#LoveScotlandsColleges – Partnership working at the heart of learner success

To mark College Development Network’s #LoveScotlandsColleges week, Jean Blair, Director of Operations at SQA, talks about the importance of SQA working in partnership with Scotland’s 24 colleges, and the benefits it brings to learners.

12 February 2024 - SQA - Categories: Awareness days, General

Features and developments

To mark College Development Network’s #LoveScotlandsColleges week, Jean Blair, Director of Operations at SQA, talks about the importance of SQA working in partnership with Scotland’s 24 colleges, and the benefits it brings to learners.

Scotland’s colleges have always provided a vital pathway for learners across the country to develop their skills, knowledge, and expertise; giving them practical experiences and learning opportunities that they can use to make the successful transition into the workplace or continue with their career or education.

At SQA, we see an important part of our role as Scotland’s national awarding body as providing colleges with a forum where we can work together and learn from one another.

Through the College Quality Focus Group, we work with representatives from each of Scotland’s colleges where we come together regularly to understand and address common issues regarding the delivery of SQA qualifications, and any potential impact on learners’ experiences.

All parties being open and accountable to one another within the group has helped to develop a real bond of trust, which was particularly invaluable when facing the challenges of the pandemic. The focus group grants SQA with opportunity to gain real insight and feedback from colleges on where things are going well, or where there are operational difficulties that need to be tackled.

Another crucial area of partnership and collaboration is the relationship between college staff and our dedicated Business Development, and Customer Support Teams and our Liaison Managers, who are always on hand to provide advice and guidance on the wide provision of SQA qualifications and awards that are available, and how best to deliver them.

And of course, we are indebted to all the college staff who become SQA Appointees – in a variety of roles including External Verifiers, Team Leaders, Assessors, Markers and those in Senior Exam Teams – their contributions help to ensure that learners get the qualifications they deserve.

As we look to the future, our continuing partnership with colleges will be vital to the success of initiatives such as the development of the next generation of Higher National qualifications (NextGen: HN).

Scottish colleges are at the forefront of this unique endeavour; developing, delivering, and refining a new generation of vocational qualifications that will provide learners with the knowledge and practical skills they need for the modern workplace or further study.

The involvement of college staff in our Qualification Design Teams, which help develop the new qualifications, has been vital in the successful delivery of the NextGen: HN so far.

Students themselves have also played an active role in trialling NextGen:HN courses. Candidates from New College Lanarkshire in Cumbernauld were among the first to work towards the new Higher National Certificate in Television, and their feedback on their experience was vital in shaping the next stages of the development process.

Today our college partners are currently delivering some twenty NextGen: HN pilot qualifications in 2023-24, in subjects including Software Development, Networking and Cloud Infrastructure, Agriculture, and Accounting and as we move through the pilot phase, the College Quality Focus Group has enabled us to address any issues and continually finetune and improve our approach, to inform the final model for these exciting new courses.

Our ongoing partnership with colleges will be key to the further expansion of the NextGen: HN pilot in 2024-25, and to the successful delivery of the next phase of the qualifications which are currently being developed.

As we make the transition to Scotland’s new qualifications body, we look forward to continuing to work with, listen to, be challenged by, and innovate with Scotland’s college sector.

These vital relationships will help ensure that learners across the country will continue to be able to thrive in their chosen careers thanks to the qualifications they have achieved, and the skills, knowledge, and experiences they have developed while at college.