2020 Qualifications: NQ learner support

Wednesday 19 August 2020

We have provided schools, colleges and local authorities with a report confirming their candidates’ final grades based solely on school and college estimates, as directed by the Deputy First Minister on Tuesday 11 August. The results of those learners who were awarded a higher grade during the process will be maintained.

We have supplied UCAS with the results and these should be disseminated to universities and colleges on Thursday 20 August.

Revised certificates

Revised certificates will be with you on Tuesday 8 September.


The Ministerial direction included an Appeals process, that is in place and due to conclude in early September. The outcome of Priority Appeals will be communicated to centres and UCAS by Friday 4 September. All other appeals will be communicated to centres by the end of September.

If you have any questions about your results, please speak to your school or college.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Because Foundation Apprenticeships blend classroom and workplace learning - COVID-19 restrictions have meant it has been difficult to complete the work-based elements and assessments.

Visit Foundation Apprenticeships for the latest information.

Some of your common questions - with answers


I don't agree with the estimates that my school or college submitted. How can I appeal them?

We have provided schools and colleges with full information on the revised appeals process and you should therefore discuss your concerns directly with your school or college.

I want to appeal against my estimated grades. What grounds can I appeal on?

Following the Scottish Government announcement of 11 August, final results are now in line with estimates provided by schools and colleges. Estimates upgraded by SQA during the moderation process have been maintained. The academic judgements applied during the estimation process cannot be appealed. The only circumstances where a school or college can now request an appeal are:

  1. your school or college believes that there has been an error within SQA's internal processes for reinstating the original centre estimate
  2. your school or college believes that there has been an administrative error within the centre leading to provision of estimate information to SQA which did not accurately reflect the centre's intention at the time of submission, and/or*
  3. your school or college believes that there has been discrimination or other conduct contrary to the Equality Act 2010 identified within the centre relating to protected characteristics, leading to the provision of estimate information to SQA which does not accurately reflect the centre's view following investigation of the circumstances carried out by the centre.

My school or college says it can't appeal under the new process. What can I do now?

Please use your school or college's internal procedure to take this complaint further.

I've used my school or college complaints procedure but I'm still not happy with the outcome. What action can I take now?

The relevant complaints procedure within the school or college should explain your options to escalate your appeal, for example you may be able to refer your complaint to the local authority or to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

I've been told that I can't appeal the academic judgement of my estimated grade under the appeals process. Why is this?

Academic judgements made during the estimation process cannot be appealed. Schools and colleges undertook a rigorous process in May 2020 to decide estimates, which included internal quality assurance measures such as review of estimates by more than one teacher and approval by the Head of centre. As announced on 11 August, SQA was directed to adopt centre estimates as the basis of awarding in 2020 and that the planned appeals process involving review of evidence by SQA subject experts was not needed. Therefore, the revised appeals process does not include a review of academic judgements of estimated grades.

What should I do if I'm concerned that my child was discriminated against and I think it impacted on the estimate that they were given?

If you are concerned that there has been discrimination or any other conduct that is contrary to the Equality Act 2010, the school or college will undertake an internal review to investigate if a candidate's estimate was affected and will submit an appeals to SQA should they conclude that this has been the case.

Previous questions you've asked

Which qualifications are covered by the guidance in this section?

The guidance in this section is currently relevant to the following SQA qualifications:

  • National 2 to National 5 courses
  • Highers
  • Advanced Highers
  • Scottish Baccalaureate Interdisciplinary Project unit
  • National Certificates (NC)
  • National Progression Awards (NPA)
  • Skills for Work courses
  • Awards

Why did SQA take the decision to cancel the exams?

Following the latest medical and scientific advice, The Scottish Government decided to cancel the exam diet due to social distancing and to keep everyone safe.

What about pushing the exam timetable back to later in the year?

We did think about this however, as we don't know when your school or college will reopen, the Deputy First Minister asked SQA to look at another way to produce your results.

How will National Courses be certificated?

Following the Deputy First Minister’s announcement on 11 August 2020 your results will be awarded based solely on the estimates provided by your schools and colleges.

