2020 Qualifications: NQ teacher/lecturer support

Latest information on the appeals process in 2020.

11 August 2020

As the Deputy First Minister has outlined in Parliament today, through a Ministerial direction SQA will change the previous approach to certification this year and instead award candidate results based solely on the estimates provided by schools and colleges. The results of those learners who were awarded a higher grade during the process will also be maintained.

We are considering in more detail, with the Scottish Government, any appeals process which should support this direction and will announce further details very shortly.

Read the full statement from the Chief Executive of SQA

Foundation Apprenticeships

Arrangements have been put in place to ensure that any Foundation Apprenticeship (FA) learners who were due to complete their FAs in June 2020 are not disadvantaged as a result of COVID 19.

Joint statement from Colleges Scotland, SQA, SDS and Universities Scotland on Foundation Apprenticeships (12 June 2020)

SQA coronavirus statements

Teacher questions answered

Exams

How do we appeal on the grounds that "the Head of Centre believes that there has been an error within SQA's internal processes for reinstating the original centre estimate"?

For appeals under Ground 1, centres should write to SQA detailing their concerns and email it to the address advised in SQA's message of 18 August.

What happened to this yearís examination diet?

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 national examination timetable has been cancelled.

The Scottish Government asked SQA to develop an alternative certification model to ensure that learnersí work is rightly and fairly recognised.

For this session, teachers and lecturers have used their professional judgement to estimate a learnerís grade and band based on the learners demonstrated and inferred attainment of the required skills, knowledge and understanding for each National Course.

SQA will work to ensure learners receive their results no later than Tuesday 4 August.

Who took the decision to cancel this yearís diet and what was the decision-making process?

As outlined in our statement, on 19 March 2020, the Deputy First Minister asked Scotlandís Chief Examining Officer to develop an alternative certification model following the cancellation of this yearís timetable.

Why were exams cancelled instead of pushing the timetable back later in the year?

This was considered as an alternative but with no clear timeline for when schools and colleges would be reopened, the Deputy First Minister asked SQA to develop an alternative certification model.

If this is all possible then why do we need an exam system from now on?

This is an unprecedented situation, and the closure of schools and colleges for an extended period means that it will not be possible for learners to sit exams as part of the 2020 exam diet. SQA will continue to work closely with the Scottish Government Education Recovery Group on future examinations.

Coursework

Do learners still need to undertake their practical assessments and/or coursework?

Higher and Advanced Higher

No. SQA has confirmed that schools and colleges are not required to submit learner coursework for marking for Higher and Advanced Higher courses.

Also, we do not require schools and colleges to submit marks for internally assessed coursework.

National 5

We confirmed earlier that National 5 coursework already submitted by schools and colleges will not be marked. We also do not require schools and colleges to submit marks for any internally assessed coursework.

Are schools and colleges required to send in copies of Internal Assessment Marking Forms?

No Ė schools and colleges should not send us Internal Assessment Mark Forms (IAMF). The marks and the coursework evidence are no longer required, given the information in our statement on coursework, published on 24 March.

Should schools and colleges still be asking learners to complete coursework, or other assessments, even though SQA no longer needs it?

There is no requirement for learners to complete coursework or other assessments. Schools and colleges are not required to set any more prelims or mock exams, or homework tasks for the purpose of determining an estimate grade.

Schools and colleges are best placed to make decisions about the completion of coursework, given their knowledge and understanding of the status of their learnersí coursework and the circumstances in which it can be completed, within current public health advice guidelines.

Markers

Does SQA have enough Markers in place to support this yearís activities?

With the decision to cancel the 2020 exam timetable, and no coursework being marked for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses, there is no need for the normal marking activities, this year.

We thank all those who were due to mark, for their willingness to do so, and for all the work they do for us.

External assessment visits/external verification visits

Are all external assessment visits, and external verifications visits, related to the NQ 2020 examination diet, cancelled?

