College staff

If you are delivering HNC, HND, National Certificates, National Progression Awards or NQ freestanding units.


How can assessment judgements be standardised across the sector?

The assessment guidance we have provided to colleges supports standardisation of approach across the sector. These are truly exceptional circumstances and it will not be possible to moderate assessment judgements sector wide. Colleges will apply professional judgement and evidence to deliver fair and reasonable outcomes for their students.

How do colleges quality assure?

Internal Quality Assurance will be strengthened within each college to support, advise, moderate and confirm the work of course teams in line with SQA guidance. This will support the change from assessment decisions being made by individual assessors to a more holistic, course team approach to decision making.

Can colleges still share resources and approaches across the sector?

SQA will support with guidance and resources wherever possible. Colleges may use existing networks for sharing of resources where possible and practicable. However, approaches for supporting students in generating assessment evidence are dependent on a wide range of local factors, including the stage to which assessment has already been achieved, access to equipment and resources, and remote communication networks. Therefore, assessment approaches and conditions will be based on professional judgement at a local level.

Will college staff be able to devise and implement alternative assessment instruments without having these prior verified?

In these exceptional circumstances, the approaches to alternative assessment and the development of any additional assessment methods would be entrusted to the professional judgement of the course team, and subject to normal internal verification arrangements.

How will all of this apply to students with additional support needs?

Staff should choose the most appropriate assessment method to make the assessment accessible. This will be in partnership with college student support services. This could include, for example, the use of professional discussion as an alternative to written evidence if a scribe is usually required.

Can colleges use open-book assessment in lieu of closed-book?

Yes, this would be a suitable alternative approach in some cases, in agreement with SQA. For example, it may be desirable to set this as a timed assessment. Whilst flexibility around conditions of assessment may allow open-book activities to replace established closed-book practice, care must be taken not to compromise existing secure assessment materials.

How can colleges apply a grade to a Graded Unit where this cannot be completed and may even be the weakest element of available evidence?

The Graded Unit is the summation and application of the candidate’s understanding of mandatory units in the HNC or HND to meet the course aims. The course team, through a professional discussion, review the quality and sufficiency of candidate evidence, in addition to any work submitted for the Graded Unit, to determine a grade.

What about SVQs? Can colleges apply the same guidance?

No, SVQs are subject to regulatory requirements, and separate guidance will be issued in respect of these.

What about other awarding bodies? Can we apply SQA’s guidance to their qualifications? Or their guidance to SQA qualifications?

No, each awarding body will detail their own arrangements for their own qualifications, and separate guidance will be issued in respect of these.

Does there need to be evidence for all outcomes?

Where possible, outcome decisions should be based on a holistic review of all available candidate evidence, as well as staff knowledge of their candidates, their engagement, progress and their achievements to date. This may include areas where the available evidence is used to infer competence or predict an outcome that is reasonable and justifiable in respect of the wider evidence base available.

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 learners’ progress and achievements to date.