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NextGen: HN news

You said, we did - NextGen: HN evaluation

The iterative approach we have taken to NextGen: HN development means there has been ample scope to refine the qualifications during piloting, as well as introducing improvements to the supporting processes and activities, in response to feedback we have received from pilot centres and learners. 

Quality Assurance 

We developed a new approach for NextGen: HN quality assurance in 2021, which aimed to create a more supportive relationship between centres and the External Quality Assurer (EQA), with touchpoint meetings taking place throughout the year. 

Following evaluation after the first year of this approach, we introduced a schedule for the touchpoint meetings, as well as making some changes to our internal processes and reporting. 

Further evaluation and refinement of the approach took place following the second year of the pilot in 2022 - 23. This led to the introduction of a set agenda for the first touchpoint meeting, suggested agendas for the second and third, plus the creation of guidance for EQAs and pilot centres. 

Currently, the quality assurance team are reassured that they can apply a risk-based approach to their activity, following positive feedback from centres and the completion of successful touchpoint meetings in previous pilot years.  

Change Impact Assessment 

Initially, we offered one-off Change Impact Assessment sessions to NextGen: HN pilot centres.  

Following feedback, we enhanced this for 2023 - 24 with an e-learning module on SQA Academy, which walks centres through the Change Impact Assessment process. This allows centres to plan the sessions more effectively and provides centres who have previously been through the process with a useful refresher. 

Learner Engagement 

We carried out 70 focus groups with NextGen: HN learners throughout session 2022 - 23, to help us understand their experiences throughout their course.  

In response to the rich feedback we received on the qualifications and how they were delivered, we have developed additional resources and initiatives, including: 

  • a range of meta-skills resources for practitioners and learners 

  • a themed conversation on assessment to support pilot centres – in response to the varied learner experience of assessment load in their course 

  • a review of the grading models piloted in 2022 - 23 – to ensure learners understand the level required to achieve a specific grade 

Prototype Design 

We updated the NextGen: HN Design Principles – which were designed with flexibility in mind to allow for iterative changes – in response to feedback received at practitioner evaluation events in 2022 - 23. This enabled us to:  

  • Move the meta-skills outcome from the 3 credit project unit, allowing it to be included in the most appropriate mandatory unit. 

  • Remove the Core Skills framework when it became apparent that the meta-skills framework was meeting the requirements. 

  • Include a Learning for Sustainability outcome – to ensure a consistent approach and give learners the opportunity to evidence their knowledge in this area. 

  • Specify how many legacy units could be used in a NextGen: HN framework – to ensure the qualifications align with the ethos of the NextGen: HN project. 

We also provided centres with more resources to support CPD, including: 

  • Meta-skills, Grading and Unit Writing e-learning modules on SQA Academy  

  • Webinars across various topics 

  • Revised meeting schedules 

  • Guidance for SQA centres not involved in the pilot 

We also use a change request process as part of our NextGen: HN developments, which gives pilot centres the opportunity to suggest improvements to the prototype qualifications. Our Engineering and Social Sciences developments are examples of how this has worked in practice. 

NextGen: HNC Engineering 

The Qualification Design Team for the NextGen: HNC Engineering developed an innovative approach, creating a new unit but ensuring that the Application of Maths content was distributed as appropriate throughout the award. 

After pilot centres and our higher education partners asked for a simpler and clearer approach to the maths units (1-5), we reviewed these to ensure they were aligned the NextGen: HN ethos. 

Maths 1 is now core in the NextGen: HNC framework, with Maths 2 optional. Maths 3, 4, and 5 will be options within the HND framework, as is the case currently. 

NextGen: HNC Social Sciences  

Two centres piloted the NextGen HNC Social Sciences in 2022 - 23, and we made several changes in response to their suggestions, and those of their learners, including: 

  • increasing the assessment word counts in Sociology, Politics, History and the mandatory unit to allow learners to fully develop their answers and demonstrate their learning.  
  • enabling more innovative assessment practice by including group presentations. 
  • adopting a more flexible approach to assessment to allow the holistic assessment to be split into several tasks that learners can complete earlier in the session to avoid end-loading assessments.
  • adapting the Politics A unit. The initial focus of the unit was ‘Theories of State’ – ranging from classical to modern theories – which learners found hard to link to modern politics. We changed the focus of the unit to ‘Political ideology’ – covering ideas such as neo-liberalism and conservatism – which learners have found easier to engage with and connect to their everyday lives. Three political ideologies are now taught, and one ideology is used for assessment purposes.