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

2 December 2008
Issue 32


Stars shining bright

Logo: star awards
Thirty-eight awards in fourteen different categories were presented to a variety of education and training success stories from across Scotland last week at our annual Star Awards.

The winners and those being highly commended, were a mixture of individual learners and education and training organisations. Every year, SQA seeks to celebrate success and commitment by individuals, schools, colleges, training providers and businesses.

The Awards ceremony was hosted by TV presenter Kaye Adams and was supported by a raft of sponsors, including the Scottish GovernmentUK Skills, CBI Scotland, Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework, Learning and Teaching Scotland, education publishers Leckie & Leckie, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scotland's Colleges International, Royal Mail Group, Federation of Small Businesses (Scotland), Bright Red Publishing, Youthlink Scotland, UCAS, Scottish Training Federation, Facilities & Corporate Solutions Ltd, S.O. Creative, School Leaders Scotland, Ashbrook Research and Ten Alps MTD.

SQA Chief Executive, Dr Janet Brown, in congratulating all the awardees said: 'Scottish education and training is full of inspirational stories and magnificent achievements from students and centres. The response to our invitation for nominations was phenomenal – selecting finalists in each category was very difficult. To all who made it to the ceremony, well done. You represent the absolute best of Scotland and should take enormous pride in your achievements.'

The winners of the individual awards are:

The winners of the Centre awards are:

From all these winners, two Pride o’Worth Awards were presented. The Pride o’Worth  Awards are the SQA’s highest accolades and are selected from the evening’s winners in both individual and centre categories.

The Pride o’Worth for Individuals was presented to Bob Robertson

PHOTO: Pride o'Worth winner and Appointee of the Year, Bob Robertson

The Pride o’Worth for Centres
was presented to Langside College for their Activating Govanhill programme

PHOTO: Pride o'Worth winner, Lifelong Learning Centre of the Year and Partnership Highly Commended - Langside College

The Highly Commended awards in the individual categories went to:

The Highly Commended awards in the Centre categories went to:

The evening was brought to a close with a congratulatory message to all the winners and those highly commended from triple Olympic Gold Medallist, Chris Hoy - watch his message of support.

See photographs of all the winners and performers.

Fellowship of SQA

PHOTO: Bill Gold MBE and Linda McKay MBE receiving their Fellowship of the SQA from John McCormick, SQA Chairman

At our Star Awards ceremony, our highest honour, The Fellowship of the SQA, was awarded to Bill Gold, MBE and Forth Valley College Principal Linda McKay, MBE, two individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to education and training in Scotland. The awards were presented to them by SQA Chairman John McCormick at the ceremony which celebrated the achievements of the best of Scottish education and training.

In his speech, John McCormick said, 'Bill Gold has given a long and sustained commitment to supporting and developing education and skills. It really is important that education and business work hand in glove. This requires people from business to work with us. Bill Gold really personifies that partnership and absolutely sees the benefits of working together.'

He continued, 'Linda McKay is a remarkable woman, a very effective and passionate spokesperson for Scotland’s further education sector. Linda has held critical roles on the SQA Board and has chaired two of our major committees – the Qualifications Committee and Advisory Council. These groups are critical to our operations and I have always been grateful to Linda for her dedication in leading these groups. I am so pleased SQA can acknowledge her achievements.'

Find out more.

Integrating Technology in Education

PHOTO: Memorandum of Understanding signing, Bob McDowell, Vice-President, Microsoft Corporation and Dr Janet Brown, SQA Chief Executive with pupils from Abbeyhill Primary School, EdinburghAbbeyhill Primary School in Edinburgh was the venue for an extension of the globally innovative Partners in Learning initiative – a public and private sector partnership in Scotland involving SQA and the Microsoft Corporation. The initiative, which operates with Microsoft partners worldwide, assists pupils and students and those working in education to integrate technology into daily teaching, learning and research.

Our Chief Executive, Dr Janet Brown and Bob McDowell Vice-President of Microsoft Corporation signed a Memorandum of Understanding which will see the Partners in Learning initiative move into a new phase. SQA was invited to lead on the project and activities were agreed through a national committee which included HM Inspectorate of Education, General Teaching Council Scotland, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, and Learning and Teaching Scotland.

The most high-profile aspect of the initiative is, an online business game for secondary school pupils which was specially developed to suit the needs of the Scottish curriculum. Pupils are challenged to run ‘virtual’ sports stores. They have to make general business decisions, hire and develop staff, buy stock, drive price promotions and engage in detailed sales analysis.

