Monday, 23 February 2009

NPA survey

After the recent validation event, when we were asked to go away and think again about the NPAs we planned to produce, the development team reviewed its planned awards and came up with slightly revised proposals, reducing the number of NPAs by two - and introducing a new one on Photography.

Shirley e-mailed centres this afternoon to ask staff to complete a short survey about our plans. The survey can be found here, and I'd appreciate if you would take a few minutes to complete it. The bigger the response, the more confidence we can have in the results - and the more we can justify our proposals to the Validation Panel.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Does your centre offer PC Passport Intermediate or Internet Safety ?

If so you may be interested in acquiring free copies of the Leckie and Leckie textbooks that accompany these qualifications. We have surplus stocks of these books that will be of great use to delivering centres.

We currently have approximately 60 copies of the following books that will be distributed on a first come first served basis:

Intermediate PC Passport ISBN 978-1-84372-591-6

Internet Safety ISBN 978-1-84372-578-7

Please e-mail with your:
- your name
- centre name
- centre address, and how many copies you would like
(up to a maximum of 3 copies of each).

The books will then be posted to you within 2 weeks or so.

act fast - when they're gone, they're gone................

Qualifications Support Team meeting for NC/PDAs

The Qualifications Support Team (QST) for the NC and NPA awards in my area met yesterday afternoon in the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow.

The purpose of this committee is to monitor the operation of NC/NPA awards, and advise me about what needs to be done to support centres. Members include teachers, lecturers and representatives of support agencies. The main discussion points at yesterday's meeting were PC Passport and the development of the new NPAs.

The new PC Passport is being introduced by many centres this year (it was available in 2007 but most centres stuck with the the original awards) and there are a range of implementation issues arising from centres. I received helpful advice about what SQA could do to support centres.

With respect to NPAs, members wanted SQA to provide support materials for all units that form part of NPAs (at present some units have assessment packs and some don't). I agreed to take this forward.

An important function of the committee is to discuss proposals from centres for changes to existing awards and changes to assessments. We looked at nine proposals yesterday and agreed (subject to funding) to create some new units for the existing NC awards.

QSTs provide an important link between SQA and centres, and serving on it gives members an opportunity to influence how and what SQA does to support our qualifications. We're always looking to be as representative as possible so please contact Shirley if you want to find out more about serving on a QST.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Digital Literacy

I've been doing some work on Digital Literacy this morning. This qualification is a National Progression Award (one of a suite of 17 that are available or we're working on) that should be appealing to a wide range of students. You can find out more here or contact Shirley (0845-213-5474) if you want to speak with someone.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Vocational Computing awards

I've been working on a diagram that summarises the awards and progression routes in my area today.
Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

It provides a pretty handy summary of the vocational qualifications available in the Computing/IT sector. It can be downloaded here [PDF].

Monday, 16 February 2009

More on Computing performance indicators

I was invited to SQA's Qualifications Management Team (QMT) meeting this morning to discuss the on-going problems with uptake, retention and pass rates in HNC/D Computing.

At last week's meeting of Computing for Change, the curriculum was identified as one of the problem areas and QMT agreed to support me in any way they can to try to address any curricular problems that need to be addressed, such as reducing the assessment load and identifying specific units with low pass rates.

So, it was a very positive meeting with a positive outcome, giving me the green light to do whatever SQA can do to help with this problem.

I did point out that due to the success of award such as PC Passport, the number of people doing vocational awards has risen significantly, with more and more people gaining qualifications in ICT and related areas.

Contact me if you want to discuss this further.

Friday, 13 February 2009

SQA and Microsoft

Microsoft was our original DIVA partner, and I met with the Scottish Lead Centre Manager (Deryck Nutley) this morning to get an update on changes to the Microsoft curriculum.

It is a challenge for SQA's small team to keep up with vendor changes and sometimes our qualifications fall out of sync with industry awards. This was a case in point. Microsoft has recently updated its curriculum to encompass Vista and Windows Server 2008, and Deryck outlined the changes needed to SQA HN units to reflect these changes.

