Changes to National Qualifications

30 September 2016

SQA has started to plan and assess how the overall design, operational, and systems requirements will be delivered, now that the Deputy First Minister has announced that the changes to National Courses have been agreed by the Curriculum for Excellence Management Board.

Unit assessments for National 5, Higher, and Advanced Higher will be removed and will no longer be a requirement to achieve an overall course award. Course assessment will therefore be strengthened. The changes will be implemented for National 5 in the 2017/18 session, for Higher in the 2018/19 session, and for Advanced Higher in the 2019/20 session.

We have started to review how each course is assessed, and will consider whether an exam and/or coursework needs to be introduced or strengthened, to ensure they assess the full content of the course.

Reviews will be carried out on a subject-by-subject basis. The aims, rationale, and content of the courses will not be changing. The notional length of time required for candidates to complete each of the courses will remain at 160 hours.

We have started to review National 5 qualifications to ensure their continuing integrity in terms of the validity, reliability, practicability and equity of the course assessment, and how these need to be strengthened and/or modified. We will release details in time for the start of the 2017-18 academic session. We will publish revised course arrangement documents, and revised specimen question papers, where required. All existing unit assessment support packs will still remain available for teachers and lecturers to use as a resource. In addition, the units which were part of the course will still be available as free standing units, for learners who require them.

We remain committed to the continued implementation of the National Qualifications and to maintaining their integrity and credibility. We will continue to work with local authorities, schools, colleges, partners, and teaching unions to ensure the standards and credibility of the qualifications are maintained during this revision of the course assessments.

Further details of the Deputy First Minister's announcement, are available here.