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Connecting With SQA - SQA's Monthly E-zine.

25 January 2008
Issue 23


Happy New Year

PHOTO: Dr Janet BrownHappy New Year. Welcome to our first Connecting with SQA e-zine of 2008. Already it’s shaping up to be a busy year – developing the Scottish Standard, launching our National Courses in Chinese, My SQA coming online to give candidates access to their results, our Star Awards in October and an Art Exhibition at the Scottish Parliament are a few highlights, make sure you keep in touch with all our news in the e-zine.

The feedback you have given us about the e-zine is really positive and we’re glad you enjoy reading it – please pass it on to colleagues! We look forward to continuing to connect with you in 2008.

Best wishes,

Janet Brown
Chief Executive

2007 National Qualification Appeals

LOGO: RIS Statistics
The National Qualification Appeals Information for Standard Grades and National Courses in 2007 have now been published.

A few of the headlines are:

While it appears that there is no single dominant reason for appeals being unsuccessful it is noticeable that in some subjects centres are basing their estimate on what they think the candidate will achieve in the national examination rather than on demonstrated evidence of attainment.

A significant number of appeals are still being submitted with incomplete or missing evidence and many are still being submitted late.

Full details of the 2007 Appeals are available from the Key Messages document on our website which contains summary information regarding the 2007 diet, showing comparisons with 2006.

Analysis tables which include appeals trend information in Microsoft Excel format as a percentage of entries, percentage of successful appeals, and percentage of unsuccessful appeals are also available here.

Following these findings, we are committed to reviewing our procedures and improving the appeals system and have put in place a number of initiatives to take this forward. These include tightening up on our procedures for late submissions by no longer chasing missing or incomplete evidence, as this is the centre's responsibility.

We are also running a number of events to give you feedback from the appeals process and to enhance your understanding of standards.

1. Estimates and Assessment Appeals

These events will provide the opportunity for you to consider:

These events are scheduled to take place early in 2008 at four venues across Scotland and are aimed at key members of teaching staff involved in teaching National Courses, eg Depute Headteacher or Principal Teacher.





29 January 2008

1.30 pm - 4.30 pm


30 January 2008

10 am - 1 pm


7 February 2008

1.30 pm - 4.30 pm


13 February 2008

1.30 pm - 4.30 pm

Stirling *

14 February 2008

10 am - 1 pm

* This event is aimed specifically at college lecturers

2. Estimates and Assessment Appeals in Higher English

These events will provide the opportunity for key staff involved in teaching Higher English, eg Principal Teachers or Senior Lecturers, to consider:

These morning events are scheduled to take place early in 2008 at four venues across Scotland.




19 Feb 2008


20 Feb 2008


25 Feb 2008


26 Feb 2008

For more information, or to reserve a place at one of the events, please contact your SQA Co-ordinator.

3. Scottish Council of Independent Schools

Separate events in Estimates and Assessment Appeals and Higher English are being organised in partnership with SQA by the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS).

Access the Appeals Analysis.

Estimates, Absentee Consideration and Appeals Interactive Toolkit

A new interactive toolkit has been developed to help subject specialists who are delivering National Courses understand the broad principles to be observed when using evidence for Estimates, Absentees and Appeals.

IMAGE: EAA web page

This innovative resource is now available online and contains:

The system can be accessed here.

E-assessment: Guide to Effective Practice

LOGO: e-assessment
The four organisations which regulate qualifications in the UK – the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), DCELLS (Wales), CCEA (Northern Ireland) and SQA – have collaborated to develop a publication, E-assessment: Guide to Effective Practice.

The guide has been produced predominately for colleges and training providers but it may also be of use to schools and Higher Education establishments and for awarding bodies. It covers two key aspects of e-assessment: the management and delivery of e-testing and the use of e-portfolios for assessment.

A limited number of paper copies of the guide are available free of charge – details of how to order a paper copy of a publication can be found in the Publications, Sales and Downloads section of our website.

Download the guide.

