HNC Cyber Security – Update

Further to Bobby’s post earlier this month, I am pleased to advise that the HNC Cyber Security has now been coded and is live on the system. The Group Award code for this HNC is GP10 15.

Moreover, all new and revised units for this award are validated and coded and the Unit Specifications can be accessed via the SQA HN unit search facility. Units can be searched using the unit title or …

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Scoping HN qualifications

I recently announced the commencement of the HN Review. We’re now in a position to take this forward. The first stage in the process is to “scope” the required changes. We do this to find out what might need to be changed and to get an idea about the scale of the required changes. Once we’ve done that we get …

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Development team for Data Science

We’re looking for people to serve on the Qualification Development Team (QDT) for NPA Data Science. The QDT is responsible for creating the qualification. It comprises educationalists, employers, practitioners and others with an interest in the field. Given that this is the first qualification of its kind, we will be starting with a blank piece of paper.

Most of the …

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HND Cyber Security

I’m pleased to let you know that we are about to commence the development of HND Cyber Security. We’ve recently completed the HNC and the next stage in the development is to produce an HND. The HND will build on the HNC but is a much larger qualification (30 credits as opposed to 12 credits) and provides a much more thorough grounding in the subject.

So, we’re looking for members for the Qualification Development Team. We plan to re-invite the members of the HNC team but we’re also looking for new people to join so please let Emma know if you want to get involved.

Many of the units that we developed for the HNC (some of which are HND-level) can be used within the HND so we’re hoping to have the new award complete by Spring 2019 so that it can be offered by centres from August next year.

This project was funded by the Scottish Government as part of Scotland’s Cyber Resilience Strategy. The HND will join a growing portfolio of cyber qualifications, which includes the popular National Progression Award …

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New data science qualification for schools and colleges

I’m pleased to let you know that we will be developing a new suite of qualifications in data science. The qualification will be a National Progression Award in Data Science and will be available at three levels – SCQF Level 4 (National 4), SCQF Level 5 (National 5) and SCQF Level 6 (Higher). As far as we can tell, this will be the first national qualification in data science, designed for schools, anywhere in the world.

Data science is a vital, and booming, sector within the Scottish, UK and global economies. The first task is to create a Qualification Development Team (QDT) that will be responsible for determining the structure and contents of the qualification. We’ve already had interest from national agencies, such as DataLab. I hope to create the QDT over the next few weeks.

Given the success of previous NPAs, such as Cyber Security and Computer Games Development, we’ve gained a lot of experience of developing this kind of …

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Annual team meeting

Once a year, me and my team take a day out to discuss how we do things and how we can do things better. We had our annual team meeting yesterday and discussed a range of things including:

the qualification development process
how to improve the quality of qualifications
our communication and collaboration tools
how to reduce the time it …

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Blockchain units

We are currently recruiting writers and vetters for two units in Blockchain. One unit will be at SCQF level 7 and the other one at SCQF level 8.

The two units will be included in the development of the HND Cyber Security, which will be kicking off shortly. However, we are in a position to start developing these units immediately. We already have unit outlines for these two units, which you can have a look at (and contribute to) via the link below:!Av71_tveB0_uhdBL4lVPif0tQ1YGtw

If you’d be interested in writing or vetting any of these two units, please add your name to the Register of Interest, which you can access via the link below:!Av71_tveB0_uhdBlkwDSG7GaLtl8eQ

We are keen to start developing these as soon as possible so, if interested, please add your name to the corresponding column (writing or vetting) by Friday, 13th July.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you …

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Qualification Support Team meeting

The Qualification Support Team (QST) met last week.The QST has two main functions: (1) to identify the support that centres need to better deliver SQA awards; and (2) consider changes to qualifications. The membership consists of school teachers, college lecturers and trainers.

These meetings are not talk-shops. At this one, we agreed a number of changes to qualifications (most of which …

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HNC Cyber Security is now validated

I’m pleased to let you know that conditions and recommendations that were placed on HNC Cyber Security at the recent validation event have now been addressed. So, the award is now validated.

I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved in the development but particularly the Lead Developer (Joe Harkins from West College Scotland) and the other members of the QDT. I’d also like to thank the members of the validation panel, particularly the convener (Chris Deegan of Glasgow City College), who made constructive comments about how to improve the award.

In addition to a brand new HNC, the development also produced a bunch of exciting new units (such as Internet of Things, Social Engineering and Data Security) that can be used within other awards. I’m sure that some of these units will be used in the forthcoming HN Review.

