NPA Data Science – Additional Support Materials

Further to Bobby’s blog post a couple of weeks ago, we have managed to secure some funding to produce additional support materials for the newly developed NPA Data Science. We are currently producing support materials for all of the mandatory units, so the additional funding will go towards producing materials for some (most) of the optional units, ie: J2G6 45 – Machine Learning (SCQF Level 5) J2G6 46 – Machine Learning (SCQF Level 6) J2GT 45 – Data Science Project…

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Changes to unit codes for Data Science units

One of the features of the new data science qualification is that it is hierarchical, which means that you can mix and match units across levels and still gain a group award. Due to an administrative error, the original units were not coded correctly (the first four characters of the unit code must be the same for units in hierarchies). We’ve now recoded the units with the correct codes. Nothing has changed (apart from the codes) so in terms of…

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Welcome back to Emma

I’m pleased to let you know that Emma has returned from maternity leave. She returned to work (full-time) on Monday. Emma can be contacted at emma.campos@sqa.org.uk. I’ve got Lorraine for a couple more weeks (before she returns to her substantive post in Contracts) so, for a short time, I have the luxury of three Qualifications Officers. Emma returns to her portfolio of non-advanced qualifications, which includes the recently developed NPA Data Science and the enhanced support materials for NPA Cyber…

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Additional support for NPA Data Science

There has been lots of interest in the new data science qualification. It’s similar to the huge interest generated by NPA Cyber Security in 2015. I’m hoping that it turns out to be equally successful. Although some schools and colleges will offer the award this year, two things appear to be holding back centres. One is the relative lateness of it being available and the other is lack of confidence (in data science) among teachers. To help with the second…

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Computing Conference 2020

We’ve held an annual conference for Computing qualifications for a long time (going back more than 20 years) but next year (2020) we’re doing something a little different. Next year’s conference will combine vocational and academic qualifications, so it will cover the full suite of Computing awards ranging from Nationals to HNDs. The event will be a mix of keynotes, workshops and demonstrations. We’ve already thought about the workshops, which will likely include the new materials for NPA Cyber Security,…

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HND Cyber Security subject page

I’m pleased to let you know that the subject page for HND Cyber Security is now available. It can be accessed here. The subject page contains important information about the qualification’s structure and assessment. It also provides a link to the Group Award Specification (direct link), which is an essential document for centres. HND Cyber Security was a large development, which involved creating 15 new (or revised) units. The publication of the subject page concludes the development. It took longer than…

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PDA Cyber Security

I’m pleased to let you know that this development has now commenced. This is the final phase of the three part development plan that has already produced HNC Cyber Security and, recently, HND Cyber Security. This development will be managed by Hilary and the lead officer is Helen. It’s very early days in the project but we’re hoping the have the development complete by early 2020 so that centres can offer it from Spring 2020. The target audience is professional…

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NPA Data Science subject page is now live

The subject page for NPA Data Science is now available. You can access it here. The subject page contains vital information about a qualification including information about its structure and assessment. It also contains a link to the Group Award Specification (GAS), which is the definitive description of the qualification. You can directly download the GAS here. The qualification FAQ is also available. You can download it here: Qualification FAQ (NPA Data Science) The FAQ answers common questions such as:…

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Retiring qualifications

SQA regularly reviews the portfolio of qualifications to remove qualifications that are no longer current. We’re very careful about this. Once a qualification has low (or no) uptake for several years, a Business Development Manager will consult with stakeholders to ensure that removing it is OK before it comes to me to make a final decision. A number of qualifications have been recommended for withdrawal including: NPA Internet Technology PDA Web Development PDA Database Programming Diploma in Digital Application Support.…

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Data science units are now published

The units within the recently validated NPA Data Science have now been published on the SQA website. In total, we developed 12 new units as part of this development. Here is a list of the new units, along with links to each specification. Data Science (Level 4) Data Science (Level 5) Data Science (Level 6) Data Citizenship (Level 4) Data Citizenship (Level 5) Data Citizenship (Level 6) Machine Learning (Level 5) Machine Learning (Level 6) Data Science: Statistics (Level 5)…

