NextGen: HN - Pilot Qualifications Engagement and Collaboration - Case Study

Pilot qualifications

NextGen: HNC Television beings piloting in August 2021, with Edinburgh College and New College Lanarkshire delivering the qualification.

Making it happen

The service design approach has been heavily embedded into these pilots with lots of collaborative working, courage to launch with true minimal viable products for the qualifications, and tailored support tools that are enabling positive engagement.

‘It has been a privilege to be involved with the NextGen: HN team developing HNC Television. It has been liberating to create new design rules and be part of a prototyping and piloting process. Collaborating with centres, stakeholders and SQA colleagues has been brilliant, sometimes messy, always productive and something positive to focus on during the pandemic. I am very pleased that the idea on paper is now ready to be piloted, and am looking forward to working with the pilot centres to review and refine as we go, and to develop qualifications that support the learner in their careers now and beyond’.

Gail English, Qualifications Manager for HNC Television at SQA

‘Myself and the rest of the Film & TV team at New College Lanarkshire felt that being involved in the NextGen: HN pilot was a fantastic opportunity to put into practice our beliefs and values on learning and teaching. The new qualification covers all bases. It is learner-centred, outcome-focussed and it looks to industry for validation. There will be some huge challenges ahead in education post-COVID-19 and the NextGen: HN qualifications go some way to help the transformation that will be required.'

Alan Moffatt, Lecturer at New College Lanarkshire is delivering the pilot course.

Change Impact Assessment

A key part of the process has been applying a change impact assessment, which was carried out by SQA’s OD (organisational development) and Change Management team with each of the pilot centres. OD and Change Management uses this tool when the business is ready to implement a solution. The assessment broadly covers the impact of the change on certain groups, the degree of influence and impact, any concerns that are anticipated, and the level of assistance the affected groups will need.

‘We anticipate this will be an ongoing piece of work.’ ‘The team will conduct change impact assessments as new colleges come forward to deliver these qualifications to ensure we are supporting our staff and stakeholders to the best of our ability.’

Gavin Mackie, Change Management and Development Practitioner at SQA

Next steps

Pre-launch meetings between the pilot colleges and SQA were held in June. The format supported truly open contributions, the sharing and solving of issues, and acceptance of a jointly designed future for the qualifications, allowing each party to contribute their skills and learn from each other.


A vital part of the redesign process is the inclusion and recognition of meta-skills. It’s important to stress that these are not new skills. They are, nonetheless, at the forefront of the new qualifications. We recognise the value of these aptitudes in helping learners put their vocational skills into practice. They include skills to support self-management, social intelligence and innovation, and to help learners adapt and thrive in changing worlds of work.

‘Lecturers have always helped learners to develop their meta-skills in one way or another, even if they haven’t used this term.’  ‘By formally including meta-skills, we can make this support much more visible, and learners will be better able to actively plan, recognise and articulate their own development. Being able to do this is crucial for the lifelong development and leverage of professional practice and behaviours.’

Lee-Anne Quinn, Research and Policy Manager at SQA, helped to incorporate meta-skills into the new qualifications.

Quality assurance

In addition to reshaping the qualifications, SQA has reviewed its approach to quality assurance (QA), using the pilot phases to test changes that aim to improve the overall experience for centres whilst still meeting assessment standards. The key areas for change include QA by group award instead of by verification group, and delivering end-to-end support and development rather than end-loaded QA.

‘The projected changes to QA have been welcomed by current pilot centres.’ ‘They are excited to engage in the upfront and ongoing supportive model of quality assurance moving forward.’

Juliette McGinley, Senior Operations Manager at SQA highlights the importance of an evolving QA model.

Looking to the future

The qualification pilots are running in session 2021–22 and form part of SQA’s iterative evaluation along with the development process. SQA will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure ongoing improvement in successive iterations of NextGen: HN qualifications.

‘The initial pilots are the first step towards our ambition of developing new, world-class, forward-thinking qualifications which will meet the needs of today’s learners, the education sector and industry. Colleagues from across the education sector have shown tremendous commitment to push this work forward, and I’m delighted by how enthusiastically colleges, partners and stakeholders have engaged in all stages of the development. It’s an exciting time and I’m really looking forward to working together with our pilot centres over the coming months.’ 

Valerie Innes, Head of Service: Next Generation Qualifications and Standards at SQA