Changes to Visiting Assessment Arrangements for National Qualifications

Thursday 26 November 2020

SQA has reviewed its visiting assessment arrangements for the following Higher, and Advanced Higher assessments in session 2020-21:

Candidates' performances are normally assessed by an SQA visiting assessor who attends the school or college in person. However, given current public health advice and the protective measures that are in place across Scotland, it will not be possible for visiting assessment to take place as normal this session.

We have been working with a range of stakeholders, including Education Scotland, to review each subject individually and agree suitable alternative approaches to visiting assessment in session 2020-21. We also consulted with our National Qualifications Support Teams (NQSTs), including teachers who are actively involved in delivering these courses.

Gàidhlig, and Modern Languages

For session 2020-21, we are working on an alternative model of remote visiting assessment for the Advanced Higher Gàidhlig, and Modern Languages performance-talking assessments. For these assessments, candidates take part in a discussion with an SQA visiting assessor, so we are exploring solutions that will enable candidates to do this within the centre while being assessed by a visiting assessor remotely.

Dance, Drama, and Music

For session 2020-21, teachers and lecturers will be required to internally assess the Higher Dance performance and practical activity, the Higher, and Advanced Higher Drama performance, and the Higher, and Advanced Higher Music performances, in line with SQA marking instructions. This will be supported by external quality assurance from SQA. If a centre is selected for verification, they will be asked to provide SQA with audio or video recordings of candidates' performances to enable us to quality assure the marking.

For Higher and Advanced Higher Music, we are currently working through how best to support centres with assessing bagpipe and pipe band drumming performances.

We are also finalising the date by which centres will be required to submit their Dance, Drama, and Music performance marks to SQA. This will be no earlier than end of April 2021. We will provide further advice and guidance as soon as possible.

Consultation on further modifications to Drama, and Music performances

We acknowledge the challenges that teachers and lecturers are facing with learning, teaching and assessment in Drama and Music while complying with Government guidelines — and the impact this could have on the performance assessments. To address this, we are planning further modifications to these assessments to support teachers and lecturers, and candidates, as much as we can.

Today, we are launching two new consultations on our proposed modifications to Higher and Advanced Higher Drama and Music performances. This also includes further modifications to performance assessment at other levels, where applicable.

We welcome feedback from a range of audiences, including young people, to help us to determine how these modifications might work in practice. To share your feedback with us, please read through these proposals and complete the relevant survey, using the links below.

The consultations will close on Thursday 3 December. We will share the results of the survey and confirm the modifications to the assessments week commencing 7 December.

Next steps

We are working through the practical details of the remote visiting assessment approach for Gàidhlig and Modern Languages, and the internal assessment approach for Dance, Drama and Music — including marking and quality assurance. We are also looking at how we can support centres to transition to these arrangements.

We understand that this is an extremely challenging time for centres, and we will provide more information and guidance as soon as it becomes available.

Thank you for your continued support, understanding and patience.

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