National Qualifications and Higher National and Vocational Qualifications in session 2021-22

Wednesday 23 June 2021

As we come to the end of what has been a challenging 2020-21 session, we want to thank all schools, colleges, employers and training providers, and all our partners and stakeholders in Scottish education and training, for their collaboration, support, patience and understanding as we have worked together to support Scotland's learners to achieve the qualifications they deserve.

We recognise that this is still an uncertain time, and the disruption to learning experienced by centres and learners this year will continue to impact on learning, teaching and assessment as we progress into session 2021-22.

We want to provide a short update on the work we are doing with our partners to make appropriate arrangements for the delivery of National Qualifications, and Higher National and Vocational Qualifications, in session 2021-22. Fairness to learners is central to our thinking.

We have taken advice and guidance from both the National Qualifications (NQ) 2021 group and the Higher National and Vocational Qualifications (HNVQ) 2021 group about the approach to modifications to assessment in NQ and HNVQ respectively. This includes discussing the most effective way to engage with teaching professionals delivering NQ and HNVQ qualifications.

National Qualifications

Our qualifications teams have been reviewing the assessment modifications for each course, which were put in place for session 2020-21 following a public consultation. They have listened to feedback from teachers and lecturers, and the National Qualification Support Teams for each subject, about their experience of delivering the modified courses this session. From this, they have identified whether the modifications can continue in session 2021-22 or if any adjustments are needed to support teachers and lecturers, and learners.

National 3 and National 4

National 4 Added Value Units will continue to be optional for all subjects in session 2021-22.

For subjects that made additional modifications to National 3 and National 4 courses in session 2020-21, these will also stay in place for most subjects in session 2021-22. In a small number of subjects, we have adjusted the modifications to support opportunities for learning and teaching.

National 5 to Advanced Higher

For most National 5 to Advanced Higher courses, the existing modifications will stay in place for session 2021-22.

For some courses, we have adjusted the modifications based on feedback and to support opportunities for learners to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. These adjustments are specific to each course and fall into three broad categories:

Further information on the modifications for each subject is now available on the NQ subject pages of our website. We will publish more detailed information for each subject at the start of the new session.

Assessment approach in session 2021-22

Any decision regarding an exam diet for 2022 is the responsibility of the Scottish Government.

Yesterday, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills advised the Scottish Parliament that the Scottish Government aims to confirm its central planning assumption for awarding National Qualifications in 2022 at the start of the new term in August.

We will continue to work with the Scottish Government's COVID Education Recovery Group, and our partners in Scottish education and training, on arrangements for assessing National Qualifications next session, including contingency arrangements.

Please be assured that the modification decisions for National 5 to Advanced Higher are valid regardless of the agreed approach to assessment.

We will continue to respond to any changes in public health guidance as we progress into session 2021-22. This may include reintroducing visiting assessment for performance-based assessments, where public health guidance allows.

Higher National and Vocational Qualifications

After recent engagement with Qualification Support Teams, teaching staff from colleges and training providers, learners and SQA staff, we can confirm that the current alternative assessment approaches for Higher National and Vocational Qualifications (HNVQ) will continue for session 2021-22.

For sessions 2019-20 and 2020-21, the alternative assessment approaches were put in place for HNVQ to assist centres with the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on teaching, learning and assessment.

These alternative approaches are specific to each course and centres can use them as they see fit. An interactive decision tree is available on our website to help centres identify the most appropriate assessment approach for each course.

Where possible, we would encourage centres to deliver the course using the normal unit-by-unit approach in the first instance. If this is not possible, the decision tree outlines alternative approaches that will remain as a support to both learners and centres for session 2021-22.

We published subject guidance for several awards in February and March 2021. We will review this guidance in line with public health advice and will communicate any changes as appropriate.

For the most up to date information, please visit the Higher National and Vocational Qualifications section of our website.