Friday, 26 February 2010

Qualification Support Team meeting

The QST for my HN awards met this morning to discuss the support needed for HN awards in my area (Computing, Networking, Multimedia, etc.).

The idea behind a QST is that ordinary lecturers can tell SQA about the sort of support materials that centres need to deliver our awards. They can also request changes to existing awards in the light of their experience in delivering the qualifications. It was a good meeting today with lots of actions coming from it.

It's not just members of the QST who have a voice. We also go through each request from centres and either agree to provide the support requested or offer an alternative. If you want the QST to consider an idea, please complete and submit this form.

We currently have two vacancies on the QST and I will request volunteers from the SQA Groupsite, so please join this group if you want to volunteer your services. It's a great way of ensuring that SQA supports qualifications in the way that you want.

Innovation in Application Development

You may recall a few weeks ago I sent a message to you all asking whether, if it was to be organised, you would be interested in attending an event that would look at i-phone application programming. The aim of such an event would be to consider the potential of a range of programming tools to support innovation in curriculum delivery.

I'm pleased to announce that Scotland's Colleges, in association with representatives from Apple and colleges in Scotland, will be hosting an awareness raising event on Thursday 1st April 2010. The morning sessions will look at the use of Apple application development tools within current programmes and the potential for integrating development of iPhone apps into curriculum delivery.

Following on from that, in the afternoon, there will be sessions on Alice programming, Xbox / XNA Games studio programming and Second Life programming. As well as an opportunity to consider innovation in the delivery of programming within the curriculum, it will also offer a chance to network with colleagues from across the sector regarding the use of these applications.

If you would be interested in attending this event please follow the link below for further information and to register. Please note the event is free.

If you have any queries at this stage please do not hesitate to contact me directly.


Liam Priest
New Ventures Manager
New Ventures

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Send your invoices now!

We are coming to that time in the year when we have to ensure that all of the contracts have been paid, so if you have worked for SQA and are awaiting payment please send your invoice to us as soon as possible. If you have already sent in your invoice and are awaiting payment, let us know too.

Please send your invoice to the appropriate person, either Caroline or Hilary depending on the nature of the work you have carried out.

If you want to know about opportunities to work with SQA, please join the SQA Computing Groupsite. Don't forget that you can follow us on Twitter too.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

National Certificate in Computer Games Development

At the risk of turning this website into a computer games blog, I have news about a new college-led development relating to computer games.

Forth Valley College approached SQA a few weeks ago, as part of the on-going review of National Certificates, to seek our support for the creation on a new National Certificate (NC) award relating to computer games. The college would lead a small consortium of centres in creating a new award entitled National Certificate in Computer Games Development at SCQF Levels 5 and 6.

We were happy to support this proposal, and ensured that the team behind it were fully aware of other national developments in this area, so, if all goes well, there should be a new NC award available to centres from August of this year. Contact Fiona Jackson for more information.

This NC would be the final piece in the jigsaw, given that NPAs and an HNC/D are already in production.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Computer games

Over 40 people voted in the poll (see panel on right) about your intentions regarding computer games. The results are very positive with almost everyone being interested in qualifications in this area. Not really a surprise but good to see none-the-less. It was also the largest response to a poll on this blog that we've ever had.

The validation for the new HNC/D Computer Games Development takes place on Friday, 12 March. This will be followed, sometime in April, by the validation of the NPAs (at Intermediate 1, 2 and Higher). So, there will be qualifications spanning SCQF Levels 4-8 available by the summer. I received the validation proposal document from the lead developer of the HN awards this morning and the qualification looks very exciting, with units in Game Technology, 3D Level Editing, AI, Game Physics, and History, Evolution and Impact of Computer Games.

Contact Caroline if you want to know more about the HN awards or contact Hilary for information on the NPAs.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Selecting External Verifiers

I spent this morning finalising my External Verifier (EV) selections for 2010/2011. Once per year I am asked to select EVs and work out how many days each one needs to carry out their designated roles (which can be to check NC, HN, SVQ or vendor awards). David Drennan (ex-Cumbernauld College, now retired) heads the EV team.

EVs don't just go round centres to check standards. They are increasingly used for a wide range of tasks such as checking the quality of support materials or helping to write Units. Being an EV is fantastic CPD. Not only do you gain first-hand experience of the standards across colleges but you are also involved in a wide range of curriculum development activities.

I have encouraged readers of this blog to apply to become an EV. If you have applied, you might be wondering how long it takes to move from the reserve list to being used. I am working with Assessment Standards people in SQA to try to find a way of giving new EVs an opportunity to get involved.

