Chief Executive's Welcome
I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year and to take the opportunity
to look back on some of the achievements of 2005. These include the very
successful Customer Conference in May, and the professional delivery of
candidates' results throughout the year and particularly in August. We
have also made great advances in e-assessment and ICT qualifications.
We look forward to working with you to develop and advance Scottish education, and 2006 will present us with the opportunity to do this with a number of exciting initiatives and events. These initiatives include hosting an International Conference for Chief Executives and Directors of Awarding and Curriculum Bodies, as part of a collaborative venture with the Victoria Qualifications Authority (Melbourne) and Board of Studies, New South Wales. The conference will take place in October.
We will be launching the new Scottish Qualifications Certificate, continuing our work on the Skills for Work pilot, and modernising Higher National Qualifications in this, their 80th year.
We will be moving into new offices in Glasgow, The Optima Building, where our neighbours will be Learning and Teaching Scotland. More details will feature in future issues.
Launch of Gaelic Orthographic Conventions
In a move that will assist both Gaelic candidates and teachers, we
have launched an updated version of the Gaelic Orthographic Conventions, with funding support from the Scottish Executive and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
The guidance in the Conventions document aims to provide consistency in the standard of written Gaelic, and supersedes the original, first published in 1981. As well as making available electronic and conventional print versions, we have also launched a new pocket-sized version. Reaction to this version already indicates that it will become a valuable tool for everyone involved in written Gaelic in the future.
Skills for Work Update
Phase 1 of the Skills for Work pilot has been running for the past six
months. The feedback has been extremely positive. Preparations for phase
2 are well underway, with the launch of the new Course and Unit specifications
planned for April and May 2006.
Potential Cluster Awards
You may have had candidates entered for an award at Intermediate 1 who
failed to pass the external examination in 2005, but who could potentially
be eligible for the award at Access 3 level (cluster). This can only apply
in cases where there is a hierarchical Unit structure between Intermediate
1 and Access 3, and all the Units at Intermediate 1 have been resulted
To identify any candidates this might apply to, go to the Full Centre Details screen in Navigator (your centre's SQA Co-ordinator will have access to Navigator):
- choose 'Entries Data Reports'
- select the option 'Certificated Entries' and input the date range 01 08 2005 to 31 08 2005.
- run the report then select 'open'.
This will return an Excel worksheet. The simplest way to identify candidates is to use Microsoft Excel's data auto-filter facility. We would suggest that you use the custom filter option in Excel to choose:
- entry codes beginning with 'C'
- level equals '10'
- result equals '8' or '9'
Candidates identified may be eligible for a cluster award at Access 3 level. If you do submit a cluster entry, please use your normal submission method. If appropriate, the candidates will be certificated for the Access 3 cluster.
SOLAR Project Update
SOLAR, a Scottish Funding Council supported project is developing online
summative assessments to support our programme of HN modernisation. These
assessments are being produced by subject-specialists from the FE sector
in Scotland. They are delivered over the internet direct to colleges and
are automatically marked.
Assessments are already available and, from early 2006, there will be a programme of events around Scotland that will provide colleges with the training needed to administer and report on these assessments.
If you want to know more about how your college can access the assessments and what assessments are available, or if you would like to be involved in assessment development, visit the project website.
Customer Satisfaction Survey
Your satisfaction is very important to us. We want to provide the highest
possible standard of service to all our customers.
We would like your help in identifying where we fully meet your needs and also where you would like to see improvements.
To be accurate and impartial this process needs to be carried out in a professional and objective manner. We have therefore appointed The Leadership Factor, an agency which specialises in this work, to carry out the exercise on our behalf. The Leadership Factor will be contacting Co-ordinators in all centres soon with further details.
Responses will be treated in confidence by The Leadership Factor - we will receive only an overall summary of the results of the interviews. After the survey, we will provide you with a summary of the results and will keep you informed about any actions we plan to take as a result of the findings.
We regard this initiative as a very important step in our aim of continually improving the level of service we provide to all our customers and would like to thank you in advance for your help and support.
Focus On: International Activity
We believe that global interaction in education and training benefits
our customers, our clients, our partners and ourselves through the sharing
of expertise and experience.
This is reflected in the three key areas for action detailed in our International Strategy:
- international bench marking and intelligence
- promoting Scottish education and training world-wide
- supporting education and training worldwide
Higher National Modernisation: Update for Consortium Developments
We have now validated 71 out of 144 consortium developments, 62 of which
have arrangements documents posted on the website. 40 developments are
due to validate in the first part of 2006, including ten which are waiting
for the lifting of conditions. A further 16 are due to validate later
in the year, taking us to 127 (88%) at the end of June.
Twelve awards are currently scheduled to validate in December 2006. If any of these have conditions set, we would miss the key 31 December 2006 milestone date, so we are planning to bring these for validation earlier.
84% of the developments started early or on time, and a further 3% within three months of the plan. Of the validations, 37% were early or on time and 44% were within three months of the plan (many of these came forward for validation on time, but had conditions set).
There is a net loss of 31 specialist single-centre developments, as many centres opted to join collaborations or to go with consortium developments.
New Higher National Qualifications in Music, Music Business and Sound Production
A joint collaboration between the SQA and Scottish colleges has led to
the creation of national qualifications unique in the UK. This partnership
has seen the production of national frameworks for Music, Music Business
and Sound Production Higher National Certificate and Diploma awards. These
will be officially launched next week.
The HNC and 1st year HND awards share a common core across each of the three frameworks, with a large number of options in each of the individual frameworks. This was a prime factor in the development and allows flexibility for each delivering centre to take into account local variations and specialisms.
The target group for these new awards is people with an ability and interest in music, music business or sound production and who wish to pursue one or more of these areas as a career. A central focus of the design team, when designing these awards, was to ensure that, once studies are complete, candidates are equipped to take up the challenges and opportunities afforded in their chosen profession.
Throughout their development, extensive consultation took place. This was with relevant industry organisations and practitioners as well as Higher Education Institutions offering related courses where articulation issues were addressed. Consultation will be ongoing to ensure that these awards are fit for purpose.
New Scottish Progression Award in Rural Skills
We recently launched a Scottish Progression Award in Rural Skills at
Intermediate 2. This is an introductory award which will provide candidates
with knowledge of the rural sector and the basic practical skills needed
to work in rural industries.
This new qualification is a vocational programme for young people, for people who are not in employment, or for anyone who is interested in a career in the rural sector. The award will equip candidates with the basic practical skills, knowledge and understanding they will need to work in the sector. It will develop their knowledge of the needs of the rural sector, the range of occupations and the issues facing the sector and their broad impact on Scottish life.
Induction Guide for Co-ordinators
We have recently updated the Induction Guide for SQA Co-ordinators.
The format of the handbook has not changed. It begins by giving you some
background about SQA's qualifications and then tells you what will be
expected of you as a Co-ordinator.
If you have just started as a Co-ordinator, or are refreshing your knowledge, we hope you will find this guide helpful. It is not meant to be an exhaustive reference work, but it will direct you to useful sources of information, including SQA staff who are on hand to assist you.
The processing of appeals is now complete and a full report will be available
Some of the headlines are:
- The total number of appeals in 2005 was 43,162 - a decrease of 2,515 from 2004. This is a continuation of the decline in appeals since 2002.
- The appeals success rate across all qualification levels has decreased this year by 2.4 percentage points, down to a similar level to 2003.
- Between 2004 and 2005, the appeals success rate rose at both Intermediate 1 and Intermediate 2. However, at Advanced Higher, Higher and Standard Grade these rates have decreased.