Welcome back

The team would like to welcome back teachers and lecturers to a new term. The team has had a busy summer. The HN Review commenced at the end of June, HNC Cyber Security was validated in early July and made it available to centres later than month, we commenced the development of new qualifications in data science, started work on …

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ASP Writer and Vetter opportunities

We are recruiting for writers and vetters for 1 additional ASP for the following Units:

Unit J0J7 34 Cyber Security: Graded Unit 1
Unit HG2V 34 Digital Design and Web Development: Graded Unit 1
Unit HT9T 34 Artificial Intelligence

If you are interested in writing or vetting one of these ASPs, please e-mail Emma Campos (copied above) by the 24th of August if …

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Team changes

This is Claudia’s last day in the team. She was covering Helen’s maternity leave but gained a place at university to train as a teacher, which she starts next week. Claudia has been a big help over the last few months and we will be sorry to see her go. I hope to have a replacement in the near future …

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Changes to the portfolio

The portfolio of Computing qualifications is changing. Mainstream computer science/IT awards and digital skills qualifications are being separated. Me and my team will continue to look after computer science/IT but Hilary and her team will now look after digital skills/digital literacy qualifications.

This means that “digital qualifications” are now Hilary’s responsibility. The following qualifications have been moved:

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First QDT meeting for NPA Data Science

Following on from my recent announcement about the development of a new qualification in data science and the formation of the Qualification Development Team (QDT), the team met for the first time yesterday. It’s a strong team with representation from industry (including Sky UK), universities (including University of Glasgow), special interest groups (including DataLab) and the public sector (including Midlothian …

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NPA Cyber Security Support Materials – Now available

After a final revision of the materials, I am pleased to advise that the Learning and Teaching materials for the NPAs in Cyber Security are now available via the SQA Secure site. This project has taken, roughly, a year, during which we have been able to work with a committed and knowledgeable development team, who have gone above and beyond to ensure the good quality of the materials produced. The materials comprise:

Educator’s Guide
Learner’s Notes
Practical tasks
Formative assessments
YouTube channel

As many of you may be aware, the materials were officially launched last June. The launch event was held at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and was well attended by school teachers and college lecturers. The event gave educators an overview of the Scottish Government’s Cyber Resiliency strategy, as well as background information on the project. However, the purpose of the event, most importantly, was to allow delegates to have a first glimpse of the materials and provide feedback on these. The feedback was incredibly valuable and was taken into account when carrying out the final revision.

In addition to the above, the materials were piloted throughout April and May 2018. A good number of centres (20) from across Scotland took part in the pilot. Pilot centres had the opportunity to use the draft materials for a period of six weeks. Where possible, the materials were used in the classroom with real learners. On completion of the pilot, centres provided feedback to us via a ‘Feedback Survey’, which revealed overall satisfaction with the materials.

Consequently, we are cautiously optimistic that these materials will be a good source of learning and teaching materials and will aid centres in the delivery of the NPAs in Cyber Security. We are aware that more could always be done, and this may be a possibility in the near future, but, as a starting point for centres that have never delivered these awards, they will prove to be an excellent resource.

For further information about these awards, please take a look at the subject page, where you will find all relevant information related to the awards and be able …

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HNC Cyber Security – Subject page live

Further to my recent update, I am pleased to advise that the HNC Cyber Security (GP10 15) subject page is now live and can be accessed via the SQA website. There, you will find relevant information about the main features of the award and will be able to access the Group Award Specification directly from the page.

For any further questions …

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Job opportunities

Team changes are coming! Claudia is about to commence teacher training and Emma is going on maternity leave so I’ll be looking for two new Qualifications Officers in the near future. Both positions will be maternity cover since Claudia is covering for Helen, who is currently on leave to look after her new baby. You can find out more about the jobs on the SQA vacancies web page.