Services for Employers web pages

IMAGE: Services for Employers web pageThe latest addition to our website is the Services for Employers section, giving a direct link to our range of services, training qualifications and benefits available to employers and training providers. It is available at

We offer a wide range of qualifications and will use this area of the website to inform our customers of specific qualifications that may be of interest , such as those listed below.

Qualifications we offer to Employers and Training Providers include:

Services include:

Visit the Services for Employers section.

Top Food Technology student garners award

PHOTO: Nick Nairn, Beth Henry and Graeme FindlayScotland's top Health and Food Technology student had the opportunity to learn from one of the nation’s top chefs thanks to Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), the red meat industry body.

Beth Henry from Monifieth High School, Monifieth, Angus, was awarded the title of QMS Top Scottish Student in Higher Health and Food Technology by Scottish celebrity chef, Nick Nairn and SQA's Graeme Findlay.

The prize is a Scottish Cookery Class led by Nick Nairn at his cook school in Lake of Menteith for Beth and her teacher, and £500 for their school. 

Beth and her teacher learnt to cook a mouth-watering three course menu featuring scallops with oriental salad and sweet chilli dressing; peppered fillet of beef with whisky sauce and warm, soft chocolate rounds; with Nick giving a masterclass on how to cook the perfect steak.

Sixteen-year-old Beth is a keen cook and is continuing her studies in the Home Economics Dept, as well as widening her creativity by studying Higher Fashion Design this year.

Find out more.

Virtual Classroom Tours

IMAGE: Virtual Classroom Tours
Did you know that there is a new site with free teacher resources covering a wide range of curriculum areas and stage?

By visiting our website you can access a collection of Powerpoint presentations known as Virtual Classroom Tours (VCTs). Each VCT provides information about the successful adoption of ICT in teaching and learning by a classroom teacher.

These resources have been created by teachers participating in an SQA/Microsoft initiative, which supports teachers in sharing best practice in the use of ICT in the classroom.

Access the resources here, which have been tried and tested in the classroom. 

In each of the months of February, March, April, May and June a prize of £200 will be awarded by SQA/Microsoft Partners in Learning to someone who has visited the web site. To qualify for entry to the prize draw the visitor must use the website to submit a comment on the usefulness of these resources to their teaching.

Visit the Virtual Classroom.

Cardonald College hosts Euroskills competition

LOGO: Skillfast-UKCardonald College’s fashion department and students have a lot to celebrate after being selected to host the UK leg of the Europe-wide Euroskills competition.

The College hosted 10 teams from across the UK, including one from Cardonald College itself, who competed in the fashion production and development section of Euroskills from January 11-13 2008, with the overall winner gaining the right to represent the UK in the European finals in Rotterdam. Entrants were given a brief to design the essential cotton summer dress for Spring/Summer 2008.

Cardonald students David Vowels and Cara McAuleyTwo Cardonald College fashion design students, Cara MacAulay and David Vowles, were selected, along with teams from nine other educational institutions nationwide, by Skillfast-UK, the Sector Skills Council for fashion and textiles, to compete in the competition to represent the UK.

Skillsfast-UK was looking for a team with the ability and flair to represent the UK at the highest level and showcase tomorrow’s talent.

Alex McCluskey, Head of Arts, Humanities and Design Faculty at Cardonald College, said: 'It is a fantastic achievement that Cardonald College has been selected to host the UK leg of the Euroskills competition. We are delighted that the College has a first-rate reputation which enables us to host such a prestigious competition.'

Euroskills 2008 in Rotterdam will see hundreds of young professionals, students and graduates from 22 European countries, compete and demonstrate their skills in almost 30 typically European trades. This new innovative event will showcase European skills on an international platform and will consist of skills, competitions, demonstrations, interactive events and conferences.

Details of the winners of the UK leg of the competition will be announced in next month's e-zine.
LOGO: Worldskills UK

Find out more about Euroskills.