Janet Brown said: 'When the initiative was introduced three years ago it was a genuinely trailblazing concept. Since then we have closely monitored progress. The feedback from teachers and pupils has been excellent. We are challenged, always, to find new ways of making enterprise and business learning relevant, attractive and fun. The online business game in which thousands of Scottish learners have participated ticks all of these boxes. I'm sure that it will be equally well received in the primary sector.'

Find out more about Partners in Learning.

Partnership with Historic Scotland and Construction Skills

PHOTO: Signing of Memorandum of Understanding, Dr Janet Brown, SQA Chief Executive, David Mitchell, Director of Technical Conservation Group, Historic Scotland and Graeme Ogilvy, Scotland Director of ConstructionSkills

A collaboration between Historic Scotland, Constructionskills Scotland and SQA was recently announced in a bid to tackle the skills gaps in the traditional building sector in the construction industry. Our three organisations have come together, for the first time, to establish a strategic partnership which will be in force for the next four years.

Nearly 50% of Scotland’s construction activity relates to repair and maintenance, but gaps remain in the availability of a broad range of traditional building skills.  The first task for the partnership will be to identify the skills and knowledge gaps in traditional building skills in the construction sector. It will then ensure the correct qualifications and professional development are in place, within the education framework, to improve the conservation, maintenance and repair of traditionally constructed buildings in Scotland.

Our Chief Executive Janet Brown said: 'Much of Scotland’s rich historical heritage is portrayed in stone, bricks and mortar. Often, the skills required to maintain and repair some of those marvellous old buildings – without which Scotland would be a poorer place – are no longer available. For that reason, it is essential that we work together to ensure that the store of knowledge from years gone by is passed on to the current and future generations of craftspeople. Our strategic partnership represents a significant step along the path of ensuring that the appropriate skills and knowledge essential to effectively caring for our architectural heritage is not only maintained but is enhanced and developed for the future.'

David Mitchell, Director of the Technical Conservation Group at Historic Scotland, said: 'This is a significant step by all three parties to assist in identifying gaps in training and knowledge in the traditional skills sector, and to work with industry, training providers and other partners to raise the standards of work being undertaken on traditional buildings across Scotland.'

Graeme Ogilvy, Scotland Director for ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council said: 'It’s crucial that we take the correct steps to bridging the skills gap in this industry by educating those working in the sector about the importance of properly  preserving the country’s heritage buildings. We look forward to working closely with Historic Scotland and the SQA to address this issue and to develop appropriate training and heritage qualifications for the professional sector.'

Baccalaureate Announcement

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, recently announced the constituent parts of the new Scottish Language Baccalaureate and Scottish Science Baccalaureates which have been created to build on the back of the Advanced Highers’ success.

The Scottish Baccalaureate will be based on a coherent group of subjects at Higher and Advanced Higher level. This coherence will allow learners to build a significant body of knowledge, skills and qualifications in science or languages which will enhance progression opportunities in related disciplines to Further and Higher Education and to employment.

In addition, the Baccalaureate will offer added breadth and value through an interdisciplinary project which is intended to broaden the learner experience, extend subject knowledge and develop the generic skills, attitudes and confidence necessary to make the transition into Further and Higher Education and/or employment.

Ms Hyslop said: 'The Baccalaureate awards aim to encourage more of our young people to study more science and language courses in the later stages of secondary school, raise the status of S6 and assist our young people in making the transition from school to higher and further education and employment.'

The full announcement is available on the Scottish Government's website.

We are now working closely with colleagues in the Scottish Government and key stakeholders to take this important development forward. The Baccalaureate will be available to centres in August 2009 with first certification in August 2010.

Find out more.

Update on Centre Support

As you will be aware we have been refining how we engage with you, our customers. Our new approach will allow us to focus on your needs and support your business aspirations for the future, however we want to assure you that maintaining quality will remain at the heart of what we do as well as providing the excellent customer support that you have come to expect.

To bring us even closer to you and your needs we plan to have a dedicated, geographically focused team covering your region. This resource will have both field and office based staff who will be familiar with your business and your account with us. Together they will deliver a first-class service to you.

The team will be led by our newly appointed Head of Business Development and Customer Support, Fraser Addiscott.  We will be writing to you again in January to introduce the team and further update you on the structure and our plans.

