Qualifications 2020 - Message to College Heads of Centre, and SQA Co-ordinators

Wednesday 13 May 2020

Since our joint statement with Colleges Scotland on 3 April, we have continued to work with Colleges Scotland and individual colleges, to put arrangements in place that will help to recognise learner achievement in as fair a way as possible, given the current circumstances.

We would like to provide you with an overview of the work undertaken so far and an update on progress with the remaining work.

National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses

In our update on 20 April, we confirmed that with no exams taking place this year and no feasible way for SQA to mark coursework, estimated grades will be the core element of certification.

We have provided you with information and support to help you produce and submit the required estimates by Friday 29 May.

Our 2020 Refined Estimate Submission service is now available from the homepage of SQA Connect, so you can begin entering and submitting refined estimates and rank order of learners for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses. Your SQA Connect administrator has access to this service and can also grant access to other members of staff through the ‘Maintain Centre Accounts’ section on the homepage.

Further information and frequently asked questions for you and your learners are available on our website.

Higher National Certificates and Diplomas, Professional Development Awards, National Certificates, National Progression Awards, Skills for Work courses and NQ free standing units

Together with Colleges Scotland, we provided you with guidance on 3 April. The guidance sets out the approach for college delivery and quality assurance of these qualifications, allowing for a flexible approach to assessment and evidence gathering that enables you to use your professional judgement to assess other evidence, including knowledge of your learners’ progress and achievements to date.

We have also provided additional subject specific guidance, for Higher Nationals and Professional Development Awards, to SQA Coordinators, to share within their college. This guidance highlights areas where changes to assessment are not possible, particularly in areas of risk to both self and others. For example, Dental Nursing and Social Care.

Please note that while flexibility around conditions of assessment may allow open book activities to replace established closed book practice, course teams should use their centre-devised instruments of assessment in the first instance. Where you intend to use centre-devised instruments of assessment that have previously been submitted to SQA for prior verification, and shared on our secure site, you must notify us at qvprior@sqa.org.uk.

We will provide subject-specific alternative instruments of assessments where possible, but SQA secure material should not be used without our prior permission. If required, please contact qvprior@sqa.org.uk to request alternative assessment material to be issued to you.

We will monitor the distribution and use of secure assessment materials. If the security of any national instrument of assessment is compromised, you must follow your established arrangements to report this to us immediately.

Colleges are asked to retain the evidence of course team decisions and Internal Quality Assurance panels, until 31 December 2020. College Quality Managers can assist with the documentation needed to support this. Candidate evidence retention periods remain unchanged for these qualifications.

Quality assurance processes have been adapted to allow for the change in approach for this session with the introduction of college quality panels, external to course teams. This allows for a consistency in approach to judgements across your college and ensures fairness and equity to all your learners. This information is also provided in the guidance document.
We have extended the deadline for submitting NQ free-standing unit results, from Monday 1 June, to Friday 12 June.

Frequently asked questions for you and your learners are available on our website.

Regulated Qualifications

We are working with SQA Accreditation and other regulatory bodies to consider whether adjustments can be made for some regulated qualifications, including Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) and licence to practise qualifications.

We have submitted our recommendations to the various bodies and are awaiting direction. When this is available it will be shared with colleges and published on our website.

We will continue to meet regularly with college representatives and, should you have any queries on any of the guidance provided to date, please discuss this with your own quality teams in the first instance.

Thank you for your patience and continued co-operation.

Jean Blair
Director of Operations

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