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Updated portfolio diagram

The Summer is a good time for the team to catch up with things, and one of the things I always do is update the portfolio diagram, which shows all of the vocational qualifications that me and my team are responsible for. You can download the portfolio via this link. It’s worth downloading and printing the diagram so that you can see what’s coming, what’s going and what’s just arrived. We have a few new arrivals. HND Cyber Security has…

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NPA Cyber Security enhanced materials

It’s been a while since I updated you about this project. The project commenced last October, when I announced that, thanks to Scottish Government funding, we were about to develop additional support materials for NPA Cyber Security. The enhancement project, as it is called, aimed to provide the following additional support to centres. Improved Learner’s Notes. Improved Educator’s Guide. Republished materials in book format. Improve the SOLAR item bank. Create alternative assessments based on portfolio production. Provide CPD events for…

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NPA Data Science is now validated

I’m pleased to let you know that the conditions placed on this qualification at the recent validation event have now been lifted. It took a bit longer than planned but we’re there now. The qualification is available at SCQF Level 4 (National 4), Level 5 (National 5) and Level 6 (Higher). We will now “operationalise” the qualification, which is SQA-speak for coding it, publishing the units and creating a subject page. Once we’ve done that you will be able to…

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SQA Academy Internet Safety course

It has been flagged up by several users that our Internet Safety course on SQA Academy is a bit out of date. This was developed in 2016 and we are now looking to update it.  General feedback is that some links to news items, resources, etc could do with being replaced by    material that is a bit more generic and futureproof. If you are interested in reviewing and updating the Internet Safety course please get in touch with Hilary Weir. …

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HN Computing review

It’s been a while since I posted an update on the review of the suite of HN Computing awards. I’ve had a few queries recently asking what’s happening. The good news is that Computing is now in the first phase of “HN Next Generation” developments — it was originally planned to be in the second phase. This is a good thing — to review the awards using the old design rules, only to revise them again, at a later date,…

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Help us help you

The Qualification Support Team (QST) for Computing is responsible for maintaining qualifications by recommending changes to awards or suggesting support materials that could be produced to help centres deliver qualifications. The QST meets once per year, normally in the Spring to give us time to implement changes to qualifications. This year’s meeting took place at the end of April. The QST is made up of practising teachers and lecturers — chalk-face practitioners who know the issues facing centres. We’re looking…

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Entension of CBQ’s

The end accreditation date (lapsing date) for the following qualifications has been extended for a further two years until 31 July 2021. This is to allow time for the qualifications to be updated: GJ75 46 Diploma for Information Security Professionals at SCQF levels 6 Start date: 09/07/2014 Lapsing Date: 31/07/2021 Finish date: 31/07/2025 GJ74 48 Diploma for Information Security Professionals at SCQF levels 8 Start date: 09/07/2014 Lapsing Date: 31/07/2021 Finish date: 31/07/2025 If you require any further information please…

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SOLAR assessment for Computing qualifications

The SOLAR team at SQA have developed a range of formative and summative assessments for Computing (vocational) qualifications at different levels (Levels 4 – 9). The formative assessments can be accessed via OpenAssess on the SOLAR website. To gain access to the summative assessments, centres should use the link and complete the on-screen pro-forma. The full list of currently available and upcoming summative assessments can be found here, including HNC/D Computing, NPA/HNC Cyber Security and NPA Data Science. If you…

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External Verifiers wanted

External Verifiers (EVs) are responsible for ensuring that national standards are applied across all centres in Scotland (and internationally). It’s a really interesting, part-time job, which involves EVs visiting schools, colleges and training centres. We’re currently looking for people to join the Computing team of EVs. You can find out more, and apply, here. I try to mix the team in terms of backgrounds, specialisms, gender, etc. I’d welcome applications from anyone but particularly people with experience of schools, training…

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Proposed changes to qualifications

Qualifications are formally reviewed every few years but, between reviews, we maintain qualifications by making small changes. The types of maintenance we carry out includes: adding units to qualifications revising/updating units writing new units and adding these to existing qualifications revising assessments creating new assessments. For example, in 2017 we devised a new unit in artificial intelligence that we added to HND Computer Science. A couple of years ago, we changed the way that we deal with proposed changes to…

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