HNC Cyber Security development team

The Qualification Development Team (QDT) for HNC Cyber Security has now been created. There was an excellent response to our request for members.

The QDT consists of representatives from colleges, universities, industry and special interest groups. Unusually, for an HNC development, we also chose a school representative to ensure that the HNC articulates with the NPA in this subject area. The QDT is responsible for determining the shape of the new qualification and, if members are willing, gets involved in actually creating the award.

The creation of the QDT is a milestone in the development – an early, but important, one. …

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Digital Competence Framework for Citizens

The European Commission recently updated the Digital Competence Framework for Citizens (DigComp). The Framework is designed to “improve citizens’ digital competence”.  The Framework was originally introduced in 2013 but I hadn’t came across it before. The Framework has recently been updated to version 2.1.

The Framework has five “dimensions”. The first dimension is “competence areas” (there are five). The second dimension breaks these down into 21 specific competences. The other dimensions expand these competencies in different ways. For example, dimension 3 relates to proficiency levels (of which there are eight). So, for example, in the broad area of “information and data literacy”, one of the specific competencies is “evaluating data”; learners can have “foundation” to “highly specialised” skills in this competence.

It’s a comprehensive framework. The document [PDF] gives concrete examples of each specific competence at each level of proficiency. The Framework provides a useful way of thinking about digital skills and classifying and measuring …

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Teaching and learning material for NPA Cyber Security

I recently mentioned that we received Scottish Government funding to develop teaching and learning material for NPA Cyber Security (at all three levels). Since then, we’ve formed a development team consisting of practising teachers and lecturers who will be responsible for developing the new material. The team consists of experienced classroom teachers (and a college lecturer), most of whom are …

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Welcome back

Many of you will be returning to school and college this week, after the Summer holiday. Welcome back! The Summer is a relatively quiet time for me and my team, and we took the opportunity to press-on with developments.

We commenced the reviews of NPA Digital Media (Basics and Editing) and NPA Web Design Fundamentals in late June and NPA/ …

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Extension – Dip. for Information Security Professionals

The Diplomas for Information Security Professionals at SCQF levels 6 and 8 (GJ75 46 and GJ74 48) were due to lapse on 31st July 2017.

The application for extension was recently approved by SQA Accreditation. These qualifications have been extended for another two years, until 31st July 2019.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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Questions about HNC Cyber Security?

We commenced this development a few weeks ago and there is now a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) for the forthcoming qualification. You can read the FAQ here. This FAQ will be kept up to date throughout the development so, if you’re interested in how it’s progressing, be sure to bookmark the link.

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Foundation Apprenticeships in Computing

The Scottish Government is expanding the Apprenticeship programmes, with a particular focus on Foundation Apprenticeships. Foundation Apprenticeships (FAs) are done in the senior phase in schools (S5 and S6) and give learners the opportunity to undertake vocational training and learning in a specific sector.

There are a growing number of FA including three computing-related ones. These are:

Foundation Apprenticeship in …

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NC/NPA Computer Games Development review

We’ve recently been given the green light to commence the review of the National Certificates and National Progression Awards in Computer Games Development. I’ve previously mentioned that these awards, among others, were “scoped” to identify the extent of change needed. As a result, we have agreed the following changes to the awards:

NPAs: no change to structure; all units updated; …

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PC Passport 2016 – Support materials

We have been receiving numerous requests from centres for learning and teaching materials for PC Passport 2016. It is a pleasure to announce that we are now in a position to develop further learning and teaching materials for this award. This development is somewhat unconventional, as our projects are normally driven by qualification development. However, the uptake for this award has …

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Internet Safety – formative assessments

SQA was the first awarding body in the UK to introduce a qualification in online safety when we produced a National Unit entitled Internet Safety in 2007. In April 2016, this Unit underwent a second  review (the first review was in 2012) to reflect contemporary threats to online users.

It is a pleasure to announce that we have just made available via the SQA Academy formative assessments for this Unit. The assessments are presented as four quizzes covering the different sections of the Unit. The assessments are formative and, therefore, there is no pass mark; these assessments are intended as diagnostic tools which will enable learners to self-assess and reflect on their learning. They were piloted in centres, and both practitioners and learners provided very positive feedback.

As with the new and updated learning material that SQA published in February this year, coinciding with Safer Internet Day 2017, these formative assessments are available to everyone, so there is no need to register with …

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Support material for NPA Cyber Security

I recently mentioned that we had received special funding from the Scottish Government to develop support materials for the NPAs in Cyber Security. I’m now in a position to give more details.

The money will be used to develop teaching and learning material for the NPAs at all three levels. This material will include: a teacher’s guide, learning materials for …

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HNC Cyber Security

I recently posted a message about Scottish Government funding to develop new vocational qualifications in cyber security. The suite of awards will encompass:

HNC Cyber Security
HND Cyber Security
Professional Development Awards in Cyber Security.

These new qualifications will build on the existing NPAs in this area. The first qualification to be developed will be the new HNC Cyber Security, …

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NPA Digital Media and Web Design

The Qualification Development Team (QDT) for these awards met, for the first time, on Saturday. This single QDT is going to revise three awards:

NPA Digital Media Basics (SCQF Level 4)
NPA Digital Media Editing (SCQF Level 5)
NPA Web Design Fundamentals (SCQF Level 5).

These awards are quite popular, particularly the Web Design award, which has a good uptake in schools. But the QDT felt that they all had potential to be much more popular if they are updated and streamlined. The existing awards were criticised for being a bit dry and repetitive, with too much assessment. So, we’re aiming to make the awards more appealing – and a lot more fun to do. Digital media is a very exciting space right now and we hope to make the revised awards equally exciting.

One of the changes we immediately agreed is to drop “Basics” and “Editing” from the Digital Media awards. So the revised awards will simply be called NPA Digital Media at SCQF Levels 4 and 5. We also agreed to put the component units into a “hierarchy” so that each award, at each level, has the same structure. And, of course, simplify the assessment. We also considered including the existing NPA Digital Media Production at SCQF Level 6 in this development, and I’m currently taking that forward. If we do, the revised award would span SCQF Levels 4, 5 and 6.

It was a highly productive meeting and I’m looking forward to getting down to creating the actual awards, which we hope to have available to centres for February 2018. Please contact Emma if you want to get involved in …

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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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