The Qualifications Officer (QO) job is an interesting one. It involves working with a small team to maintain and develop a portfolio of qualifications in the Computing sector, which covers everything from programming to artificial intelligence. The core of the job is project management since QOs have to control the various developments. For example, right now we’re developing a new National Progression Award in Data Science and we recently commenced the review of a suite of HN awards.

The team is friendly and the work is flexible and important since it affects the life chances of learners in Scottish schools, colleges and training centres (and international centres). The job description provides more information about the position but you’ll get a good idea of the work that we do by looking over the team blog. Don’t worry if you’re not a computer scientist since other skills are more relevant to job. You can apply on …

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NC Computer Games Development – Update

The revised NC Computer Games Development was validated in early June and the award has now been coded and is available at SCQF levels 5 and 6. The new codes are GP0L 45 and GP0M 46. This revised award will replace NC Computer Games Development at SCQF level 5 (GC8R 45) and NC Computer Games: Creative Development (GG44 46) and NC Computer Games: Software Development (GG45 46) at SCQF level 6.

The subject page for this award has already been set up, so you will be able to access the Group Award Specification from there.

As part of this development, a number of units were revised or developed. Among the new units is a suite of units on computer programming. These units are non-specialist units designed to introduce learners to coding. The main difference between these units and similar (existing) units in this area is their (sole) focus on coding (as opposed to other aspects of software development). It is hoped that these units are offered in a range of qualifications.

Please see the table below for more details about these units.

New/ Revised units

Unit Title
SCQF level
SCQF credits

HX9V 45
Computer Games: Design

HX9W 45
Computer Games: Media Assets

HX9X 45
Computer Games: Development

HY2F 45

HW4X 45
Digital Media: Still Images

HW4Y 45
Digital Media: Moving Images

HW4W 45
Digital Media: Audio

HY2D 45
Computer Games: Portfolio

HY95 45
Computer Games: Mathematics

HY2C 45
Computer Programming

HX9V 46
Computer Games: Design

HX9W 46
Computer Games: Media Assets

HX9X 46
Computer Games: …

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HNC Cyber Security – Update

Further to Bobby’s post earlier this month, I am pleased to advise that the HNC Cyber Security has now been coded and is live on the system. The Group Award code for this HNC is GP10 15.

Moreover, all new and revised units for this award are validated and coded and the Unit Specifications can be accessed via the SQA HN unit search facility. Units can be searched using the unit title or …

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Scoping HN qualifications

I recently announced the commencement of the HN Review. We’re now in a position to take this forward. The first stage in the process is to “scope” the required changes. We do this to find out what might need to be changed and to get an idea about the scale of the required changes. Once we’ve done that we get …

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Development team for Data Science

We’re looking for people to serve on the Qualification Development Team (QDT) for NPA Data Science. The QDT is responsible for creating the qualification. It comprises educationalists, employers, practitioners and others with an interest in the field. Given that this is the first qualification of its kind, we will be starting with a blank piece of paper.

Most of the …

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HND Cyber Security

I’m pleased to let you know that we are about to commence the development of HND Cyber Security. We’ve recently completed the HNC and the next stage in the development is to produce an HND. The HND will build on the HNC but is a much larger qualification (30 credits as opposed to 12 credits) and provides a much more thorough grounding in the subject.

So, we’re looking for members for the Qualification Development Team. We plan to re-invite the members of the HNC team but we’re also looking for new people to join so please let Emma know if you want to get involved.

Many of the units that we developed for the HNC (some of which are HND-level) can be used within the HND so we’re hoping to have the new award complete by Spring 2019 so that it can be offered by centres from August next year.

This project was funded by the Scottish Government as part of Scotland’s Cyber Resilience Strategy. The HND will join a growing portfolio of cyber qualifications, which includes the popular National Progression Award …

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New data science qualification for schools and colleges

I’m pleased to let you know that we will be developing a new suite of qualifications in data science. The qualification will be a National Progression Award in Data Science and will be available at three levels – SCQF Level 4 (National 4), SCQF Level 5 (National 5) and SCQF Level 6 (Higher). As far as we can tell, this will be the first national qualification in data science, designed for schools, anywhere in the world.

