SQA launches consultation on Scottish set texts

Thursday 7 March 2024

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is asking teachers and learners their views on which Scottish set texts should be studied as part of its National 5, and Higher English courses from 2025-26 onwards. 

The consultation will run for eight weeks and marks the first time that learners have been given the opportunity to have their say on the Scottish texts studied at these levels. 

Scottish texts are a key part of National 5 and Higher English courses. Learners study Scottish texts in addition to other texts that are chosen by their school or college. Through studying the works of Scottish writers, learners develop an appreciation of Scotland’s own literary heritage. 

The Scottish set text list offers a range of prescribed texts across the genres of poetry, prose, and drama by writers such as Robin Jenkins, Jackie Kay, Liz Lochhead, and Robert Burns. Scottish set texts are the only prescribed element of SQA’s National 5, and Higher English courses. Schools and colleges are encouraged to choose a wide range of other texts that learners study elsewhere in the course; which is unique within English courses across the whole of the UK. This consultation will give practitioners, and for the first-time learners alike the opportunity to have their say on the Scottish texts studied at these levels. 

Dr Gill Stewart, Director of Qualifications Development at SQA said: ‘The Scottish set text list for National 5 and Higher English reflects Scotland's rich culture and heritage. From the outset, it has been our intention to update the list periodically. This consultation is part of SQA’s ongoing review and maintenance of National Courses, and the views of practitioners and learners are an essential part of this.’ 

Robert Quinn, Head of English, Languages, and Business at SQA, said: ‘We want teachers and lecturers to have their say about which Scottish texts they would like us to keep on the list and which they would want to see replaced. We are also asking teachers to tell us which texts they would like to see added to the list.’ 

Jenny Gilruth, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, said: 'World Book Day is an appropriate time to remind ourselves of the fantastic breadth and variety of texts learners across Scotland study in National 5, and Higher English. This consultation of learners and teachers will help to ensure the revised Scottish set text list remains relevant and reflects Scotland's rich culture and heritage into 2025-26 and beyond.'

The online survey runs until Monday 6 May 2024. Once the online survey has concluded, SQA will conduct focus groups with teachers and learners and explore in more detail the feedback it has received. The revised list of Scottish set texts will be confirmed in November this year, with the first assessments conducted in May 2026. 

Mr Quinn adds: ‘This is the first time we have asked learners their views on the content of the Scottish set text list, and it is important that we listen to them as part of this consultation. 

‘We are asking all age groups – learners in S1-S3, those in S4-S6, and recent leavers at college and university, and in the workplace – to give us their views on texts they have read, the themes and topics they have covered, and the sort of texts they would like to see included in the future. The feedback we receive will help shape our decisions and reflects our commitment to listen to and take on board the views of our stakeholders.’ 

The Scottish Set texts consultation for National 5, and Higher English is open now. The learner survey is available here, while the teacher survey can be accessed here. The initial phase of the consultation will close on Monday 6 May.