National Progression Award in Software Development at SCQF level 6

National Progression Award in Software Development at SCQF level 6

National Progression Awards (NPAs) assess a defined set of skills and knowledge in specialist vocational areas, linked to National Occupational Standards (NOS). The NPA in Software Development at SCQF level 6 introduces learners to techniques that are important in the IT sector such as Computing Applications Development, Computing: Authoring a Website, and Software Design and Development.

The principal aim of the qualification is to provide learners with programming skills and prepare them for employment as entry-level computer programmers.

This NPA is primarily designed for use within a Foundation Apprenticeship (FA) in IT. This is part of a wider FA initiative by Skills Development Scotland to increase the range of work-based learning opportunities for pupils in the senior phase of secondary education. It provides seamless progression into a full Modern Apprenticeship but can also be used as a precursor to the PDA suite of qualifications in Software Development at SCQF levels 7 to 9.

As the title indicates, this NPA is entirely focused on software development, including applications and websites. There is a complementary NPA in Professional Computer Fundamentals which focuses on hardware and system support.

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 the relevant sector skills council (SSC), Tech Partnership. Industry has recognised that the qualification fits the job.

The Scottish Government’s ICT Skills Investment Plan has a number of key objectives, and this NPA is designed to address the first two of these:

  • Increased demand for ICT and digital technologies

Professionals are needed both within the industry and in other industries to enable growth ensuring Scotland remains competitive in a global market.

  • Promoting new entry routes into the industry

It's important to raise awareness of the range of routes into the sector including transition training and Modern Apprenticeships. 

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

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

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

  • full-time (eg as a fast-track into full a NC or HN programme)
  • part-time (eg day-release)
  • open and distance learning
  • infill into existing classes
  • evening provision

Who does this qualification suit

The NPA is suitable for:

  • learners who are in the senior phase of secondary education
  • individuals who are currently in employment and wish to obtain a formal qualification
  • those who are looking to access the PDA suite in Software Development at levels 7 to 9
  • 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.

No previous knowledge of computer programming is necessary, but all learners will be expected to have some skills in the use of standard IT systems and application software (eg word processing, spreadsheet, graphics etc.). However, learners would benefit from prior achievements such as relevant National 5 Courses or component Units.


This qualification is designed to be part of a Foundation Apprenticeship which articulates to the Modern Apprenticeship in IT and Telecommunications. It will also provide a good basis for progression to higher level qualifications in Software Development, eg the PDA in Software Development at SCQF levels 7 to 9.


Centres not already approved to deliver this qualification need 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 Systems and Qualification Approval Guide.

How to assess

Assessment of this award will be a combination of practical and knowledge assessments under closed- and open-book assessment conditions. It is recommended that centres refer to the assessment and Evidence Requirements for each Unit.

Assessment Support Packs are available on the SQA secure web site for all three of the qualification units.

The delivery of the award is at the individual centre’s discretion. However, it is strongly recommended that Unit Software Design and Development should be delivered first, and more specifically Outcome 1.

Qualification content and delivery tools

Modern Apprenticeship

This NPA is part of the Foundation Apprenticeship in IT, which articulates to the Modern Apprenticeship in IT and Telecommunications

Qualification content and delivery tools

Qualification Structure

Group Award code: GL4W 46 (21 SCQF credit points)

The NPA in Software Development at SCQF level 6 consists of 3 mandatory Units (21 SCQF credit points).

For further information of the structure and units for this qualification please refer to the Group Award Specification document.