We will now “operationalise” the award, which means coding the award and the units, creating a subject page, and ensuring that colleges can enter students. The qualification will be “auto-approved” for Scottish colleges so there is no need to go through any special approval process. We hope to have all this done in the next few weeks – and certainly before you return for the new session. The individual units are (mostly) available now from the usual source.

I hope that you like …

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HN Review is about to commence

We’re about to commence the review of HN Computing qualifications. The “big review” will involve the revision of the following awards:

HNC Computing
HND Computer Science
HND Computing: Networking
HND Computing: Software Development
HND Computing: Technical Support

These were last updated in 2013 so they are overdue a review. They will be reviewed as a group because they are closely related and best considered a “family” of awards.

The aim of the review will be to update the structure and contents of the qualifications. Although the qualifications have been tweaked over the last five years, this review will give us an opportunity to have a root-and-branch look at them.  One of the first decisions that we’ll have to make is to decide whether we need to retain both Networking and Technical Support as separate qualifications.

The first stage in the review is to “scope” the changes required. This is carried out by an individual. I intend to appoint four or five people, each of whom will have a specific responsibility for one or more qualification. Final decisions will be taken by the Qualification Development Team (QDT). We will be looking for volunteers to scope the awards …

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Launch event for support materials

The launch event for the support materials for NPA Cyber Security was held yesterday at the Royal College in Glasgow. It’s a beautiful building and there was an excellent turnout with almost 80 teachers in attendance, which reflects the huge interest in this qualification. You can get a sense of how the event went by checking the Twitter hashtag.

The event …

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Update – NPA Computer Games Development

Further to my previous blog post, I can now confirm that the existing Group Awards (version 2010) have been replaced and will go into lapsing on 31/07/18. The finishing date for these qualifications is 31/07/2021.

Furthermore, the Unit Assessment Support Packs (ASPs) have been commissioned. These will be available in time for assessment in the 2018/2019 academic year.


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Recruiting ASP writers – NC Computer Games

Further to my colleague Emma’s blog post, we are still recruiting for ASP writers for the new/revised units for the NC Computer Games. Any work undertaken will be paid.

The following ASPs are required:

Unit Title
SCQF Level
Credit Value

HY2F 45

HY2C 45
Computer Programming

HY2C 46
 Computer …

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NPA PC Passport – Supplementary Materials

Supplementary learning and teaching resources for the NPA PC Passport are now available on the website. You will find them on the subject page underneath the tab “Learning and Teaching materials.” These resources correspond with the Workbooks: Presentations, Spreadsheets and Word Processing (SCQF levels 4,5 & 6).

For any queries relating to these resources, please contact me directly.



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NPA Computer Games Development – Finalised

As previously blogged the NPA Computer Games Development was in the final stages of development. I’m now happy to advise that this Award has been finalised and is available on the subject page of the SQA website.

The Group Award Specification can be found here. If you continue to see the previous subject page, please clear your cache in your …

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Launch event for NPA Cyber Security support materials

I recently gave you early notice about a forthcoming event to introduce new support materials for NPA Cyber Security. I can now confirm that the event will take place on Tuesday, 19 June at Royal College in Glasgow. You can book a place at the event here. It’s first-come-first-served so please book your place soon if you’re interested in attending.

Attendees will receive paper copies of all of the materials (sent after the event) and some of the writing team will be there to introduce the material. A guest speaker from the Scottish Government …

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NPA PC Passport – Supplementary Materials

As previously blogged, the PC Passport workbooks have been added to the SQA website. Additional supplementary materials will be added in the coming weeks containing worked examples and sample answers.

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Women in STEM Conference

Last week I had the opportunity of attending the Women in STEM Conference 2018, which took place in London. It was a big event, with over 150 attendees (disappointingly, only a handful of male representatives) from a range of sectors, including education and industry. It was a very full day, with 12 speakers who gave interesting insights into the different approaches and initiatives …

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Recruitment of Additional QST Members

I’m currently organising the QST (Qualifications Support Team) meeting for late June 2018 in Glasgow (date and venue TBC).

The QST meets once a year to discuss and support any improvements to the HN/NC group awards within the Computing/IT portfolio. The members of the QST are from colleges, schools and training providers and are a great way to let …

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Launch event for support materials for NPA Cyber Security

As regular readers will know, we’ve been developing teaching, learning and assessment material to support the NPA Cyber Security for some time. We recently completed draft versions of the materials and we’re currently piloting this material in 20 centres across Scotland.

Once the pilot is complete, we will finalise the material and have a formal launch event on Tuesday, 19 June in …

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