Friday, 24 January 2014

Digital Passport validation

The validation event for Digital Passport was held yesterday in the SQA offices in Glasgow. The purpose of a validation event is to check that new (or revised) qualifications fulfil a genuine need and are properly designed.

Validation events are "meetings of peers" -- we're all there to improve the qualification. The "panel" is made up of stakeholders (representing schools, colleges, employers and national bodies), and the Qualification Development Team (QDT) is made up of the people (usually classroom practitioners) who created the qualification.

The validation event is a vital milestone in the development of a new qualification, and I am delighted to report that Digital Passport was validated, with some conditions and recommendations, which, I think, will improve it. But the basic structure of the award is unchanged. So, we (the development team) were delighted with the outcome.

This means that there will be a new suite of National Progression Awards, at SCQF Levels 4, 5 and 6, available to centres from April of this year. Readers of this blog will know that we're pretty excited about Digital Passport since we think it's the most advanced digital literacy award in the UK.

Once we get the award fully validated and "on the system", I'll say more about the launch events that we're planning. In the meantime, please contact Hilary for more information about this new award. I reassured the panel that we hadn't forgotten about PC Passport. A refreshed version of PC Passport will be available to centres within the next few months.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Aspect report on Computing in colleges

I met with Sheila Page, of Education Scotland, on Friday morning to discuss her review of Computing in Scottish colleges. Sheila wanted to discuss a number of curricular issues with me, relating to provision in colleges.

Education Scotland is in the process of carrying out a follow-up review to the 2009 Aspect review [PDF], which looked at teaching and learning (of Computing) in colleges. That report identified several challenges, and this one is going to look at what progress has been made in the last four years.

I'm delighted to report that Sheila accepted my offer to speak at the forthcoming Heads of Computing event. She offered to give some initial feedback on her findings, which should make for a fascinating presentation. Her inclusion adds to an already interesting and varied agenda.

It's not too late to register for the event. Contact Caroline for more information.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Getting involved with SQA

I'm a member of the Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) of the University of the West of Scotland, which provides advice to the University about its programmes and courses. The Board meets twice per year. I attended its winter meeting yesterday afternoon. It's a huge committee, with over 60 people attending yesterday's event.

SQA does something similar with our Sector Panel. The purpose of this committee is to provide strategic guidance and support for SQA qualifications. There are members from colleges, schools, training providers, universities, industry, professional bodies and special interest groups. It's nowhere near as big as the IAB but, I think, it is pretty representative of our stakeholders. Sector Panels go back decades in SQA (I was a college representative on one in the 1990's) and I'm pleased that the Computing one is one of the few that still exists (the other subject areas moved onto other ways of achieving the same thing). The Sector Panel meets once per year, with online communications between meetings. We're always looking for fresh faces, so please contact Caroline if you are interested in joining the Panel. It's a great way to make a strategic contribution to the subject area.

There are other ways of getting involved. We have a Qualification Support Team, which is responsible for monitoring qualifications and suggesting how best they can be supported; Qualification Development Teams that actually create qualifications; Validation Panels that ensure new qualifications are fit for purpose; unit writers (and vetters) who write the component units for new qualifications; and External Verifiers who check that standards are correctly applied in centres. Please contact Hilary if you want to know more about any of these roles.

Joining an SQA committee, or actually developing qualifications, is a great form of continued professional development (CPD) -- and some of the jobs are paid (such as unit writing).

Monday, 6 January 2014

Welcome back

Me and the team returned to work today. I know many colleges and schools return today also, and we wish you a good New Year.

Last year was a productive year for the team, with the main development being the HN Review, which revised four awards and introduced a new one. It was a large, relatively complex, development that significantly updated and modernised some of SQA's most popular HN qualifications. Early signs are that the uptake for these new awards is very good.

A number of other developments commenced last year and will, hopefully, come to fruition this year. These include the review of PC Passport and NC Digital Media Computing, both of which are coming up for validation later this month. Around the same time, we will be holding the annual Heads of Computing event, which is usually well received by attendees. We've already received over 50 bookings for the event but it's still not too late to reserve a place.

We're currently working on next year's operational plan, which defines the developments that we will undertake between April to next March. Please let me know if you have any ideas. We've already received some suggestions about qualifications in the areas of business technology and information security.

Speaking of the team. I updated the team organisation chart, which you may want to download and print since it explains who you should contact for what, along with our contact details.
We're aware of the huge changes taking place in education, and particularly in the college sector, and we're here to help so please don't hesitate to contact us. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter for short, regular updates on Computing qualifications and support materials.