Young Scot and SQA launch new report examining the future of assessment

A new report (3.30 MB) written by young people from across Scotland setting out their ideas and recommendations for how the assessment of qualifications can be improved for future generations has been published.

Written by the #SQAfutures panel, a group of young volunteers aged 16-18 from across Scotland, the report outlines some key areas that young people believe need to be looked at by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and others delivering education to young people in Scotland.

The report authors – who were supported by Young Scot throughout the process – recommend that SQA look at ways to adapt the way it assesses its qualifications to help young people prepare for life after school and in the workplace. The report forms part of a wider review being undertaken by SQA of how assessment for qualifications may need to adapt to reflect changes in the workplace and wider society in the age of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’.

The report also asks SQA to critically evaluate the methods it uses in its assessments, and to look closely at whether its assessments are equitable for all young people.

Among other ideas presented to SQA in the report were:

  • To give young people the opportunity to be involved in the development of new qualifications and assessments;
  • To make assessment reflective of future workplace practices;
  • To introduce the option to type instead of writing by hand for all young people sitting exams;
  • To give young people greater opportunity to inform SQA’s plans for use of digital approaches to assessment more widely; and
  • To incorporate life skills into an assessment portfolio.

Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive of Young Scot, said: "We’re very pleased that the SQA is taking on board the thoughts, feeling and experiences of young people from across Scotland on an important issue that will affect all young people in this, the Year of Young People, and beyond.

“The publication of the #SQAfutures report is a great way of bringing the views of young people to something which affects young people from across the country. It will allow the SQA to assess, improve, and build upon the processes which all young people have, or will, experience.”

Alongside the report, SQA has published a formal response to the panel’s recommendations (350 KB), outlining its commitments to engaging with young people, and taking on their views in the future.

Dr Janet Brown, SQA Chief Executive said: “Our qualifications and assessments are part of the life experience of all young people in Scotland. But this life experience is changing in ways that were difficult to predict only a few years ago, and will continue to change with consequences that we cannot yet foresee.

“It’s appropriate that especially during 2018, the Year of Young People, that we engage fully with young people and take on their views as they have a very significant stake in how qualifications and assessment need to change to reflect our future society and economy.

“We have listened to their views and adopted three key actions that we will take forward. Importantly, we will continue to engage with young people and will focus on specific areas of work identified in the report; we will co-design a new approach to assessing competence in the skills highlighted in the report, particularly in the area of lifeskills; and we will develop an overarching commitment and approach to engaging with young people which recognises them as a key stakeholder group.”

Martyn Ware, Head of Assessment Futures at SQA, added: “I have been very impressed by the enthusiasm from the members of the #SQAfutures panel, and I welcome the thoughtful contributions they have made. The work they have produced has been carefully considered and thought provoking, and I look forward to continuing to work with young people as we take forward some of the report’s key recommendations.”

Katie Brown, is a member of the #SQAfutures panel. She said: “I am so excited to have this report published as we’ve worked really hard on it. I hope it can really make the exam process improve and make it more inclusive for everyone of all needs.”

Fellow member Becky Gillan said, “This was an important project to me as I often feel as if young people’s views are neglected when it comes to making important decisions about exams. I got involved as I had many ideas about the future of exams and thought that #SQAfutures was an ideal way to express these.”

A copy of the Young Scot Report is available via this link (3.30 MB). SQA's response to the report is available via this link (350 KB).