Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas party

We had our Christmas party yesterday. It began in the customary way, with a secret Santa in the office, before we headed off to the Merchant City for our Christmas lunch. Some of you may recognise Santa as the man who normally organises examinations in English.

There are a few sore heads today, but everyone made it in to the office. We stop this afternoon until Thursday, 5 January.

Thanks for taking the time to read the blog. Our readership has steadily grown over the years, and it is now one of the main channels of communication between SQA and centres. The team wish you a happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Bobby, Caroline & Lois Hilary

Monday, 19 December 2011

NC Computing: Technical Support Arrangements

I noticed that the Arrangements for the new NC Computing: Technical Support are now available on the SQA website [PDF]. This qualification is offered at SCQF Levels 5 and 6.

This new NC award is more technical than existing NC qualifications (such as NC Digital Media Computing) and better suited to progression to the more technical HN awards (such as HNC/D Computer Networking).

This NC was developed by City of Glasgow College, with support from the NQGA team in SQA. Since I was not personally involved in the development, I was able to serve on the validation panel.

You can download the Arrangements for any of our NC or NPA awards here.

Contact Hilary if you want to know more about any of these non-advanced awards, including the new Technical Support qualification.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Operational planning

The team met this morning to discuss our plans for 2012-13. Every year each team in the Qualifications Development Directorate creates an operational plan, which describes the qualifications that we plan to revise or create in the coming year. I know that colleges do something similar, which is why we have the Heads of Computing event around this time of the year to help you create your plans.

A number of awards are due their "quinquenial review". We try to review each qualification every five years. So, next year we will be looking at the National Certificate in Digital Media Computing, PC Passport, and HNC/D IT, among others. We also have some ideas for new qualifications. Of course, me and my team don't just dream up things and then proceed to develop them. Every development goes through a business case process, which ensures that we only spend time and money on qualifications that meet a real need.

We try to listen to what you want throughout the year, but if you have any ideas for new qualifications please contact me directly or leave a comment on this post.

Monday, 12 December 2011

HNC Computing validation

The validation event for the revised HNC Computing was held on Friday. The award was validated with some conditions. The development team was delighted with the outcome.

It was a good event and the new award will benefit from the Validation Panel's ideas. You can find out more about the validation event on the HN Review blog. Or contact Caroline for more information about the HN Review.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Awarding Body Forum

I attended one of the quarterly Awarding Body Forum meetings yesterday, which was held in the OCR offices in Coventry. It wasn't the best day for flying and my return flight into Glasgow featured in the national news. But I survived.

These meetings are attended by awarding bodies from all corners of the UK, such as OCR, EdExcel, and BCS. The meeting is chaired by Chris Morrow of E-Skills UK.

The agenda covered a range of topics such as ITQs in English schools and Modern Apprenticeships (MAs), which are particularly important for Scotland since we are in the process of updating the current IT User and IT Professional MAs. SQA will host a meeting about this in January.

England is a complex qualification sector, so these meetings are a good way for me to keep up to date with what's happening in the rest of the UK.

Contact Hilary if you want to know more about SVQs or Modern Apprenticeships.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

NC Computer Games QDT

The third meeting of the QDT for the new NC in Computer Games Development, at SCQF Level 6, took place today. The aim of today's meeting was to brainstorm the contents of the new award. So there was lots of talking about the sort of things we want in the award.

I began the meeting by congratulating Frank Duffy, of Motherwell College, for being elected the Lead Developer for this project.

Of course, we don't have a blank piece of paper. There is a Level 5 award already in existence and, of course, this award should articulate with the HNC in Computer Games Development. But we had interesting debates about what should be in this award, core skills and other areas such as mathematics and business skills.

The team felt it important that the award is suitable for technical and creative students, and the framework should not create barriers to either group... so mandatory maths was out!

It was a good meeting. We finished by asking Frank to take away our ideas and turn them into an actual framework. Once the QDT agrees a framework we will carry out a public consultation. Watch this space for more information.

Contact Hilary if you want to know more about this development.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Microsoft Partners in Learning Camp Scotland #pilgf #msftpil

We've been a partner with Microsoft since 2003 around vocational qualifications but for the last six years  this has included  learning and teaching development opportunities  through the superb programme that is Microsoft Partners in Learning

There are now three Microsoft Innovative Schools in Scotland

Calderglen High School in East Kilbride,
Stirling High School in Stirling
Tynecastle High School in Edinburgh.

