Why data science qualifications?

I was recently asked by someone why SQA developed data science qualifications. The person was planning a webinar (with an international audience) and wanted to “set the Scottish educational context” by explaining “the rationale for data science qualifications”. She had searched this blog for an answer — but without success. I promised that I would rectify that. We developed NPA Data Science in 2018/19. At the time, it was the first school-based national qualification in data science in the world…

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PDA Data Science units published

Further to the recent post regarding the validation of the PDA Data Science, I am happy to advise that all of the new units developed for this award have now been published on the SQA website. Please see below for the full list of units, with links to the unit specifications. The units can also be found through the Unit Search facility on the website. J4Y5 34 Communicating with Data J4Y7 35 Communicating with Data J4YC 36 Data Engineering J4Y9…

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Guidance for centres for session 2020/21

SQA recently published guidance for session 2020/21 relating to the assessment of vocational qualifications during the current pandemic. That page includes a link to general guidance for centres. The guidance provides detailed information for teachers, lecturers and trainers about how best to carry out assessment during the current conditions. Some subjects, because of their very practical nature, will be providing additional guidance relating to specific units that can’t follow this general advice. Subjects such as Construction, Dance and Sport present…

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PDA Data Science is validated

I’m pleased to let you know that the Professional Development Award in Data Science at SCQF Levels 7, 8 and 9 is now validated. The validation event in June placed some conditions on the proposed awards and we’ve been working on those conditions over the summer. The convener of the panel has now lifted the conditions. It’s taken us longer than normal to do this. We hoped to have the award available to centres by 1 September but it’s going…

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Welcome back

The team would like to welcome you back for session 2020/21. We’ve been busy during the summer with a number of developments. A new Professional Development Award in Cyber Resilience was recently made available to centres. This suite of awards is available at SCQF Levels 7, 8 and 9. The finalisation of this qualification brings to an end a period of rapid development of cyber security qualifications that began in 2015 when NPA Cyber Security was introduced. There are now…

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PDA Cyber Resilience is now live

Following the recommendations from the validation panel, the PDA Cyber Security has been retitled “PDA Cyber Resilience” to more accurately reflect the content of the award. The suite of PDAs at SCQF levels 7, 8 and 9 is now validated and available for centre delivery. GR3R 47 PDA Cyber Resilience SCQF level 7 GR3T 48 PDA Cyber Resilience SCQF level 8 GR3V 49 PDA Cyber Resilience SCQF level 9 More information about this award can be found on the subject…

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Refreshed combined assessments for HN Computing

The “HN enhancement” project has two parts. Part 1 was adding units to the existing HNC Computing, which has now been done, and part 2 is refreshing combined assessments that were produced a few years ago and making these available to all centres. The combined assessments were originally devised in 2014 (and made available in 2015) to reduce the amount of assessment (by integrating several assessments into one) and giving learners “a university experience” of assessment. They’re also known as…

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NPA Computer Networks – Update

The revision of the NPA Computer Networks is now underway. As stated in an earlier post, this will be a relatively quick development. The three component units are being revised and should be finalised by mid-August. A writer and vetter have already been allocated to this job. The units being revised are: Computing: Install and Maintain Hardware (F1KF 11) Computing: Install and Maintain Software (F1KP 11) Computing: Computer Networking Fundamentals (F1KH 11) Once the units are finalised, the award will…

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Update on new Higher Nationals

Regular readers will know that Computing is one of the pilot areas for the development of new types of Higher National (HN) awards, part of SQA’s Next Generation of HN awards. I first announced this development in February. Since then, a Qualification Development Team (QDT) has been formed (consisting of over 30 representatives of colleges, schools, universities and employers) and met a couple of times. We’ve also selected lead developers for each qualification. The leads have been busy over the…

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PDA Data Science validation

The validation event for the Professional Development Award in Data Science was held on Thursday afternoon. The purpose of validation is for an independent group of experts to approve new qualifications. The panel had representation from universities, colleges and employers. This was my first experience of a virtual validation (we used Microsoft Teams), which worked really well. I’m pleased to let you know that the suite of qualifications was approved with some conditions and recommendations. The main condition relates to…

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Design of new Higher National awards

