Contingency arrangement for incomplete evidence for graded National Courses in 2021

2 June 2021

Context and rationale 

We recognise that some learners have been unduly disadvantaged by severe disruption to learning and teaching throughout the 2020–21 session.

One of the ways we are offering support to those learners is by providing a contingency arrangement for centres to submit provisional results by noon on 3 September 2021. This arrangement will apply if, despite completing the course, learners have not been able to complete all the required assessment by 25 June.  

Taking full advantage of the flexibility of the Alternative Certification Model (ACM) to support teachers’ professional judgement, you should do all you can to ensure that learners generate sufficient evidence by 25 June. Where this has not been possible, you should consider the situation carefully and advise learners on which of the available options would be in their best interests:  

The National Qualifications 2021 Group is conscious of the practical considerations arising from this arrangement: precisely how and when the required evidence would be generated, how and when quality assured provisional results would be provided to SQA, and the implications for potential school and college leavers.  

It is important to state that there are no expectations of any related school/college activity during the summer holiday period. 

While we anticipate that relatively few learners will need to utilise this arrangement, it is nonetheless an important approach towards providing greater equity in the system for those whose opportunity to engage with the assessment process has been disproportionately disrupted by the pandemic. 


This contingency arrangement is designed for learners who have undertaken the required learning in their course and are close to completing all of their assessment evidence. These are learners who - through no fault of their own - are missing a small amount of the required assessment evidence. For these learners, you could consider this incomplete evidence contingency arrangement if it is feasible that any assessment that is outstanding on 25 June can be completed, assessed and quality assured by noon on the 3 September submission date.  

This arrangement is a ‘safety net’ for learners who need a small amount of additional time to complete the assessment requirements set out in the subject-specific guidance. It is not intended to address insufficiency of time for learning and teaching in the centre. It is intended to enable learners who have been able to engage sufficiently with learning and teaching but not the assessment process, to produce the required assessment evidence so that a provisional result can be submitted for them.  

The contingency arrangement would cover learners who have experienced extreme disruption during the centre’s evidence-gathering process. Examples might include: 

This arrangement must not be used as an opportunity to delay assessment and to seek benefit from an extended period of preparation over the summer break. Nor does it enable learners to have another opportunity for assessment that has already been undertaken, in pursuit of a higher grade. It is not a resit. 


Learners would be eligible to appeal any results submitted by noon on 3 September. However, due to higher education institute timescales, it would not be possible to use the priority appeals service. 

How and when the required evidence would be generated

How and when quality assured provisional results would be provided to SQA  

Implications for potential school/college leavers  

Impact assessments

SQA has produced an Equalities Impact Assessment (168 KB) and a Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (182 KB) that summarise the evidence SQA considered during the development of the incomplete evidence contingency arrangement.

Frequently asked questions

Our frequently asked questions provide more information on the incomplete evidence contingency arrangement.