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SQA News 7 September 2023

Modern Languages - updated marking principles for writing specimen question papers

We have updated the general marking principles for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher Modern Languages writing specimen question papers.

The updated marking principles provide guidance on supporting learners who use gender-neutral nouns, pronouns and adjectives when referring to themselves and others in their writing. They reflect the updated marking principles we provided to markers during the 2023 exams.

Updated specimen question papers are available for National 5 writing, Higher directed writing, and Advanced Higher discursive writing.

You can access the updated specimen question papers for each course from our Modern Languages webpages.

About gender-neutral language in SQA qualifications

As Scotland’s national qualifications body, SQA has a duty under the Equality Act (2010) to promote equality of opportunity, eliminate discrimination and foster good relations. Alongside this, one of our duties is to ensure our qualifications and assessments are not discriminatory.  

SQA is an inclusive and diverse organisation, and we aim to achieve fairness by removing any unnecessary barriers. We understand that terminology is evolving and that our customers and stakeholders, including learners who access SQA qualifications, are keenly aware of sensitivities around language.

Updating the general marking principles for writing assessments in Modern Languages courses is an important step towards adopting gender-neutral language across our qualifications and assessments, where possible.

We are also reviewing our internal policies and procedures in support of this work.