NPA in Social Services and Healthcare

NPA in Social Services and Healthcare

National Progression Awards (NPAs) assess a defined set of skills and knowledge in specialist vocational areas, linked to National Occupational Standards.

The NPA Social Services and Healthcare is a combination of assessment and practice based experience: introducing key care learning themes that can be a basis for future development. It is also a requirement of the Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Services and Healthcare at SCQF level 6 and provides the underpinning knowledge of the SVQ 2 Social Services and Healthcare mandatory units. The SVQ 2 Social Services and Healthcare is the benchmark qualification for registration with Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) as a support worker.

This NPA develops knowledge and understanding of the care sector; practical and transferable skills; oral, written and evaluation abilities; problem solving and planning capabilities; skills for working with others; and organisational and communication skills. The topics covered include social services in Scotland, communication in care relationships, safeguarding people, safe practice and wellbeing in social services, and human development and social influences.

The qualification is available through schools, colleges and training providers.

Why deliver this qualification

NPAs are trusted because they are developed by practitioners from industry and are supported by Skills for Care and Development, the relevant sector skills council (SSC). Based on the relevant National Occupational Standards, industry has recognised that the qualification fits the job.

The NPA in Social Services at SCQF level 6 offers current, fit for purpose, bite-sized chunks of learning that are straightforward for centres to adopt and for learners to study. New skills can be gained quickly and cost effectively.

NPAs provide opportunities for partnership delivery that can provide benefits for partners and increase options for learners.

NPAs can add value and breadth to a CV for a learner by developing vocational skills.

This NPA covers SCQF level 6, allowing clear progression and development routes to:

  • higher level education
  • to employment

This NPA provides opportunities to develop:

  • Core Skills (which underpin all National Certificates)
  • transferable skills
  • employability skills           

The NPA could be offered in one of the following modes:

  • full-time
  • part-time
  • evening provision

Who does this qualification suit

The NPA is suitable for:

  • learners who are at school in S5 and S6 who may wish to undertake the NPA as part of the Foundation Apprenticeship Social Services and Healthcare
  • mature candidates who may have been out of education for a long period of time
  • individuals who are currently in employment and wish to obtain a formal qualification
  • those who are looking to access HN programmes
  • employees who want to develop their careers
  • individuals who are seeking national recognition of their achievements
  • employers who wish their employees to take part in short continuing professional development courses


Entry is at the discretion of the centre. However, it is recommended that learners entering the SCQF level 6 award should have completed some learning at National 5 level, or equivalent.


The SCQF level 6 award could provide progression to:

  • SCQF/QCF level 7
  • an HNC in Social Services
  • an NC in Early Education and Childcare
  • an SVQ 2/ Modern Apprenticeship in Social Services and Healthcare
  • an SVQ 2 Social Services (Children and Young People)
  • an SVQ 3 in Social Services and Healthcare
  • employment in the care sector


Centres with devolved authority for approval should use their own internal approval process.

Centres without devolved authority will have to come forward for approval and should contact SQA’s Business Development Team for guidance.

Assessors and verifiers must be able to meet SQA’s general requirements for technical/occupational competence as outlined in the Guide to Approval.

How to assess

Assessment of this award will be a combination of practical and knowledge assessment. It is recommended that centres refer to the assessment and evidence requirements for each unit.

Assessment/e-assessment support packs will be made available for this qualification.

The delivery of the award is at the individual centre’s discretion. 

Qualification content and delivery tools

Qualification structure

The NPA Social Services and Healthcare at SCQF level 6 consists of five mandatory units (24 SCQF credit points).

For further information on the Units and structure of the qualification please refer to the Group Award Specification document.

Group award specification

GL3W46 (484 KB)

Additional Resources

DP NPA Social Services and Healthcare Resources (87 KB)