Delivering National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher results in 2020-21 – parents/carers

Following the First Minister’s announcement earlier this afternoon, the National Qualifications Group* is sharing further information about the alternative certification model. This is how National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses will be resulted in session 2020-21. Further information about the Appeals service for 2021 will be available following consultation.

The Group understands that when your child returns to their classroom they will need time with their teachers and lecturers to review their learning. This is known as consolidating your child’s learning. To provide as much time as possible for consolidating learning and carrying out assessment, the final date for your child’s school, college or training provider to send provisional results to SQA has been extended to Friday 25 June 2021.

SQA will not change provisional results. They will check for any administrative errors that may occur when schools, colleges and training providers enter the data into the system. Your child will receive their final results by post on Tuesday 10 August 2021, and by text and or email if they register for this service at

You and your child can stay up to date on their progress by talking to their school, college or training provider.

Minimising disruption to learning

We know that all learners have experienced disruption to their learning this session. Actions have therefore been taken across the Scottish education system to ensure your child has time to complete the assessment needed for their teachers and/or lecturers to determine provisional results. For example, SQA has already reduced the evidence required for each National Course to the minimum while maintaining the standards of the qualifications.

Published guidance and assessment support

Your child’s provisional results will be based on assessments they have done which are consistent with SQA’s subject-specific guidance. SQA has provided 250 subject-specific guidance documents and assessment materials, as well as Understanding Standards materials to help teachers and lecturers apply national standards consistently and fairly when assessing learner evidence. Teachers and lecturers have the flexibility to collate assessment evidence in ways and at times that are appropriate to the needs of their learners.

Quality Assurance

Quality assurance of qualifications is the process of carrying out checks to make sure that assessments are accurate and consistent with the national standards. It is at the heart of fair and credible certification, carried out locally in schools (with support from local authorities where appropriate), colleges and training providers, and nationally by SQA.

Local quality assurance ensures consistency and fairness within schools, colleges and training providers across the whole of Scotland.

National quality assurance carried out by SQA ensures that assessment evidence is appropriate and consistent with the national standard across all schools, colleges and training providers delivering the qualifications. It ensures that a grade A awarded in the north of Scotland is worth the same as a grade A awarded in the south of Scotland and everywhere in between.

Fairness for learners

The equality impact assessment and children’s rights and wellbeing impact assessment underpin this alternative certification model. They will continue to be developed as we progress with the Appeals service.

The alternative certification model aims to ensure fair and credible results for all National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher learners. Schools, colleges, training providers, local authorities and SQA are committed to working together to support teachers and lecturers in providing their provisional results in 2020-21.

All partners are working as quickly as possible in an evolving situation to provide answers to your questions.

Stay up to date on 2021 National Qualifications.

National Qualifications 2021 Group

*The National Qualifications 2021 Group is represented by the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES), Colleges Scotland, Education Scotland, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), School Leaders Scotland (SLS), the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS), Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), the Scottish Government, National Parent Forum of Scotland, and the Scottish Youth Parliament.