2008 Standard Grade Examinations in the Medium of Gaelic

In the 2008 exam diet we will provide the opportunity for candidates to undertake the following Standard Grade examinations in the medium of Gaelic:

Please forward the full name, date of birth, Scottish Candidate Number and presentation level(s) of all candidates for each of the above courses you wish to be assessed in the medium of Gaelic by Wednesday 30 January 2008 to:

James Morgan
Qualifications Co-ordinator: National Qualifications
Optima Building
58 Robertson Street
G2 8DQ

Telephone: 0845 213 5496

There is no need to respond if your centre does not intend to present candidates for assessment in the medium of Gaelic in diet 2008 or we have previously contacted you in relation to this.

Please do not hesitate to contact James Morgan should you require further information on this provision.

Skills for Work Uniformed and Emergency Services (Intermediate 1)

From August 2008 a new Skills for Work Course in Uniformed and Emergency Services (Intermediate 1) will be available.

To ensure that we can offer centres an appropriate level of support and resourcing, it would be beneficial if you could identify whether your centre is likely to present candidates for this award in session 2008/09.

If you are likely to present candidates, please send the name of your centre and SQA centre number to Mairi McKinley .

Please be assured that by sending these details you are not committing to presenting candidates. The details will only be used to gauge potential interest in this new Course.

Further details about the launch event in April will follow in due course.

Find out more about this new qualification.

New Internet Safety Skills Course Handbook from Leckie and Leckie

LOGO: Leckie and LeckieA new Course Handbook on Internet Safety Skills, that could be used  to support the Intermediate 1 Internet Safety qualification, is now available to purchase from Leckie and Leckie.

This resource provides excellent learning support for the Intermediate 1 Internet Safety course, and is ideal for all internet & email users as a reference tool for safe and responsible Internet use.

It provides complete coverage of all the topics in the Internet Safety course, addressing Knowledge and Understanding and Problem Solving elements and includes bespoke chapters covering useful topics for everyone using the Internet – from viruses, hackers, and identity theft to security, back-up solutions and the laws surrounding Internet use.

IMAGE: Internet Safety HandbookThis handbook:

The handbook is priced at RRP £5.99. Orders of 10-19 books receive a 10% discount, 20-99 receive 20% off, and orders of 100 books or more qualify for a fantastic 25% off the total price.

To request an inspection copy – or to place a firm order – simply call 0870 460 7662 or visit the Leckie and Leckie website.

Buy it now.

Introducing the Scottish Standard

IMAGE: Introducing the Scottish Standard leafletWe have a responsibility to individual learners and to the wider public to ensure that qualification standards are accurate and fair and are maintained from year to year and across qualifications.

We are bringing all of our standards work under the label of the Scottish Standard (a name you’ll hear more of over the coming months and years) because we want to explain clearly how we carrry out this important work on your behalf and to ensure continuing public confidence in our qualifications.

We think that the Scottish Standard provides a valuable focus to all of the good work being done.
You can find out more by going to the Scottish Standard web pages where you can download copies of the Scottish Standard leaflet and Development Programme 2007-2009.

We are also sending out a printed version of the leaflet to all our partners, stakeholders and centres. 

Access the Scottish Standard web pages.

Assessment Materials

As a result of your feedback, we are pleased to announce that all new Assessment Support Packs (ASPs) will be available on our secure website in both Word and pdf formats. We will provide Word versions of existing packs over the next couple of months.

In addition, any new or amended National Assessment Bank packs (NABs) will be available in both Word and pdf format and those already on the secure website will gradually have Word versions added. Please note that any changes you make to these assessment instruments may impact on their validity and we therefore advise major changes are submitted to us for prior verification.

We hope you will find these additional versions useful – please let us know what you think.

Arrangements for the 2008 National Qualifications Exams

Preparations are well underway for the 2008 diet of exams and over the next few months we will be writing to you with information and requests for information. Here are some dates for your diary:

For the listening exams, as well as our standard CD provision we will be increasing the provision of 25% extra time CDs to include:

A DVD for Physical Education including 25% extra time will also be available, together with a subtitled version for candidates who have additional support needs. If required, please request the subtitled version from Deborah Farmer.

