Equality and SQA qualifications

As an awarding body, we work with schools, colleges, universities, industry and government, to ensure that qualifications, including National Courses, are inclusive and accessible to all, recognise the achievements of learners, and enable progression to further learning or employment.

Fair and accessible qualifications

The SQA Code of Practice outlines how SQA ensures that its qualifications are of a high quality and fit for purpose, and that the assessment of these qualifications is monitored and maintained to a consistently high standard. It sets out the framework by which we safeguard the integrity of SQA’s qualifications and assessment standards, and ensures public confidence.

The Code of Practice is based on a set of 13 Governing Principles that govern how SQA meets its statutory duties and regulates its activities. Similar principles apply to SQA qualifications that are regulated by other organisations. Governing Principle 7 states: SQA will ensure that all qualifications and assessments are as fair and accessible as possible and that the needs of learners are met in the administration of its assessments.

The SQA Equality of Access to SQA Qualifications Policy outlines the organisation’s commitment to promoting and facilitating access to our qualifications. In practice, this means that every reasonable step will be taken to ensure we:

  • Produce qualifications based on national standards that are as accessible as possible - we equality review our qualifications to identify any aspects that might adversely impact learners who share particular characteristics, and we aim to remove any such adverse impacts, wherever possible, and minimise them where it is not possible to remove them altogether.

  • Develop methods of assessment and quality assurance that are sensitive to the needs of all learners, but which do not compromise our overarching aims of fairness and consistency.

  • Provide assessment arrangements to allow disabled learners and/or those with additional support needs to access the assessment without compromising its integrity. For disabled learners, we will make reasonable adjustments in accordance with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010.

Equality review of National Qualifications

The Equality Act (2010) places clear duties on SQA not to discriminate against people who are, or wish to be, learners for SQA's qualifications because of their disability, race, age, religion or belief, sex, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, or sexual orientation (known as the protected characteristics).

National Courses must not be unlawfully discriminatory for any learner on grounds of any of these protected characteristics. SQA carries out an ‘equality review of qualifications process’ for all National Qualifications, to ensure that there is robust and transparent consideration of equalities during development and ongoing maintenance of qualifications. These documents are a summary of these reviews.