Contact Allison Paterson if you want to know more about becoming an EV. Join the SQA Groupsite if you want to be kept informed about general opportunities for working with the Computing team.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

HNC Exam Exemplars

We have now published the following new HNC Exam Exemplars on the SQA Secure Website:

DH36 34 Computing: Graded Unit 1 (Exemplars 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17)
F21G 34 Interactive Media: Graded Unit 1 (Exemplars 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
DV6D 34 Information Technology: Graded Unit 1 (Exemplars 7, 8 & 9)

Access to the material is through your centre SQA Co-ordinator.

Monday, 15 February 2010

TES article on Higher Computing and Computer Games

Last Friday's edition of The TES included a story about possible changes to the Higher Level Course in Computing. It also mentions the new NPAs in Computer Games Development, which are in production. The "Ms McLaren" quoted in the article is, in fact, Julie, the lead developer of the new awards, so it was good that the journalist spoke with the main person behind the development.

The interest in this aspect of the subject is great to see. The subject lost some of its shine some years ago but new areas such as computer games, social networking and online safety seem to represent something of a resurgence in the subject. The portfolio of vocational Computing awards is pretty wide, and includes lots of interesting areas such as all of the afore-mentioned topics plus networking, web design, digital media and website enterprise.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Safer Internet Day

Today is Safer Internet Day across the EU. SQA's website has information about our contribution to the day. We are also involved in today's event at CEOP in London.

As readers of this blog will know, we've been working with CEOP over the last few months to create what may be a world-first qualification in child protection designed for educators, trainers and other professionals. The PDA in Online Protection & Safeguarding of Children was designed in partnership with CEOP and has recently been validated.

The National Unit in Internet Safety has been available to centres for some time now. Some schools offer it to every pupil as part of their S1-S2 curriculum; others make it available to older pupils before they leave school. The feedback from centres (such as Airdrie Academy and Glasgow High School) that offer it to every pupil has been very positive. It would be great if more schools did something similar. Colleges too offer the unit to adult learners and it has proven particularly popular with more mature learners who have concerns about online fraud and identity theft.

The Internet Safety unit is supported by online learning and online testing so the whole thing is very simple to deliver. In fact, students can do the entire unit using their mobile phones!

Contact Caroline if you want to know more about SQA's online safety or child protection qualifications. It would be great if your contribution to Internet Safety Day was to add this award to your curriculum.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Diamanti Charity Ball

Are you aware that SQAs Glasgow Charity Team are hosting a Diamanti Charity Ball Event for Yorkhill Hospital?

The Ball will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Glasgow on Friday 23rd April 2010, hosted by TV personality Kaye Adams and with evening entertainment by Big Vern 'N' the Shootahs.

Tables can be booked using the contact details below. This is a special event for a good cause with fabulous prize draws, sparkling champagne reception, dinner and evening entertainment.

Tables of 10 can be purchased for £600. Alternatively, individual tickets are priced at £60.

For further information and bookings visit or call 0845 213 5109

Writing National Units for Computer Games

The QDT for the new NPA in Computer Games Development met this morning to work on writing the units.

We have already developed the framework for the awards at SCQF Levels 4, 5 and 6. You can download the framework here. The framework is as simple and consistent as we could make it. The NPAs will be in a hierarchy so that teachers can mix and match levels and the students still gain an award.

The draft units are due by 19 February so the purpose of today was simply to have a face-to-face opportunity to get on with the writing. I'll share the units as soon as I have completed versions.

I've had a few enquiries about when these awards will be available to centres. We will validate the qualifications (at all three levels) in April so it will be "on the books" in May or June but certainly before the summer.

Contact Hilary for more information about this project.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Visiting centres

This blog has become pretty popular with lecturers and teachers but it wasn't meant to replace face-to-face meetings. So, let me know if you would like us to visit your centre. I can't promise to drop everything immediately and come visit you but I would be happy to try to work something out so that me and/or one of my team can come and discuss issues with you and your teams. Drop me an e-mail if you would like us to visit your centre.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

NQGA project

At this morning's team meeting, one of the managers in the team responsible for reviewing NC provision in colleges gave us some background on this new initiative.

The Funding Council has given SQA money to look at non-advanced programmes in colleges to see if we can support specialist developments in this area (SCQF 2-6). These developments would be led by colleges (alone or in consortium) and supported by a specialist team within SQA. You can find out more about this work here. Every college has a specific person looking after them.

Me and my team would be involved at various stages. For example, we would look at the initial proposals to check if there are already national awards in the area, and we would sign-off units and, possibly, attend validation events.

The current funding runs until July 2011. The project has its own e-mail address if you have any questions.