Regular readers will know that we’re currently reviewing a suite of Higher National (HN) qualifications in Computing. This isn’t a normal review. Computing is one of three subjects testing a new design for HN awards. The initiative is called “HN Next Generation”. New Higher Nationals will have a different look to the current awards. The “design parameters” include: fewer and larger units less assessment inclusion of metaskills project-based learning. New Higher Nationals will have a consistent framework consisting of: Common…

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NPA Comp. Games Dev. (G9RP 44, G9RR 45 and G9RT 46) – Finish date extended

The NPA Computer Games Development was revised in 2018 (GP02 44, GP03 45, GP04 46). When awards are revised, the previous version of the award goes into lapsing for a period of time, during which centres can still enter candidates for the ‘old’ award while they become familiar with the revised award. So, for some time, both versions of the award coexist. After a period of 3-4 years, the previous version of the award is removed from the catalogue. It…

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PDA Data Science consultation

The PDA Data Science development at SCQF levels 7, 8 and 9 is well underway and validation will take place at the end of the month. We are now in a position to share more details with you regarding this development, such as the aims, frameworks and units. We would be interested in your views, which you can provide through the consultation form below: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=2LTEKxW0bE-LuCwphdcXHznh9ZB__vhLoPF9ACVVFIxUMzVXSEZVMkpMTUVUMDJGT0xVNVFaMlRGNSQlQCN0PWcu You will be able to access a ‘Qualification summary’ document once you are in the…

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NPA Computer Networks and Systems – Revision

Earlier this year, scoping was carried out on a number of our qualifications in order to gauge how centres felt about the awards and to inform any decision on the best way to proceed. One of the awards scoped was the National Progression Award in Computer Networks and Systems (G9J8 45). The scoping report revealed some key points, such as the fact that the structure of the award is considered to be good. Consequently, taking into account the feedback from…

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PDA Data Science update

As regular readers will know, we’re currently developing a new suite of qualifications in data science. The Professional Development Awards in Data Science will be available at SCQF Levels 7, 8 and 9. The Level 7 award is for everyone or, at least, everyone who works with data. This qualification will provide data analysis skills for people who don’t want to become data scientists but need to know how to handle large datasets and make business decisions based on that data.…

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Lead developers for HN Next Gen

An important milestone in any qualification development is the appointment of lead developers. I’m pleased to let you know that we have now appointed five experienced teachers to lead each of the developments in the HN Next Gen project. For privacy reasons, I’ll only name their centres. HNC Computing: Glasgow Clyde College HND Computer Science: University of the Highlands & Islands HND Data Science: Edinburgh College HND Networking & Infrastructure: Open University HND Software Development: City of Glasgow College. Although…

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Teaching and learning material for data science

Since my previous post about this, I’m pleased to let you know that the Data Education in Schools team, within the University of Edinburgh, has been selected to develop the additional support materials for NPA Data Science. The new materials will come in two parts. An Educator’s Guide will provide advice to teachers about getting started with the qualification (such as the software that you’ll need and how best to timetable the course) and a Learner’s Guide, which will cover all…

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Embedded Core Skills in MA frameworks

A few days ago we received a query regarding Core Skills in an MA framework. I feel it is important to share this with you, as the discovery I made will not be obvious to many of you. The query related to the MA in Digital Applications. There is a statement within the framework stating that “Core Skills in ICT (SCQF Level 6). Problem Solving (SCQF Level 5) and Working With Others (SCQF Level 5) are embedded within the mandatory…

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NPA Computer Networks

Early this year we carried out a scoping exercise to identify changes needed for three existing qualifications: G9J8 45 NPA Computer Networks and Systems, G8L5 48 PDA Network Technology and G9HL 44 NPA Software Development. The scoping reports were produced after consultations were conducted with our stakeholders, as a result of which, we have decided to revise G9J8 45 NPA Computer Networks and Systems (and no changes will be made to G8L5 48 PDA Network Technology and G9HL 44 NPA…

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Online cyber learning opportunities for teenagers

At the beginning of May, The UK Government, with NCSC and the National Crime Agency, launched a number of programmes in an online/virtual format. Learners undertaking these courses will receive SCQF credit points. These courses should be of particular interest to anyone who is undertaking or interested in the NPAs Cyber Security, as they will acquire evidence for the NPA Cyber Security at the relevant level. Please see below for more details. Cyber Discovery’s Virtual Cyber Security School: https://cyber-school.joincyberdiscovery.com/ (13…

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