We will be writing to you at the end of January with the CD and DVD request proformas. Please return these as soon as possible.

Question papers and associated materials for the 2008 exams will be delivered between Monday 21 April and Thursday 24 April. The number of question papers despatched to you is based on the number of candidate entries held on our system. (Please ensure all confirmation files received from us are checked carefully to ensure the information held is correct and complete.) The delivery will include an automatic allocation of extra papers required for use by scribes and readers and the majority of adapted and large print papers you have requested.

We will be writing to you and Chief Invigilators in February regarding the question paper deliveries. We are currently rolling out a programme of direct delivery and in this letter we will inform you and Chief Invigilators whether, based on the information that we hold, we intend to deliver to you or the Chief Invigilator.

Our secure website some guidelines

An increasing amount of material is being placed on our secure website, to make it easier for centres to access assessment and other secure documents.

Access to this website is via a password, supplied by our Web team, which is changed regularly. Passwords are only supplied to SQA Co-ordinators, who may then decide if it is appropriate to share the password with other key staff.

It is in all our interests to ensure the security of the website and its contents. We have highlighted below some guidelines to assist you.

Scottish Funding Council Skills Conference 2007

The first conference organised by the Scottish Funding Council’s Skills Committee, in collaboration with Futureskills Scotland and the Skills for Business Network, took place at the Radisson SAS Hotel in Glasgow on 1 October 2007.

Our Chief Executive Dr Janet Brown was among the keynote speakers addressing delegates gathered to discuss how to implement the Scottish Government’s Skills for Scotland: a lifelong skills strategy. The event was well attended, attracting 285 delegates who took part in workshop sessions and heard from a variety of speakers. Summaries of the workshop content can be viewed here.

The conference aimed to increase awareness of the work of the Skills Committee, allowing stakeholders the opportunity to engage directly with Committee members, and to bring together all those with an interest in skills, to review progress and identify ways forward.

The outcomes from the conference have already fed into the Skills Committee’s consideration of the Government’s Skills Strategy and will play a part in further development of the Scottish Funding Council’s policies in this area, details of which will shortly be available from the Council’s website.

Further information on the remit, membership and work of the Skills Committee can be found here.

Assessment Arrangements Request System

The deadline for submission of requests for adapted print question papers and question papers in digital format is 31 January 2008.

If you have not already done so it is essential that you submit your requests as soon as possible in order to ensure that our Assessment Materials team can produce all types of adapted questions papers in time for the examinations. If coloured question papers are required please remember to send a copy of the colour swatch to our Assessment Materials team.

Centres are reminded that requests for all other arrangements can be submitted and updated up to 18 April 2008. However, if requests could be submitted as soon as possible this will assist us in resolving any queries.

If you require any assistance please contact the Assessment Arrangements team on 0131 561 6890.

SVQs in Management

We are pleased to announce that our Accreditation Unit has approved the addition of nine new optional units within the SVQ Management awards. An update letter outlining these new Units has been issued to centres and a copy is available to download from our website.

If you wish to apply for approval to deliver any of these 9nine new optional Units, please complete and return the Form for Centre Approval of New SVQ Management Units on the website.  

The updated SVQ Management Qualification structures (including award and Unit codes) can also be found on our website. Please note that the evidence requirements for these new Units have been developed and will be added to our assessment guidance as soon as possible.

If you have any queries regarding these revisions, please contact Margo Sykes or Elaine Snell.

Access the SVQ Management subject page.

Recent work overseas

The Middle East

PHOTO: Speakers at Bahrain ConferenceOn 12 and 13 December 2007 the British Council Bahrain hosted a symposium entitled English for the Workplace: Policy and Practice for the Middle East.

It was the first symposium of its kind and was organised in the light of research indicating an urgent need for governments, educators and employers across the region to develop policies and initiatives to raise levels of English language competence. Over 100 such people attended. Day 1 focused on the view from the Corporate Sector and Day 2 on the view from the Education Sector.