Yes. All external assessment visits, and external verification visits related to this yearís examination diet, have been cancelled. While no further visiting assessment will take place this session, we know that some visiting assessors have already sent us marks from activities that were completed. We can confirm that these marks will not be used in determining learnersí final grades. We have taken this decision to be as fair as possible to all learners, as we do not have a complete set of data for all learners across all subjects that are marked by visiting assessors.

Entry fees/changes to entries

Are you going to charge late fees for changes to entries?

No. We can confirm that we will not be charging late fees, for any changes you make to entry levels or withdrawal of entries for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses, after 31 March.

While any new entries that you make will incur the usual entry fee, we will not charge you a late fee as well. In line with our normal data management processes, SQA will continue to monitor the data submitted by centres until certification.

However, it is essential that you provide complete and accurate data by the timelines set by SQA to ensure that learners are awarded the achievements they deserve and that they are able to take their next steps into further or higher education, employment or apprenticeships.

Will schools/colleges receive a refund of entry fees because there is no examination diet this year?

The charges raised by SQA are a levy for the certification of National Qualifications rather than a direct charge based on the cost of providing that certification.

As agreed with the Scottish Government, the level of charge made is unchanged from that in 2019-20 and indeed has remained the same since 2012-13.

Having considered the financial impact of Covid-19 and school closures on the independent schools sector in Scotland, the Scottish Government is delaying commencement of section 17 of the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Act 2020 until 1 April 2021. This decision was taken to assist mainstream independent schools as they - like all businesses in Scotland - deal with the impacts of Covid-19.

The Scottish Government is also working closely with the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS) in the Education Recovery Group, to ensure that the sector's concerns and specific requirements are considered in the planning for schools reopening.

Internally assessed qualifications, units and freestanding units

How should I result learners for internally assessed qualifications?

For internally assessed qualifications, you are required to determine a result for each unit. Where further progress is not possible, you should base your assessment decisions on available evidence from unit assessments that learners have already completed, or your professional judgement of other available evidence (such as class tests), or a combination of both. You must then submit these results to SQA in the normal way. Following feedback from centres, we have extended the deadline for unit results to Friday 12 June.

Please note that our process and guidance for producing estimates in session 2019-20 is for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses, which are externally assessed by SQA. It does not apply to these internally assessed qualifications.

Can a learner be resulted with a pass in a unit if they have met some, but not all, of the outcomes and assessment standards?

Yes, this may be possible. Where further progress is not possible, you should make a holistic professional judgement on whether the learner would have passed the unit.  

Where full evidence to satisfy the unit has not yet been generated, you must consider, and document, alternative learner evidence. When making assessment decisions
based on alternative evidence, you must consider a range of learner evidence with strong predictive value, such as class tests. This will give you an indication of the learnerís knowledge and skills.

If the unit is part of an internally assessed course, such as National 2 to National 4 and Skills for Work courses, and the learner has completed other units within the course, there may be transferable evidence from those units that you could use when making a holistic assessment decision.

Can a learner be resulted with a pass in a unit if they have not met any of the outcomes and assessment standards?

If the unit is part of an internally assessed course, further progress is not possible, and the learner has completed other units within the course, there may be transferable evidence from those units that you could use when making your assessment decisions.

Where full evidence to satisfy the unit has not yet been generated, you must consider, and document, alternative learner evidence. When making assessment decisions
based on alternative evidence, you must consider a range of learner evidence with strong predictive value, such as class tests. This will give you an indication of the learnerís knowledge and skills.

If a learner has passed one or more units in an internally assessed course, such as National 2 to National 4 and Skills for Work courses, but has not started the remaining units, can I also pass them for those remaining units?

Where full evidence to satisfy the aims of an internally assessed course has not yet been generated, and further progress is not possible, you must consider, and document, alternative learner evidence. You should consider whether the evidence from other units is transferrable to any of the remaining units. If it is, you could use it to make a holistic judgement on whether the learner has met the overall course aims. If there is enough evidence that the learner can be deemed to have met the course aims, then you can result them as having passed all units within the course.

