Updated portfolio diagram

I updated the portfolio diagram to illustrate what’s currently going on in my area. You can download it here. It’s definitely worth downloading and printing if you want to keep a list of vocational Computing awards at hand.

The diagram illustrates what’s available (including recently devised/revised awards) and what’s currently being developed. We’re currently working on the following developments.

NPA Digital Media Basics (SCQF Level 4)
NPA Digital Media Editing (SCQF Level 5)
NPA Web Design Fundamentals (SCQF Level 5)
NPA Computer Games Development (SCQF Levels 4/5/6)
NC Computer Games Development (SCQF Levels 5/6)
HNC/D Technologies in Business (SCQF Levels 7/8)
HNC/D Cyber Security (SCQF Levels 7/8)
HND Computer Science (SCQF Level 8)
PDA Cyber Security (SCQF Levels 7/8/9).

Please note that we’re not now developing the …

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Team changes

Regular readers will know that the team was recently expanded (to cope with workload) with the addition of Hilary. That arrangement was temporary and we have now reverted to the standard team – consisting of me, Emma and Helen. I’ve updated the team diagram to illustrate this and show who-does-what. Please also note the contact information for the team.

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HNC/D Technologies in Business validation

The validation event for the replacement to HNC/D Information Technology took place on Friday. The new award – called HNC/D Technologies in Business – was validated with conditions.

The purpose of validation is to permit new and revised qualifications to be peer reviewed. The validation panel consisted of representatives of education and industry (and SQA) who discussed various …

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Cyber security funding

I’m pleased to let you know that the Scottish Government, via the UK’s Cyber Security Funding Programme, has approved two bids from SQA for special funding to develop and support cyber security qualifications. The bids relate to the existing NPA in Cyber Security and a new HNC/D in Cyber Security.

Some of the funding will be used to develop …

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Generic skills in SQA qualifications – Focus Group

SQA is committed to skills development. Our Core Skills Framework forms the basis of the broad generic skills that learners develop when studying for our qualifications. These are the skills that learners will need in their everyday lives and in the workplace, so it is important that our skills framework remains relevant and up to date.

Our colleagues in the …

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Qualifications Support Team meeting

The Qualifications Support Team (QST) for Computing met today in the SQA offices in Glasgow. The purpose of the QST is, among other things, to ensure that Computing awards are adequately supported in terms of assessments and other support materials.

It’s not a talk-shop. We made a lot of decisions today. The QST also makes recommendations about changes to awards – for example, whether or not specific units should be added to specific qualifications. It can also recommend the development of new units. For example, it was recommended at today’s meeting that more applied maths in Computing units are developed – a recommendation that I will take forward.

Although the QDT only meets annually, we keep in touch virtually, via an online group. We’re looking for new members – particularly from the school sector …

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HND Computer Science QDT

The Qualification Development Team (QDT) for the review of HND Computer Science met for the first time on Friday.

We made a lot of progress, mostly due to the good work done as part of the scoping exercise carried out previously. We also decided on a lead developer, a retired university lecturer, who will lead the development.

We discussed various …

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HN Computing e-learning material

Me and Helen attended a meeting today with the SQA Academy team. We’re in the process of moving the HNC/D Computing e-learning material in-house. It’s currently available on a public URL.

The material was devised to support the 2012 frameworks and is popular with teachers and learners. At the time when it was developed, we didn’t have the capability of …

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SQA promotional videos

SQA has recently produced a number of videos to promote digital skills. The main video is about digital skills in general and there are three linked videos that show how centres use SQA awards. The centres featured are: Kyle Academy (NPA Cyber Security), CodeClan (PDA Software Development) and Dundee & Angus College (various awards). According to Emma, you can see …

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HNC/D Technologies in Business update

The review of HNC/D Information Technology commenced some time ago but the development was badly affected by staffing issues during 2016. However, once the team was back to full strength, we made a lot of progress in a short period of time.

The current award has been significantly changed – including its title. The QDT is proposing to call the new award “Technologies in Business” to reflect its new contents, which focus on how technology is used in business.