We gave a presentation on our ESOL qualifications, both on NQ ESOL developed for learners in Scotland, and on its new Certificates in ESOL for Work, developed primarily for the market in England and approved by QCA.

Our presentation was very well received because our ESOL qualifications, based as they are on the key values of the Scottish government’s ESOL Strategy – inclusion, achievement, diversity, quality and progression – meet the needs expressed by the Corporate Sector on Day 1: stakeholder input to the design and review of qualifications, opportunities for flexible delivery, assessment and QA and the development of transferable learning skills via formative assessment.


We are currently participating in the British Council’s regional project for SE Europe Skills at Work in North Cyprus, Serbia, Croatia and Turkey, a project aimed at helping these countries reform and modernise their vocational education, training and qualification systems and develop occupational standards. To date we have delivered key-note presentations and run a series of workshops on a variety of topics including the development of a Unit-based qualifications system, the development of national qualifications frameworks, credit-rating qualifications, standard-setting and quality assurance.

Find out more about our international work.

BETT London Olympia

IMAGE: BETT Conference 2008BETT 2008, the world’s leading educational information and communications technology (ICT) event, took place on 9-12 January, at Olympia in London. This annual event attracts 700 educational suppliers and close to 30000 visitors, bringing together the global teaching and learning community for a four day showcase of the latest UK and international educational technology products, resources and new ways to put ICT at the heart of education.

Visiting the event on behalf of SQA, Joe Wilson, Business Manager for Business and IT, was pleased to note ‘the strong evidence of partnership working across suppliers of qualifications, electronic learning materials and more traditional text books.’

In the ministerial keynote address, schools minister Jim Knight announced that he wanted a home computer to be as standard as a calculator or pencil case for every child and intimated that schools in England will in future give parents access to electronic reports both on progress and attendance.

Comparable to the Scottish Learning Festival, but on a larger scale, the audience for this event is broadly made up of schools and ICT advisors from English local authorities, together with a growing international presence of teachers and advisors from overseas.

Find out more about BETT 2008.


LOGO: Equalities
It’s been one year since we published our Disability Equality Scheme. We are taking this opportunity to review the progress we have made so far in the area of Disability Equality and to amalgamate our reporting into a single equalities review rather than having a review for each equality strand. Our annual review was approved by the Board in early December and is available to download from our website.

If you have any questions or would like to find out more about our Equality Schemes please don’t hesitate to contact Fiach O'Broin-Molloy on 0845 213 5319 or e-mail Equalities.

Find out more.

Motherwell College Student Awards

PHOTO: Neil MacGowan and Laura Townsley
Motherwell College’s
Annual Awards was held on 14 November 2007 at Motherwell Concert Hall, with an audience of over 900 attending the ceremony, including more than 200 students receiving awards – up by 33% on the previous year.

The overall SQA Student of the Year Award, selected from the eight Higher Education departmental winners, was awarded to Department of Business student Laura Townsley as she was judged to have overcome many difficulties and shown that determination can help anyone get through even the most difficult of circumstances. Head of the Chief Executive Department Neil MacGowan was delighted to present Laura with her award on behalf of SQA.

Jewel and Esk College Graduation

The achievements of seventeen-year-old Stephanie Scotland from Bonnyrigg, who suffers from cerebral palsy, were recognised at the Jewel and Esk College Graduation Ceremony on 9 November 2007.

Stephanie was presented with the SQA Award by Neil MacGowan, before 230 of her fellow graduates at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

Stephanie, who is studying childcare at Jewel and Esk, won the honour in recognition of the hard work and determination she has shown over the last year.

Stephanie’s tutor, Angela Hamilton, was unequivocal in her praise: ‘Stephanie has shown a fantastic commitment to all the work she has undertaken. Her sense of humour is always appreciated and her energy is boundless and inspirational to students and staff around her.’