What about freestanding units? Can evidence be transferred from one freestanding unit to another?

Yes, it is possible to result of freestanding units if the overall requirements of the unit are broadly met.

For freestanding units at all levels, you must consider the evidence that you have against the unit outcomes for each unit. This can include alternative evidence, such as class tests, where formal unit assessments have not been undertaken. This could also include evidence of transferable skills which are common across the units (such as problem-solving).

What do I do if I a learner has been withdrawn for National 5 and has now been entered for National 4?

You should review the learnerís performance/class work over their National 5 course to date, reflecting on the National 4 assessment standards. You should do this holistically for each individual candidate. You should ensure robust arrangements for agreeing the learnerís overall result, relative to the review of their National 5 work. There is no requirement this year to match candidate performance to the detailed National 4 unit evidence requirements; the approach is more about a broad comparability of overall standards. It is essential that you keep records to document this process.

What records should I keep of how I have reached my decisions on resulting internally assessed units?

You should retain all assessment evidence, and the justification for your decision making, until 31 December 2020 to enable SQA to verify the decision-making process in future.

It is advisable to keep a list of the learners you have entered and resulted for each unit and to note the following information for each learner:

  • State whether the learner is entered for a corresponding group award or doing the unit on a freestanding basis.
  • Record the result awarded for each learner, for each unit
  • State how the decision on the result was reached ó for example:
    • if you reviewed full or partial unit assessment evidence
    • if you reviewed other available evidence and/or used your professional judgement
    • if you used your professional judgment to consider evidence from other units within the same group award to determine if the learner has met the overall course or award aims

You must also include a statement or other indication of how your decisions have been peer reviewed and/or internally verified.

Here is an example of how you could collate and present this information:

What are the options for entering unit results?

When submitting unit results, you have the following result options:

Pass

The learner has met all the required outcomes and assessment standards, based on any of the following:

  • Complete unit assessment evidence
  • Partial unit assessment evidence plus other alternative evidence and professional judgement
  • Evidence from other units within the same group award, in relation to meeting the overall course or award aims

Fail

Based on the assessment evidence available, and using your professional judgement, the learner has not passed, or would not have passed, the unit.

Withdrawn

There is no available evidence, or insufficient evidence, to support a result decision

Open entry

Leave as open entry, if it is feasible to postpone assessment to a later date.

You should enter and submit unit results in the normal way. We have extended the deadline for unit results to Friday 12 June, following feedback from centres.

Qualifications delivered in partnership between schools and colleges

What arrangements should be made for learners undertaking qualifications delivered in partnership between schools and colleges?

As part of these partnerships, schools and colleges should work together to jointly agree whether it is possible to continue with learning, teaching and assessment. These decisions must be based on the best interests of individual learners.

Where some evidence of the course already exists but further progress is not possible, college lecturers will be able to take a holistic approach, where necessary, in making their assessment decisions. This will enable colleges to use their professional judgement to assess the available evidence, including other evidence produced by the learner, and their knowledge of the learnersí progress and achievements to date.

General

Will these qualifications be recognised by universities and employers?

Yes. SQA is in regular discussion with UCAS, Colleges Scotland, and Universities Scotland, who are fully aware of the situation and will help learners to progress on to the next stage of their education or employment. We are also in close discussion with Skills Development Scotland, to ensure employers and their representatives are kept aware of the decisions being made.

How will SQA ensure that learners get the grades they deserve

It is vital that we base our decisions on the principles of fairness to all learners, and the safe and secure certification of our qualifications, whilst recognising the current challenges we all face.

Are there any subjects where the grade is based solely on the exam?

Mathematics and Latin do not have coursework, but we use other information during the awarding process to determine grades, including teacher estimates and prior attainment.

Can learners sit their exams next year and use whatever result is better?

Yes, as in any year, learners can sit the exams next year if they wish. All results will be listed on their SQA record of attainment.