The team has been busy during the last few weeks validating the component units. In total, there are 13 new or revised units, ranging from business process management to artificial intelligence. The original award has received a huge update and we think that the new award is much more up-to-date and relevant.

The validation event takes place on 23 June and we hope to have the …

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HND Computer Science development

We recently “scoped” HND Computer Science to determine what (if anything) needs to be changed. The consultant (a retired university teacher) made several recommendations, which I summarised in this post.

We are now progressing to development. The qualification will be reviewed between now and Christmas, with the goal of having the revised award validated (late) this year and available to centres by (early) next year. This means that the revised award will be offered by …

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NPA reviews commence

I recently mentioned that we had completed “scoping” the changes needed in some NPAs. I’m pleased to let you know that we have now been given the green light to proceed with the following developments:

NPA Web Design Fundamentals
NPA Digital Media Basics
NPA Digital Media Editing.

So, we will formally commence the review of these awards in the (very) …

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We’re looking for volunteers…

In 2016, SQA revised the Internet Safety Unit and, in February this year, online teaching and learning materials were made available on the SQA Academy, in order to support the delivery of this award. The online learning materials can be accessed by teachers and learners via the following link (https://www.sqaacademy.org.uk/course/view.php?id=667).

We have now …

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Digital Teachmeet

I attended my first “teachmeet” event yesterday, held in the National Library of Scotland. The idea behind teachmeet is for teachers to share best practice using (very) short presentations on a wide range of topics. It’s a bit like speed-dating for academics. There was a fantastic turnout, around 100 teachers attended, considering it started at 5pm.

I’ve never been asked to …

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Reviews of NPAs and NC

I’ve spent the last couple of days reviewing the scoping reports for a number of NPAs and an NC. We commenced this work a couple of months ago and things have ran to schedule.

The purpose of a scoping report is to outline the likely changes needed to an award. Scoping is the pre-cursor to development. We commissioned a report …

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HNCD Technologies in Business consultation

We are currently developing HNCD Technologies in Business (the revised HNCD Information Technology).

As part of the development process, we consult with stakeholders about the nature and content of the award. I would appreciate if you could take 5 -10 minutes to complete this short questionnaire about the new qualification.


Please feel free …

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We’re hiring

I recently encouraged readers to consider becoming an SQA External Verifier (EV). We are now formally advertising for EVs. I hope that you consider applying. We’re looking for new EVs in all three of my cognate groups – Computer Science, Digital Literacy and Information Technology. We’re particularly looking for people with experience of the school and university sectors – but …

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HNC/D Computer Science review

As previously mentioned, we started scoping the changes needed to HND Computer Science in February. We also considered the need for a separate HNC Computer Science.

The consultant has now completed the work. His report makes interesting reading. His main conclusions are:

no need for a separate HNC
significant changes to the HND.

The report contains a lot of details about why he recommended these actions and also a lot of information about the sorts of changes needed to the HND. These include:

inclusion of maths in the mandatory section
greater focus on computer science knowledge and skills
review of the Graded Unit
clearer distinction between HND Computer Science and HND Software Development.

We consulted with a lot of people to come up with the report (including employers) and there was a great deal of consensus …

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Adding units to qualifications

My team get a lot of requests to add units to existing qualifications. These requests are passed to the Qualifications Support Team (QST) for consideration. If approved, these units are added (as options) to the award(s).

We normally do this on an ad hoc basis but we’re going to change that. In future, we will update frameworks once per …

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National Action Plan on Internet Safety

The Scottish Government published the National Action Plan on Internet Safety on Friday. It contains detailed information about how the Government is seeking to protect young people when they are online. One of the (many) actions in the document is that school inspectors should consider this aspect of pupil behaviour when they visit schools.

SQA has had a qualification (a National Unit entitled Internet Safety) in this area for some time time. It was recently updated to reflect the latest threats that face young people (including online learning material and assessments). We also, more recently, introduced a new, basic qualification on cyber security (another …

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