Assessing Higher National and Vocational Qualifications 2020-21

Alternative approaches to assessment have been developed to provide further flexibility for centres and learners, during the current restrictions, 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 available

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

Some of this guidance is being revised in light of continued restrictions and feedback from centres, including feedback from the consultation with centres in February 2021.

The guidance is available to download from your subject pages. This spreadsheet contains a full list (with links) of the subject-specific guidance released in September 2020.

To support centres delivering and assessing Higher National and vocational qualifications (HNVQ) we have produced information which shows what subject guidance, originally published in autumn 2020, has been revised.

We have provided information on critical competence to support centres using a holistic approach to assessment of HNVQs. Critical competence have only been produced for awards where it is necessary to complement the group awards aims.

The guidance and any critical competence information is available from individual subject pages. The spreadsheet shows the Awards that have updated information published.

Last updated: 25/03/2021
Awards in total 752
Awards updated to date: 752

Critical competence template and exemplar

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

We have produced tailored guidance for colleges and schools, detailing how vocational qualifications can be assessed this year:

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 2020 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)