 2 weeks on an ongoing basis to help the individuals develop the skills and confidence needed to become digital citizens.

The digital volunteering project has been running successfully in Glasgow for over a year, and this model will now be adopted by our SQA colleagues in the Edinburgh and Lothians areas within the next few months, supporting staff from the Wheatley Group's many subsidiary organisations, including care, facilities and housing support workers.

Digital inclusion is defined as ‘…an individual’s effective and sustainable engagement with Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in ways that allow full participation in society in terms of economic, social, cultural, civic and personal well-being’ (Helsper, 2014). Volunteering is seen as a cost-effective means of achieving widespread digital inclusion among targeted groups. Various forms of voluntary participation to combat digital and social exclusion are part of a broader effort of the Charter signatories to build a digital information society for all.

Digital Learning Guides

The guides are free to use and can be found on our SQA Academy site. There is no log-in or registration required, and no password needed. Some of the guides have PDF paper versions which can be downloaded; there are also some digital FAQs and a Glossary of terms to support the guides.

We were shortlisted for two presigitous awards in 2016:

  • The Holyrood Connect ICT Awards: shortlisted for the Connect Citizen award
  • The Business in the Community Scotland - Responsible Business Awards: shortlisted for the Closing the Education Gap award

Unfortunately we didn't win, but we were pleased and proud to be shortlisted from over 500 nominations, a great achievement considering the Digital Literacy Learning Guides were only launched in March 2016.

More information and photos from the Awards can be found on our Digital Literacy team blog.

Past events

Learning Guides event

Held on Wednesday 30 March 2016

SQA produced a suite of learner guides for people who need help getting online for the first time or who are not confident in participating in everyday online activities. Our guides are freely available from SQA Academy.

Target audience

  • Individual users of digital resources for training purposes
  • Teachers, trainers and volunteers with responsibility for increasing levels of digital literacy skills and participation
  • Agency representatives with an interest in promoting the take-up of digital and social media literacy materials for teaching and learning
  • Industry representatives with an interest in the development and training of workers in all sectors
  • Policy-planners and decision-makers responsible for promoting digital and media literacy generally amongst the workforce




Colin Cook, Scottish Government (Head of Digital Public Services and Business Transformation)

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Colin Cook heads the Digital Public Services and Business Transformation Division of Scottish Government. This includes the Digital Transformation Service which provides shared digital services across central Scottish Government and the newly formed National Ecosystems Unit which drives organisational change through the introduction of digital technology. Colin previously headed Scottish Government’s digital connectivity, economy and participation division and worked with local Government and HIE on the roll out of next generation broadband.

Colin’s previous roles include Marketing Director, British Army, where he introduced an award winning online recruiting process and both Marketing Director and Service Specification Director of Royal Mail’s core Letters Business. Colin is a trustee of The Poppy Factory, a charity dedicated to helping wounded, sick and disabled ex-service people back into work. A regular speaker on digital and marketing issues, Colin has been listed as one of the UK’s country’s top 100 digital leaders for the past two years.

David McNeill, Director of SCVO

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David joined SCVO in March 2016 as Digital Director to lead SCVO's ambitious programme to promote digital participation and basic digital skills throughout Scotland's communities and within Scotland's third sector.

Before joining SCVO David was Depute Chief Executive at Young Scot, where he led the development of services provided through the Young Scot National Entitlement Card, now carried by over 60% of young people in Scotland aged 12-25.

Previously, David was a Senior Consultant with Rocket Science UK and worked on a range of projects across the public and third sectors related to youth issues, health improvement and employability.

Graeme Hamilton, Wheatley Group (Innovation and Online Services Manager)

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A long-serving housing professional working initially for Glasgow City Council and then, after TUPE transfer, the Glasgow Housing Association (GHA), Graeme was tasked in late 2012 to review the business approach to digital inclusion of the Wheatley Housing Group’s 40,000 social rented tenancies.

Graeme has worked in a range of roles in the housing sector over the past 30 years - local housing management, organisational development, IT contracts management and now in a roving internal project management role.

Graeme has a post graduate degree in Human Resource Management and is an author of two books, including a case study of business change within Glasgow Housing Association using Systems Thinking.

Amongst his many projects, Graeme was a key contributor to the Group’s development of a CRM platform, of introducing online housing services to customers and in 2016 he is a driving force in the development and deployment of a mobile solution for housing officers and new content management systems for each of the Group’s subsidiary companies. Graeme has a desire to help every employee of the group develop themselves with sufficient digital skills both for work and for home.

Alastair MacGregor, SQA (Head of STEM)

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Alastair MacGregor is Head of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics within Qualification Development Directorate, SQA. SQA is a signatory to the Scottish Governments Digital Participation Charter and the responsibilities of the Charter fall under the STEM Business area. As part of our commitment to the Charter, Alastair progressed the appointment of a Digital Participation and Engagement Manager and Officer to progress the Charter obligations. The development of the Digital Learner Guides is one of the strands of activity that Alastair has been keen to see being developed as part of SQAs commitment to working with the wider community to encourage digital participation and promote digital inclusion

Hilary Weir, SQA (Digital Literacy & Engagement Manager)

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Hilary is Digital Literacy and Enhancement Manager at SQA. She has worked in STEM Qualifications Directorate for over six years developing digital media and technology qualifications and has previous experience in education as a Media Studies teacher. Prior to teaching Hilary worked in the creative industries as a production manager on film, theatre and television projects.

Liz Sinclair, SQA (Digital Literacy & Engagement Officer)

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Liz has worked at SQA for 11 years in Qualifications Development, within various teams in both NQ and HN. She previously worked for Lauder College for 15 years and held various roles including lecturing in Business and Administration, staff training, internal and external course development and Additional Support Needs. Liz also worked with Falkirk Council in their Training and Development department for 2 years supporting young people entering the workplace for the first time.

She has been involved in volunteering work for over 20 years, most recently with the Wheatley Group digital volunteering project through SQA; and was a volunteer for Bield Housing organising and running entertainment for their sheltered housing residents in Bo'ness. Liz also worked with the Youth of Grangemouth Initiative (YOGI) group supporting marginalised young people by providing safe space, counselling, support and tuition on a voluntary basis.

Malcolm Allan & Peter Healy, Wheatley Group (Community Janitors)

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