Coursework to return for Scotland's learners next session

Wednesday 29 March 2023

Coursework and exams for practical subjects that were removed from the assessment of National 5s, Highers and Advanced Highers during the COVID-19 pandemic are set to return in 2023-24, it was confirmed today.

SQA made modifications to National Qualification course assessments – such as removing elements of coursework - at the height of the pandemic and extended them for 2021-22 and the current academic year to help limit the impact of disruption on learning and teaching.

Following discussions with the National Qualifications Strategic Group and SQA’s Advisory Council, which draws its membership from across the education community, and a large-scale evaluation of awarding in 2022, most National Qualifications assessment requirements are set to return for the coming year.

This will benefit learners by:

For Higher National and Vocational Qualifications (HNVQ), a similar approach will be taken, retaining aspects of alternative assessment arrangements which benefit learners and centres, while returning to a fuller assessment approach.

Fiona Robertson, Chief Executive of SQA, said: “As part of the emergency response to the pandemic, we made modifications to assessment to reflect public health advice at the time, reduce workload for learners, teachers and lecturers, and to free up time to complete their courses. Our work on the evaluation of awarding in 2022 shows that these temporary arrangements were well-received by the education community.

“However, our engagement with teachers, lecturers, training providers, universities, colleges and subject experts, also suggests that, if retained for longer than necessary, the modifications to assessment could have a detrimental impact on consolidation of learning, and learners’ progression to their next stage of education, employment or training.

“Coursework provides learners with the opportunity to personalise their learning, extend their own knowledge and apply their skills in practice, and we know it is something that many learners enjoy and do well in. It also provides a more balanced assessment approach.

“Having carefully considered next steps with Scotland’s education and training community, fuller assessment requirements will return for the next session.” 

Elements of the modifications will be kept in a small number of National Qualification courses, where it has been identified that the modifications provided a better way for learners to demonstrate their level of knowledge, skills and understanding.

SQA has written to schools and colleges today (29 March 2023) with details of these arrangements for 2023-24. Further information will be sent to learners following this year’s exams as they prepare for the next academic year.

A high-level table explaining what type of assessment learners can expect in their National Qualification courses.