Data science is a vital, and booming, sector within the Scottish, UK and global economies. The first task is to create a Qualification Development Team (QDT) that will be responsible for determining the structure and contents of the qualification. We’ve already had interest from national agencies, such as DataLab. I hope to create the QDT over the next few weeks.

Given the success of previous NPAs, such as Cyber Security and Computer Games Development, we’ve gained a lot of experience of developing this kind of …

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Annual team meeting

Once a year, me and my team take a day out to discuss how we do things and how we can do things better. We had our annual team meeting yesterday and discussed a range of things including:

the qualification development process
how to improve the quality of qualifications
our communication and collaboration tools
how to reduce the time it …

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Blockchain units

We are currently recruiting writers and vetters for two units in Blockchain. One unit will be at SCQF level 7 and the other one at SCQF level 8.

The two units will be included in the development of the HND Cyber Security, which will be kicking off shortly. However, we are in a position to start developing these units immediately. We already have unit outlines for these two units, which you can have a look at (and contribute to) via the link below:


If you’d be interested in writing or vetting any of these two units, please add your name to the Register of Interest, which you can access via the link below:


We are keen to start developing these as soon as possible so, if interested, please add your name to the corresponding column (writing or vetting) by Friday, 13th July.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you …

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Qualification Support Team meeting

The Qualification Support Team (QST) met last week.The QST has two main functions: (1) to identify the support that centres need to better deliver SQA awards; and (2) consider changes to qualifications. The membership consists of school teachers, college lecturers and trainers.

These meetings are not talk-shops. At this one, we agreed a number of changes to qualifications (most of which …

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HNC Cyber Security is now validated

I’m pleased to let you know that conditions and recommendations that were placed on HNC Cyber Security at the recent validation event have now been addressed. So, the award is now validated.

I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved in the development but particularly the Lead Developer (Joe Harkins from West College Scotland) and the other members of the QDT. I’d also like to thank the members of the validation panel, particularly the convener (Chris Deegan of Glasgow City College), who made constructive comments about how to improve the award.

In addition to a brand new HNC, the development also produced a bunch of exciting new units (such as Internet of Things, Social Engineering and Data Security) that can be used within other awards. I’m sure that some of these units will be used in the forthcoming HN Review.

We will now “operationalise” the award, which means coding the award and the units, creating a subject page, and ensuring that colleges can enter students. The qualification will be “auto-approved” for Scottish colleges so there is no need to go through any special approval process. We hope to have all this done in the next few weeks – and certainly before you return for the new session. The individual units are (mostly) available now from the usual source.

I hope that you like …

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HN Review is about to commence

We’re about to commence the review of HN Computing qualifications. The “big review” will involve the revision of the following awards:

HNC Computing
HND Computer Science
HND Computing: Networking
HND Computing: Software Development
HND Computing: Technical Support

These were last updated in 2013 so they are overdue a review. They will be reviewed as a group because they are closely related and best considered a “family” of awards.

The aim of the review will be to update the structure and contents of the qualifications. Although the qualifications have been tweaked over the last five years, this review will give us an opportunity to have a root-and-branch look at them.  One of the first decisions that we’ll have to make is to decide whether we need to retain both Networking and Technical Support as separate qualifications.

The first stage in the review is to “scope” the changes required. This is carried out by an individual. I intend to appoint four or five people, each of whom will have a specific responsibility for one or more qualification. Final decisions will be taken by the Qualification Development Team (QDT). We will be looking for volunteers to scope the awards …

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Launch event for support materials

The launch event for the support materials for NPA Cyber Security was held yesterday at the Royal College in Glasgow. It’s a beautiful building and there was an excellent turnout with almost 80 teachers in attendance, which reflects the huge interest in this qualification. You can get a sense of how the event went by checking the Twitter hashtag.

The event …

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