It should not be a secret that the Microsoft Partners in Learning Programme offers Scottish Teachers the opportunity to network in Scotland , across the UK and internationally. Scottish Teachers do really well in competitions like the annual innovative teachers awards - success at UK level can lead to European and Global events. You can read some reports from the recent Global Forum in Washington DC from three of our delegates here

Ollie Bray  Is writing his usual  full account of proceedings
Ian Stuart  An epic with some great photographs
Tony McDaid  Some nice reflections from a Head Teacher

There are always opportunities to get involved - it is worth following the Partners in Learning Blog

In January you could meet some of the team in Scotland !

In January Calderglen High School is hosting a Microsoft Partners in Learning Teaching Camp

Camp Scotland 
After the great success of the last three Microsoft Partners in Learning Teacher Camps, we are taking the concept on the road (to Scotland) – this is an open invitation to all Teachers in Scotland. So if you want to spend time with other innovative educators, then this is an ideal event for you.
Camp Scotland takes place at Calderglen High School, starting 10:00am on Thursday 26th and finishing 4:00pm Friday 27th January 2012.

What will I be doing at  Camp Scotland?

We will give you training in using free Microsoft software to create teaching and learning resources for the classroom. You will have time to design, create and evaluate those resources and collaborate with others. You will also get the chance to speak to experts at Microsoft about our technology. In addition you will also be learning how to deliver the same training to colleagues in your own schools. These resources will take the form of screen capture videos, which we call Innovids. You can see examples of these on the Partners in Learning YouTube Channel –

How do I apply?

We don’t want videos or lengthy biographies from you, to apply for this free event, just email three tweet-esque type statements (140 characters or less) to ofrazer [at]  before the closing date  Friday 16th December. These statements should be ideas of how you would, or are using Microsoft technologies to support learning across the curriculum. For example:-
  • using conditional formatting in Excel to help visual learners in numeracy
  • using PowerPoint to create animated flicker books
  • using the Songsmith to create mobile ringtones
Also include details of your school, subject expertise and pupil age range in your application. We will select 25 applicants with the most intriguing and innovative ideas, who will be notified on Friday 13th January.
I am not an ICT teacher is it worth me applying?
Yes, most definitely, we are looking for classroom innovators in learning, rather than techie whizz kids. This event is targeted at those Teachers in Scotland interested in teaching and learning, and how technology can support that, rather than the technology itself. This event is for teachers in Primary, Secondary and Special school settings.
What will I need to bring?
We expect you to bring some of the tools you are using already:
  • a headset with a microphone or Headphones and a Microphone
  • a laptop running Windows Vista or Windows 7,
  • Office 2007 or 2010 (not essential)
  • You need to have installed and have working , Community Clips  -Freely available at
  • We will send you a list of tools to download and install when we confirm your attendance.
What will I be expected to do?
We hope that you will create two innovid resources. We will collect those resources and post them to our YouTube Channel and GLOW.
In return, we will offer you support if you wish to recreate this course in your school and you will receive a certificate welcoming you as a Partners in Learning Teacher, along with more ideas about how to enhance pupil’s learning through the use of technology.

Heads of Computing event

The Heads of Computing event was held on Friday (2 December) but I've not had the chance to update the blog since then.

These meetings have been taking place, every year, for a long time. I remember attending them when I was a Head of Department in the 1990's. Computing is one of the few subject areas to continue with these events but I think that they still serve a purpose since they, effectively, summarise what's been going on for the last 12 months - and what's coming down the line in the future. So, they're a great way to catch up, for busy people.

There was a good turn out on Friday. Fifty-four people attended, from 34 colleges, which represents very good coverage of the Scottish FE sector.

There are some standing items on the agenda, such as the Senior External Verifier's annual report, and my own presentation was a standing item too -- the qualification update, when me, Caroline and Hilary report on what's been developed over the last year and what we're currently working on.
The agenda was pretty varied with presentations about the teaching of Computer Games qualifications, an update on the online learning material that is available to centres, and a particularly interesting discussion about how colleges can work together. We also took the opportunity to update attendees on the HN Review.

All of the presentations from the day are available from Caroline. If you attended the event, please complete a short event evaluation survey to help us make next year's event better.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Appointment of VMware Cascade Centre

A communication went to all College Principals and Heads of Computing today -
Check with your SQA Coordinator for full  details.

The SQA  and VMware are seeking to appoint a national cascade centre for VMware - to work with SQA and VMware for three years in the first instance.

This is an opportunity to work directly with VMware and play a shaping
role in the development of VMware skills across Scottish Further Education
and the positioning of VMware Certification within the national
qualifications portfolio.

We are delighted to welcome VMware as a DIVA partner.