Delivering for learners – National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher Results 2020-21

25 February 2021 - sarahmacgregor - Categories: Advanced Higher, Awarding 2021 Programme, Higher, National 5, Parents

Qualifications 2022

SQA understands that this is a very challenging time for learners, their parents and carers, school and college staff and training providers involved in delivering this year’s National Qualifications. We thank all of you for your continuing hard work, dedication, understanding, and support.

Everyone working at SQA and across the Scottish education system is committed to ensuring young people across the country have the opportunity to realise their potential and gain the results they deserve.

After the Deputy First Minister cancelled the exams, he asked for an alternative certification model to be created. This is what teachers and lecturers will use to decide grades for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses. The National Qualifications 2021 Group* was set up to make sure that all parts of the education system develop the model together.

Alternative Certification Model
This included consideration of the challenges and disruption to learning presented by the pandemic.

We have outlined below what the alternative certification model means for your child.

How results will be decided

Teachers and lecturers will gather evidence of your child’s performance in assessments measured against the published requirements for each subject. This evidence will be used by teachers and lecturers to determine your child’s provisional results, which will be submitted to SQA in June.  We have put in place guidance for schools and colleges to make sure the process they are using to gather and assess evidence is fair, and consistent for everyone.

Focus on learning

But first, the focus is on learning and teaching. We know this is not easy just now and time will be needed to ensure young people have a full understanding of their courses once they are back in the classroom.  To allow as much time as possible for that to take place, the National Qualifications 2021 Group has given schools and colleges more time to submit their provisional results.

Minimising disruption

In October, after a public consultation, SQA confirmed that a number of adjustments to this year’s National 5, Higher, and Advanced Higher courses would be put in place, to minimise the evidence requirements and introduce more flexibility for the gathering of evidence. SQA has also made subject specific guidance available to help teachers and lecturers gather evidence and determine your child’s provisional grades. The guidance we produced for each subject outlines the key pieces of evidence and standards required for grades to be awarded.

We have also published assessment resources – including question papers, and other materials for each subject – which give teachers and lecturers the flexibility they need to assess learners at times, and in ways that are appropriate to their needs.

Ensuring fairness

Significant effort has been made to ensure fairness is at the heart of the Alternative Certification Model, and SQA is working in partnership with the rest of the education system to make sure the national standard is applied consistently when determining provisional grades.

  • SQA has provided teachers and lecturers with resources to help produce provisional results which are consistent and fair.
  • Schools, colleges and local authorities will carry out quality assurance checks on these provisional results.
  • SQA will contact schools and colleges in May and request to see a sample of assessment evidence from different subjects.

Final results

Schools, colleges and training providers will submit their learners’ provisional results to SQA by Friday 25 June 2021.

SQA will not change these results– we will check for any administrative errors that may have occurred when schools, colleges and training providers enter their data into our system.

Learners will receive their results on Tuesday 10 August 2021.

Appealing results

SQA will shortly be undertaking a public consultation about the appeals process for this year and we will provide you with further information once this has concluded.

Keeping you informed

We understand the importance of keeping you updated in what is an evolving situation.

All updates, and further information on the Alternative Certification Model, are available on our 2021 National Qualifications webpage.


*The National Qualifications 2021 Group includes representatives from 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.

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