The good news is that it was agreed to make these changes so expect to see some new HN units that map onto the latest Microsoft awards by May. These units will be added to existing HN awards, such as HNC/D Computing and HNC/D Networking.

Contact Joe Wilson if you want to know more about DIVA or Caroline if you want to know more about the links between vendors and SQA Computing awards.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Further HN Interactive e-Learning Materials

We are in the process of finalising another batch of interactive e-learning materials which will cover the following HN Units:

DF9T 34 Internetworking Concepts 1: Development and Delivery Concepts
DF9V 34 Internetworking Concepts 2: Security and Business Concepts
DF9R 35 Network Infrastructure 1: Implementation and Management
DG00 35 Network Infrastructure 2: Planning and Maintenance
F1XA 34 Computing: PC Hardware and Operating Systems Essentials
F1X9 34 Computing: PC Hardware and Operating Systems Support

I shall post a message to the blog as soon as these packs are fully finalised and available on the SQA website.

This means we will have produced 34 packs in total spanning HNC Computing, HNC Interactive Media, HNC Information Technology and HNC Computer Networking which allows delivery of a full HNC online (with exception of the graded unit).

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Computing for Change Steering Group

Regular readers will be aware of the concerns about low performance indicators for HN Computing (and related subjects) since it has been mentioned many times on this blog.

Recently, Scotland's Colleges contacted every centre to ask if anyone wanted to serve on a Steering Group to look at the issues surrounding the relatively low recruitment, retention and success rates. As a result, the first meeting of a new Steering Group was held yesterday afternoon at Stow College.

It was a good meeting with a great deal of concensus about the likely reasons: the curriculum (including SQA units with too much content and assessment), teaching and learning, lack of CPD for Computing lecturers, and an image problem with the subject area. Although these are not easy problems to solve, at least it's good to identify them.

Most of the time was spent discussing the Group's remit but we agreed to make Ron Dillin the convenor of the committee. The Group will do more than talk about the problems - we hope to take action as well as come up with an action plan.

Contact Ron or Gerry for more information about the Group.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Safer Internet Day

Today is Safer Internet Day, a day designated by the EU to focus on online safety.

As most of you will know, SQA produced the first national qualification in Europe on Internet safety, which has proven to be very popular in Scottish schools and colleges. Some schools offer the unit to every pupil in a year group (for example, Airdrie Academy offers it to every second year pupil) and some colleges (such as Aberdeen College) offer it as part of the National Certificate programmes. Some countries outside of Scotland also offer the award.

We recently revamped the Internet Safety webpage, where you will find more information on this award.

Contact Jacquie (0845-213-5468) for more information if you want to speak to someone.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Post-validation meeting for HND Interactive Media

I met with Mark McPhee last night (Mark is the lead developer for the HND Interactive Media award). It was an online meeting, using Skype.

We went over the conditions and recommendations imposed by the validation panel, and we agreed who was going to do what to ensure that the conditions were addressed.

Most of the conditions can be quickly dealt with (such as clarifying the access statement) but one or two will take a little longer (such as revising the Graded Unit). But we're confident that we can carry out all of the necessary work by the end of this month.

I've had a couple of enquiries about the units within the award, to ask if they are finalised and can be released to centres to help you prepare for next year. We're almost there and I expect the units to be finalised by the end of the month too.

Contact Caroline if you have any queries about this development.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Post-validation meeting for NPAs

This afternoon I met with the team behind the proposed NPAs that were recently validated to agree what needs to be done to address the various validation conditions and recommendations. There's a great deal to be done but we set short timescales to get the work done because I know many centres are awaiting these awards. We're hoping for the awards to be validated at the end of April and available to centres from end-May.

Bill Brown (Lauder College) and Lorraine Johnson (James Watt College) are leading the developments.

Contact Shirley for more information about NPAs.