Internet Safety - Frequently asked questions

What is internet safety about?

Internet safety is about the safe and legal use of the internet. The internet is used by lots of people, of all ages, for lots of purposes - ranging from chatting to friends to booking a holiday - and the use of the internet is growing at a rapid pace. But there are risks involved in using the internet. These risks include: unwanted e-mail, online fraud, identity theft, child grooming and viruses. There are numerous media reports about abuses and new threats are emerging all of the time. A large survey carried out by Ofcom highlighted these two trends (growing use of the internet, accompanied by increased threats to personal safety) and emphasised the lack of awareness about potential threats.

So internet safety means knowing about potential threats when you are online; knowing what you can and cannot (legally) do when you are online; and knowing how to protect yourself from some of the risks that are involved in using the internet.

Why is there a need for a qualification?

There are already lots of short courses available on internet safety, so why create a formal qualification?

It was felt that a qualification would formalise the approach to internet safety and standardise the advice given to students. And since it's a National Qualification, schools and colleges would be funded to deliver it.

We think that it's the first national qualification in internet safety in the world and we're hoping that it will appeal to international students, and make a contribution to improving the safety of students across the globe.

Internet Safety is also SQA's first e-only qualification. Both the learning materials and the assessments are available online which enables the qualification to be delivered in a variety of modes. It can be delivered soley in a classroom setting; open learning; distance learning or a variety of all three.

What's in the qualification?

The qualification is very straight-forward. It consists of a single National Unit at SCQF level 4 (Intermediate 1). The Unit is entitled: 'Internet Safety'. There are four outcomes:

  1. Identify threats that can exist when using the internet.
  2. Describe safety precautions which should be taken when using the internet.
  3. Describe legal constraints which apply when using the internet.
  4. Take appropriate safety precautions and operate within relevant legal constraints when using the internet.

Download the Unit specification (54 KB).

The threats covered include identity theft, cyber-bullying, grooming, phishing and pharming (Outcome 1). Advice is provided on how best to combat these threats such as how to set-up virus protection and firewalls, and how to recognise online fraud (Outcome 2). The Unit also explains your legal responsibilities when using the internet and discusses issues such as copyright restrictions and intellectual property rights (Outcome 3). The final outcome puts all of this into practice by ensuring that students can actually take precautions and work safely when they're online.

How is it assessed?

Very simply. There are two assessments - one covering knowledge and one covering skills.

  1. The knowledge assessment consists of 25 multiple choice questions to assess students' knowledge of internet safety (such as the meaning of words or how to avoid certain threats).
  2. The practical assessment involves maintaining a diary (or a blog) to describe student activities and demonstrate how they protected themselves.

The knowledge assessment can easily be assessed online through SQA's e-assessment engine, called Solar.

Solar can be used for summative assessments and can be used by tutors and lecturers to create formative and practice assessments.

If you are a Scottish FE college you can currently access the knowledge assessment in Solar. If you are another SQA centre and would also like to use the online assessment through Solar, then please contact the Solar team. Or visit the Solar site at

Who is the qualification designed for?

Anyone who uses the internet. Although much of the media attention is on young people, mature users are just as likely to experience problems. So the Unit is designed for school pupils, college students, adults who work with children, people who shop online, and 'silver surfers'. It's also relevant to a wide range of professional occupations such as teachers, librarians, police officers and health care workers who may want to know more about the potential dangers facing the people in their charge.

How does my centre become involved?

If your centre is a Scottish school or college then you are already approved to offer the qualification. If not, then you need to seek approval by contacting SQA either by e-mail or telephone (0303 333 0330). Getting approval is normally very straight-forward.

What materials are available?

A comprehensive suite of teaching, learning and assessment material is available to centres. This material covers all of the outcomes and can be used in a variety of ways - from teacher-led delivery to student-centred learning.

  • Unit Specification (54 KB) details the national standard to be achieved in order for a student to gain this qualification.
  • Assessment Support Pack (ASP) provides information on how centres could generate the evidence to demonstrate that candidates have achieved the standard required. These materials are on SQA's secure which can be accessed by your centre's SQA Co-ordinator
  • Teacing and Learning Materials covering the whole course are available online. These comprehensive materials are ideal for teacher-led delivery for students to work through on their own. There is also a version of the above Teaching and Learning Materials that is suitable for those accessing the material from a mobile phone or other device with a small screen. These can be accessed at:
  • Delivery Guide (191 KB) explains how to use the material in a variety of different ways (such as face-to-face or distance learning).

Can students use the material for self-study?

Yes. The teaching and learning materials contain everything that students need to work through the Unit. The material is very flexible and can be used in a variety of ways, ranging from traditional (classroom) delivery to remote (online) delivery — and everything in-between. It's well suited to self-study and some pilot centres simply gave the materials to students to work through at their own pace.

Can I offer the qualification online?

Yes. Since the teaching and learning materials are available online, subject to appropriate quality assurance safeguards, your students can undertake this qualification wherever there is an internet connection at home, in the class, in the library - or even on the bus using a suitable mobile phone.

Is it suitable for S1/S2 pupils?

Yes. The qualification is an ideal introduction to using the internet. By undertaking the Unit at the beginning of their Secondary education, pupils will ensure that they are aware of the potential dangers facing them when they are online - and also know how to avoid these dangers. Some schools even offer the award to whole year groups to allow them the opportunity to learn how to stay safe online.

How do I find out more?

Have your say by joining our discussion group. If you have any further queries, please e-mail