Update from the National Qualifications 2021 Group: Assessment approach to National 5

Wednesday 11 November 2020

The National Qualifications 2021 Group is meeting weekly to consider qualifications arrangements in the 2020-21 session. This group draws its membership from the Association of Directors of Education Scotland (ADES), Colleges Scotland, Education Scotland, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), School Leaders Scotland (SLS), the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS), Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and the Scottish Government. 

SQA is supporting National 5 certification by publishing subject specific guidance. In addition, SQA will also start to publish assessment resources this week. 

These resources include:

  • SQA devised National 5 question papers and marking instructions that will be published on SQA’s secure website,
  • Understanding Standards materials to reinforce practitioners’ understanding of the national standard, including guidance on making grading decisions.

This additional package of support is intended to help teachers and lecturers in their understanding of the standards to be applied to assessment evidence, with a particular  focus on gathering key pieces of evidence that have a high predictive value aligned to the required assessment components. The shared question papers are not intended for use as prelim exams.

Focus should remain on the quality of the pieces of evidence (two to four depending on subject requirements) rather than the quantity - to ensure that we manage the assessment load for learners and to minimise workload for teachers.

Given current public health advice and to maximise learning and teaching time, it is important to stress that there is no expectation that schools and colleges hold a formal diet of prelims for National 5. One of the key reasons for moving to an alternative model was to create additional teaching time through removing the need for prelims and replacing the final examination diet with more flexible classroom-based assessment.

All assessment resources should be used flexibly within schools and colleges to assess candidates at key points in their learning. The subject specific guidance will indicate the appropriate assessment conditions. Centres can adapt assessment approaches, such as splitting a question paper component, to fit delivery within class periods.

SQA’s generic guidance on gathering evidence for the purpose of estimation outlines that candidate evidence should be gathered at the later stages of their learning. Gathering and judging different types of key evidence from across the course, means that the estimates submitted by teachers and lecturers are more likely to be a realistic reflection of a candidate’s attainment across the course.

To stay up to date on 2021 National Qualifications visit www.sqa.org.uk/NQ2021.

National Qualifications 2021 Group