In the meantime, your existing Customer Support Manager (CSM) will continue to provide support and assistance to you as required.

Publication of National Qualifications - External Assessment Reports and Course Reports

We are pleased to announce that the annual External Assessment Reports (previously called Principal Assessor Reports) for National Courses and Standard Grade in 2008 are now available on our website. The External Assessment Report provides information on the performance of candidates in 2008 which we hope will enhance understanding of national standards for these qualifications and assist with delivery and assessment of learning. These reports can be found in the 'Subject-specific links' menu of the relevant subject page.

We are also pleased to announce that annual Course Reports are available for the following Courses: English, Mathematics, French, Music, Drama, Graphic Communication, Physical Education and Hospitality. The Course Report contains all information on internal and external assessment for the subject in the one place. This provides an easier way of making a comparison across levels and year and offers support in achieving consistency in national standards across levels for both internal and external assessment.

View the reports.

MySQA Update

As you will be aware, MySQA is the web enabled service that allows candidates to access their SQA record online.

Phase 1 of MySQA launched on 1 May 2008 and was promoted to candidates as a way to register online to receive their exam results by email and text message.  On 5 August 2008 we successfully sent 20,414 emails and 13,574 text messages containing exam results to National Qualification students. 

We have just completed an evaluation of MySQA and a summary of the results is available on the SQA co-ordinators page at

MySQA has now re-opened. As well as being able to see the personal details we hold for them, candidates who are registered for MySQA will now be able to view their qualification information (from 1995 onwards). Candidates will be able to see:

This means that MySQA is now relevant to all SQA candidates and on 10 November we began a promotional campaign aimed at college, employer and training provider candidates.  The campaign will run until February 2009 and will consist of:

Once again in 2009 candidates who are registered for MySQA will be able to get their exam results sent to them by email and/or text message.  We will send emails and text messages between 8am and 9am on Wednesday 5 August 2009. This service will be promoted to National Qualification candidates from March 2009.

The benefits of MySQA are clear. Candidates can:

Any candidate with a valid Scottish Candidate Number (SCN) can register now at

If you have any queries about MySQA please email Jacqui Murray, MySQA Manager.

Find out more.

Art Exhibitions

PHOTO: SQA Art Exhibition at the Scottish Parliament
Our first art exhibition at the Scottish Parliament has now ended, with 62 schools from across Scotland visiting to participate in the self-guided tours of the exhibition. In total, an amazing 98 schools and 3,195 students visited Parliament to view the exhibition.

Here are just some of the fantastic comments about the art works on display:

‘Never knew there was so much talent in our Scottish schools’

‘Very impressed by the quality of the young people’s work, and by the teachers who taught them’

‘Amazing and inspirational. A bright future hopefully lies in front of these talented young people’

Our first ever major exhibition in Glasgow, supported by Culture and Sport Glasgow, is being held in the iconic People’s Palace on historic Glasgow Green. This exhibition opens to the public on Monday 1 December 2008 and will run until Friday 16 January 2009. The exhibition will feature a selection of Higher works from the Scottish Parliament exhibition together with the best works from Standard Grade, Intermediate 1, and Intermediate 2.

PHOTO: Harsimran Singh from  Bishopbriggs AcademyPHOTO: Johanna Nelson from St Columba's RC High School in Dunfermline

View the artworks.

PDA: Developing Literacies Learning Programmes for the Workplace

Training Works (Scotland) Ltd is the first centre we have approved to offer the Professional Development Award (PDA): Developing Literacies Learning Programmes for the Workplace (DLLPW) which has been validated at SCQF Level 7.

The PDA: DLLPW looks at the principles, process and practice of developing and planning for the delivery of literacies learning within a workplace context. It supports practitioners who have an understanding and experience of adult literacies to prepare for a development role for literacies learning for the workplace. It is also appropriate for staff within private and public sector organisations whose main remit is staff development and training.

In particular, the content of the award will help participants to:

The award consists of three Units:

Participants will complete all three Units to achieve the PDA, but it is also possible to undertake individual Units that reflect their particular needs.

The Course will be offered at regular intervals throughout the year. Candidates from the national pilot course are currently completing the qualification and a new course will be delivered in central Glasgow from Tuesday 27 January 2009. Full details of the course programme, dates and fees can be found on the Training Works website. Training Works can also offer in-house programmes for organisations or partnerships in Scotland. Please contact to discuss this.

