Assessing Higher National and Vocational Qualifications 2021-22

Alternative approaches to assessment have been developed to provide further flexibility for centres and learners, for session 2021-22, whilst maintaining the integrity of certification and public confidence.

These arrangements cover: Higher National Certificates and Diplomas, SQA Advanced Certificates and Diplomas, Professional Development Awards, National Progression Awards, National Certificates, Skills for Work, Awards and internally-assessed NQ Units.

Guidance is available from your respective subject pages.

The subject-specific guidance should be considered alongside this general guidance:

To support centres and learners and with assessment, SQA have produced subject alternative assessment approaches guidance which allows learners to generate sufficient evidence to meet assessment requirements.

These approaches look to combine and reduce assessment without compromising the standard of the award.

Some of the subject guidance also advises where it will be inappropriate to apply the alternative holistic approach to assessment (for example, standard setting agencies and/or professional registration requirements).

To further support centres and learners and with assessment, SQA have produced enhanced subject guidance on assessment and in some areas critical competences.

These can be used by centres dealing with the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on teaching and learning, if required.

Enhanced subject guidance is at the bottom of the decision tree and are the most extreme alternative assessment approaches.

Critical competence template and exemplar

The critical competence template and exemplar supports you with work which will be required for locally devised awards:

The spreadsheet contains links to the alternative assessment guidance (68 KB) that is available for each subject. Please note not all Group Awards have subject guidance, please refer to the decision tree for further information.

Assessment decision tree

This Decision Tree will support centres in determining the appropriate route for assessment of the Group Award, using evidence based professional judgement.

Is it possible for traditional unit-by-unit assessment to take place in line with Unit Specification?
Proceed as normal
(Traditional model of Internal Verification applied)
Is it possible to assess on a traditional unit-by-unit basis to generate evidence for all outcomes using permitted adaptions (adjustment to conditions of assessment)?
Refer to subject-specific guidance
Use agreed flexibility to adapt assessment and gather evidence for all outcomes (August 2021 guidance) (Traditional model of internal Verification applied)
Is the qualification (in part or whole) subject to regulation / professional body requirements / restrictions?
Postpone assessment
Assess to course aims following any subject guidance/critical competencies published by SQA
Determine the assessment result (pass, postpone or fail)