Close and go back to newsletter

SQA News 10 December 2020

Further modifications to Drama and Music performances 

Our consultations on further proposed modifications to Drama and Music performances closed last week. Thank you to everyone who took the time to participate in the consultations. We received support for the proposed modifications, which we are introducing for the remainder of session 2020-21. 

We recognise that we are introducing these changes late in the session. However, it has been necessary to adapt to ongoing restrictions to Drama and Music activities in schools, and to comply with the latest Scottish Government public health guidance, in the context of the uncertainty and changing public health landscape presented by Covid-19. The modifications offer more flexibility and optionality to enable candidates to demonstrate their skills, and achieve the best mark possible, under challenging circumstances. 

Drama - National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher 

For performances in National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher Drama, we are recommending the number of candidates that can be assessed in group performances, and we have revised the timings for performances based on the number of candidates involved. 

At Higher we have reduced the number of interactive roles candidates are assessed on from two to one. 

At National 5, we have introduced alternative evidence requirements for specific production roles, for the purpose of gathering evidence to produce estimates. 

We are publishing a modification summary document to explain the changes in detail. We are also updating our guidance on gathering evidence to produce estimates for National 5 Drama. These will be available by the end of this week. 

Music - National 3, National 4, National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher 

For the performance components at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher, the added value unit at National 4 and the Music: Performing Skills Units at National 3 and 4, candidates now have the option of performing on either

Candidates who choose to be assessed on one instrument or voice will need to perform more pieces on their selected instrument (or voice). 

For all candidates, there is no requirement to change instruments or change to one instrument and voice. For some candidates, changing their approach may a suitable option. Equally, candidates can continue preparing for the performances as already planned, where it is agreed that this is in the best interests of the candidate.

Brass, woodwind and voice candidates 

Advice from the Scottish Government's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children's Issues may not allow for assessment of brass, woodwind and voice candidates to take place in centres. If this is the case, candidates must record themselves performing at home. 

Education Scotland advise that any Music teachers who are experiencing challenges with ensuring that they have enoughequipment to loan to brass, woodwind and voice candidates to make recordings, should work with their school senior leaders to ensure equipment is made available. 

We are updating the following documents to provide more information, and these will be available by the end of this week: 

Arrangements for Higher and Advanced Higher   

The Deputy First Minister has announced that there will be no external assessment of Higher and Advanced Higher courses, and that the 2021 exam diet is now cancelled. As outlined in SQA's response to the Deputy First Minister's announcement, it is anticipated that the approach to awarding Highers and Advanced Highers will be broadly the same as National 5, which is based on the professional judgement of teachers and lecturers. You will not be required to submit internal assessment marks for Higher and Advanced Higher performances, as we previously advised.

We will provide you with further information and guidance on the awarding approach for Higher and Advanced Higher including examples to help with assessing candidate performance as soon as possible.   

Background information— COVID-19 guidelines for Drama and Music 

The COVID-19 guidelines for Drama and Music are set by Education Scotland based on the scientific advice of the Scottish Government's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children's Issues. These guidelines are reviewed on a regular basis and include: 

The full guidelines for each subject are available from the Education Scotland website. 

View Education Scotland's practical activities guidelines