Find out more about this new PDA.

Professional Development for ESOL Practitioners


PDA: Introduction to Tutoring ESOL

The Professional Development Award (PDA): Introduction to Tutoring ESOL (G91E 46) (PDA:ITESOL)  was launched last month following extensive research, consultation and development, which took direct account of the needs and views of the ESOL practitioner body in Scotland.  Extremely well-attended events took place across Scotland, in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness.  There was an excellent response to this new development, with participants keen to discuss issues around content and delivery during group-based sessions.

We were delighted to have knowledgeable and eloquent guest speakers: Peter Beaumont – Scottish Government, Euan Reid - National ESOL Panel Chair and Helen Davison - Fife Council.  Members of the TESOL Qualifications Design and Verification teams provided invaluable support in terms of developing the sessions and facilitating the groups.

This PDA is a 2-Unit award and is set at SCQF level 6, providing the first stage in an emerging Professional Development Framework for ESOL practitioners in Scotland, a key strand of The Adult ESOL Strategy for Scotland. The Award is of particular relevance to current and future volunteer ESOL tutors and tutor assistants who wish to develop their knowledge and skills in this area. The Award is flexible in its design, allowing candidates to link theory and practice.

The PDA is intended to:

Approval to deliver the PDA: ITESOL is non-devolved. If you would like to deliver the award, please let us know. We are looking forward to centres coming forward for approval and starting to deliver the award across Scotland.

PDA in ESOL Literacies: Teaching Adults Reading, Writing and Numeracy

Since 2005, centres in Scotland have been offering the PDA in ESOL Literacies: Teaching Adults Reading, Writing and Numeracy. This award is aimed at practitioners who already hold TESOL qualifications and wish professional development in the specific area of working with ESOL literacies learners. We are delighted to announce that:

Stevenson College, Edinburgh will deliver this PDA from January 09 on Thursday evenings – contact Ann Morgan-Thomas for more information. 
Langside College, Glasgow will be offering this award from December 08 on Monday evenings – contact Celia Fisher for more information.

North Highland College is offering a distance learning course with residential component – contact Lucy Hawkins: or go to their website.

National ESOL Panel and Professional Development

The National ESOL Panel has set up a Professional Development Working Group to consider and provide recommendations on a Professional Development Framework for ESOL practitioners in Scotland.  SQA is currently undertaking scoping work which will help provide data on the professional development needs of current and future ESOL practitioners. This research will build on work last year which preceded the development of the PDA: ITESOL.  An online survey of practitioners will take place early in the New Year.

You can find out more about the National Panel’s remit and activities through the new ESOL Scotland.

Further information on professional development in the ESOL domain can be accessed on the SQA website at or by contacting Jennifer MacDougall (0845 213 5596).

Find out more about ESOL.

National Progression Award in Supply Chain Operations (SCQF Level 5)

A new National Progression Award (NPA) in Supply Chain Operations (SCQF level 5) was successfully validated in August 2008. This award will enable candidates to develop knowledge and understanding of what a supply chain is; how a supply chain operates; and the roles and responsibilities of individuals within the Supply Chain. Successful candidates may proceed directly into employment in the logistics industry and supply chain functions, with the opportunity of Modern Apprenticeships where appropriate, or continue into further or higher education where a variety of logistics related courses are available.

Freight logistics is a major industry sector in Scotland, employing around 5% of the Scottish workforce yet it is a sector which is largely invisible to most of the Scottish population. Young people, in particular, are unaware of the job and careers opportunities which the sector could hold for them. The result is that the age profile of the logistics workforce is heavily skewed towards older age groups and employers face difficulties in attracting younger people, especially school leavers, into the workforce.

The NPA in Supply Chain Operations will develop employability skills in candidates. These employability skills will be of use in the future, regardless of which career the candidate eventually chooses. The Units within the NPA have been written so as to be fully compatible with the relevant National Occupational Standards in Warehousing and Storage and Supply Chain Management. This will facilitate progression of candidates onto SVQs. It also gives the NPA credibility with freight logistics employers. 

The NPA in Supply Chain Operations is likely to be of particular interest to school pupils but would also be of interest to existing employers within the logistics sector, LGV drivers, trainees of national programmes such as get Ready for Work and Training for Work and, as mentioned above, to Colleges who could use some or all of the Units within full or part-time college programmes.

For further information regarding the NPA please contact Christine Keenan, Qualifications Manager.