Experienced teachers and lecturers reviewed all the evidence that was available to them to assess whether you had met the course aims. They have a strong understanding of your performance and know how you compare to other learners in each department, and in previous years.

Your teachers/lecturers took account of any available work that you had completed throughout the course. Using their teaching experience, and their knowledge of your work and your progress so far, they made an estimate of the grade you would have achieved under normal circumstances.

What does this mean for National 2 to National 4 courses and the Scottish Baccalaureate Interdisciplinary Project?

National 2, National 3 and National 4 qualifications are made up of units (including an Added Value Unit at National 4) which are internally assessed as pass or fail by the school or college, and externally quality assured by SQA.

Schools and colleges will continue to send us your unit results based on either existing evidence from assessments that have already been completed, and/or by using their teaching experience of your work from through the year. The same arrangement applies to the Scottish Baccalaureate Interdisciplinary Project unit.

What about other internally assessed qualifications, such as National Certificates, National Progression Awards and Skills for Work courses?

For National Certificates, National Progression Awards, Skills for Work courses, and other Awards, we are asking schools, colleges, employers and training providers to provide us with the results of their internal assessment decisions (where some evidence from the course already exists but further progress is not possible) using their teaching experience of your work through the year.

Why aren’t you marking my coursework?

Coursework for Higher and Advanced Higher courses are submitted later in the year, so as a result of the current public health advice on social distancing, you may not be able to complete it and we would not be able to receive it and mark it.

We looked at the possibilities of marking National 5 coursework that we had already received, however it became clear that we could not go ahead with marking it in a way that was safe and secure for the hundreds of markers who work with us over the course of the exam diet, or in a way that ensures all results are viewed with the same importance as those from previous and future years.

We know this will be disappointing news. But we have taken this difficult decision to be as fair as possible to all learners, whilst responding to and following the latest public health guidance.

Can I progress to the next stage of my education or employment with the grades I receive?

Yes. SQA is in regular discussion with UCAS (the University and College Admission Service), Colleges Scotland, and Universities Scotland, who are fully aware of the situation and will help you to progress on to the next stage of your 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.

Can I sit my exams next year and use whatever result is better?

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

I have been studying for a National Course at home/with a private tutor. What arrangements are there for me?

As an approved centre, your school or college has a responsibility to gather the appropriate evidence that will enable them to submit a refined estimate for you. It is for the school or college to decide what evidence they are prepared to accept and review, such as work you have completed throughout the year at home or with your private tutor. The school or college needs to be happy to authenticate this evidence and use it as a basis for your estimate. They may wish to discuss this further with you.

If the school or college is unable to authenticate this evidence – or they have no evidence upon which to base an estimate for you – they will be unable to submit an estimate grade. If this is the case, they will have no option but to withdraw you from the course.

If the school or college chooses not to proceed, you will need to be entered for the course by another SQA-approved centre, and that centre will also be required to submit an estimate grade to us. Your local authority may be able to advise you of any centres in your area that will accept new entries for external candidates.


Here is a range of free resources you may find useful while the schools are closed.

Home learning resources

Past papers for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher

Past papers can help you prepare for exams - and you don't need a teacher to check answers as marking instructions are included too.

Download past papers and marking instructions

BBC Bitesize

Use BBC Bitesize to help with your homework and learning - find videos, step-by-step guides, activities and quizzes. Bitesize also has daily lessons in a range of subjects.


Links to learning resources that have been recommended by teachers and learners.

Browse learning resources on Ushare

Mental health and wellbeing support

Reach: Get help - My learning and support during coronavirus

With all the changes happening because of coronavirus, you may be feeling worried, depressed or overwhelmed.

Find advice to help you cope with the changes on Reach.

Young Scot: Aye Feel

Advice on looking after your mental wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Get advice from Young Scot.

SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health): Children and young people

Guides on dealing with stress and looking after your mental health.

View and download the SAMH guides.

LGBT Youth Scotland: Mental health

Find information on support services, counselling and other resources.

Get support from LGBT Youth Scotland.