Working in partnership – delivering qualifications in 2021

18 March 2021 - sarahmacgregor - Categories: Advanced Higher, Awarding 2021 Programme, Higher, National 5, Parents

Qualifications 2022

Throughout the challenges of the past year, the whole of Scotland’s education system has been working together to ensure learners studying at every level receive the results they deserve.

SQA is continuing to work closely with its partners from across the education sector through the National Qualifications 2021 Group*, and the Higher National and Vocational Qualifications (HNVQ) 2021 Group** and we are committed to supporting teachers and lecturers in their key role in assessing learners’ evidence.

We have kept schools, colleges, employers, and training providers updated about what resources are available to help teachers and lecturers deliver National Qualifications, and Higher National and Vocational Qualifications, this year.

We have outlined below what these updates mean for you and your family.

National Qualifications

From November 2020, to the end of February this year, SQA has produced guidance documents and assessment resources for teachers and lecturers covering all National 5, Higher, and Advanced Higher courses.

These documents set out the requirements that schools and colleges will use to generate evidence of learners’ assessments. This is referred to as demonstrated attainment and will be used to help teachers and lecturers decide learners’ provisional results for their courses later in the year.

We expected a lot of disruption to learning this year. Therefore, the assessment requirements have been reduced while ensuring the qualifications remain valid and credible. We also added flexibility on how assessments can be carried out to allow schools and colleges to manage how they gather evidence in a way that suits the needs of learners.

We understand that assessment of practical and performance-based subjects – such as Music, Drama, Dance, and PE – is particularly challenging at this time and we have produced guidance with Education Scotland, for schools and colleges to help them adjust to and accommodate these difficulties.

Freeing up more time for learning and teaching is also at the heart of the changes to the way learners of National 4 courses will be assessed this year.

Higher National and Vocational Qualifications

Learners working towards our Higher National and Vocational Qualifications have also had their learning significantly disrupted by the pandemic.

Together with our partners on the HNVQ 2021 Group, which has representation from across the further education sector, we have produced advice and guidance to help teachers and lecturers assess these qualifications.

The guidance outlines for each course the most effective ways for learners to generate evidence of their skills and understanding which will, thanks to the support of teachers and lecturers, ensure they are awarded the results they deserve.

Ensuring fairness

Ensuring fairness for learners is at the heart of all the guidance we produce, at every qualification level.

SQA is working in partnership with teachers and lecturers to support them in applying a national standard when delivering learning and assessment.

As outlined in an earlier blog, SQA has published a consultation asking for views on our proposed approach to appeals and how it might work.

The consultation asks for your views on possible ways of managing appeals, with each needing involvement from schools, colleges, training providers and SQA in different ways and at different times.

The consultation is open until Friday 26 March, and the findings, and final appeals process will be published in early May. The consultation can be found here.

Further information

If you would like to learn more about how we are supporting the delivery and assessment of SQA qualifications in 2020-21, please visit our National Qualifications and Higher National and Vocational Qualifications webpages.

In addition, we have created a new booklet for learners detailing how National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses will be assessed this year, and how their schools and colleges will decide their provisional grades before SQA issues them with their results on Tuesday 10 August. It is available on our website and all learners will receive a printed copy.


*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.

** The Higher National and Vocational Qualifications 2021 Group is represented by the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES), Colleges Scotland, the College Vice Principal Forum, Developing the Young Workforce (DYW), Educational Institute of Scotland – Further Education Lecturers’ Association (EIS-FELA), the National Union of Students (NUS), the Scottish Funding Council, the Scottish Government, the Scottish Training Federation, Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), Skills Development Scotland (SDS), and Student Partnerships in Quality Scotland (SPARQs).


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