Find out more about this new NPA.

New Scottish Standard Web Pages

IMAGE: Scottish Standard

The Scottish Government places learning at the heart of its vision for a 'Smarter Scotland'. This feeds through into its decisions about what learners need to know (the curriculum), their levels of knowledge and skills (assessment), and how these are recognised (qualifications).

At SQA we take our responsibilities in these areas very seriously. We work hard, on your behalf, to maintain standards. This contributes to Scotland's international reputation for qualifications of rigour, quality and consistency. Much of what we do goes on behind the scenes, and to help tell you about our processes briefly and clearly, we are bringing all of them under the label of the 'Scottish Standard'. This provides a useful focus, and should help everyone to understand what we do. This, in turn, will help ensure that you have confidence in our qualifications.

We hope these pages tell you what you want to know about the Scottish Standard, and if you have any comments or suggestions please e-mail them to us.

Find out more about the Scottish Standard.

British Council visit from Singapore

We recently entertained a group of visitors from Singapore who were on a study visit to Scotland in association with the British Council. The group of ten teachers accompanied by a representative from the Singapore Ministry of Education were focussing on citizenship related issues and character development in Scottish education. This study visit is part of their ongoing Continuing Professional Development programme which requires 100 hours of professional development activity each year.

PHOTO: Singapore teachers visiting SQA, Glasgow
The group were welcomed by Roderic Gillespie, Head of Curriculum for Excellence and given a presentation by Keith Wright, Qualifications Manager , Humanities and Social Sciences.  As well as describing SQA's role in Scottish education Keith outlined the role  of SQA's new qualification in Personal Development and showed how citizenship is embedded in a range of its Courses.

Copies of recent Modern Studies exams were distributed  to show how this subject deals with citizenship. Future opporutunities to embed personal development and citizenship in our qualifications were also covered in discussions about Curriculum for Excellence. The group was also particularly interested in our ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Courses which demonstrate how we are catering for this particular group of learners.

Elmwood College SQA Award

PHOTO: Christopher Brendel receiving his SQA Award from Rick Bond, Head of Management Development, Elmwood College
Christopher Brendel pictured here with Rick Bond, Head of Unit, Management Development at Elmwood College receiving his SQA Award at the college's recent Graduation Ceremony.

Rick said, 'Chris completed both an HNC and an HND in Golf Management, is an excellent golfer (playing off a single figure handicap) and is enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the game.  As well as this, he adopted a remarkably mature and professional approach to his studies. As a result, the work that he submitted was of an extremely high standard throughout his time at Elmwood.'

'Chris was awarded the Castle Course prize for best HND Golf Management student.  He was also awarded the SQA prize, largely based on the merits of his graded Unit, the final report involved documenting and reflecting upon an event organised at Elmwood Golf Course for key organisational stakeholders.'

Chris has now embarked upon an MA in Business at Heriot-Watt University. The Management Development team wish him well for what will undoubtedly be a further successful chapter in his career.

Christopher said, 'I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the entire Management Development team for the great support you have provided throughout the two years. It has been a real experience for me. Winning an SQA prize at the end of my HND was the point of culmination and, at the same time, a nice surprise.'

If you have a College Graduation Ceremony coming up and would like to nominate someone for a SQA Award, please let us know.

Enterprise Month

November has been Enterprise Month - a Celebration of Scotland's Enterprising Young People, organised by Determined to Succeed, the Scottish Government's strategy for enterprise in education. During the month, schools have been organising activities and participating in challenges which focus on Science and Technology, Communications, Global Entrepreneurship and Scotland's Past, Culture and Heritage.

Some of the activities that have taken place include the Make Your Mark Challenge, which is a UK-wide enterprise competition open to all secondary schools; and the Enterprising Inventors Challenge, which is a competition for primary pupils in several local authorities. It aims to celebrate the country's contribution to the global economy and nurture the next generation of Scotland's inventors.

Speaking as she launched Scotland's Enterprise Month 2008 at a four-day Youth Business Global Conference organised by one of Prince Charles's charities in Edinburgh, Maureen Watt, Minister for Schools and Skills said, 'With a new phase of Determined to Succeed, the Scottish Government's strategy for enterprise education, we are placing greater emphasis on skills for life and skills for work, increasing the partnership working between schools and employers, further developing entrepreneurial learning through an increased focus on private and social enterprise and improving the overall learning experience for all of Scotland's young people.'

Find out more.