Monday, 25 August 2014

Popularity of awards

Around this time of the year, I get the annual statistics for my subject area. I received the data for 2013/14 today. It always makes interesting reading. It's fascinating to see what's actually popular in centres.

It takes me a little while to do a detailed analysis of my area but a quick glance reveals that the single most popular award is (new) HNC Computing. But the entire HN family of awards is growing in popularity, particularly HND in Software Development. That's a big change from 10 years ago, when numbers were declining.

A stand-out statistic is the uptake of the NPA in Computer Games Development, which is hugely popular in Scottish schools and colleges. That's particularly pleasing since, when we devised it, it was a bit of a gamble since, some thought, that the interest in computer games was a fad. The feedback from the centres is that learners really enjoy the course and learns vital skills (including coding).You can find out more about NPA in Computer Games Development by contacting Hilary.

The entire subject area is growing in popularity mainly, I suspect, because of the great job opportunities and the increased focus on coding as a life skill. Don't forget to download the entire qualification porfolio.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Big Data HN Unit

Some time ago I explained that we were developing a new Higher National Unit on big data. The Unit isn't finished yet, but it's a long way along the road so it seems like a good time to get your feedback. Here is the current version of the Unit.

I wanted to develop this Unit is a non-standard way, through collaboration with the wider community. Using this link you can comment on, or edit, the specification. Please feel free to comment or edit as you see fit.

I hope to have the Unit published by the end of September.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Qualification Officer vacancy

Hilary is about to begin a secondment as SQA's Digital Literacy Engagement Manager, to push forward SQA digital literacy agenda. As many of you will know, she has been heavily involved in this area for the last year, particularly through her work with Digital Passport.

As a result of Hilary's secondment, we are looking for someone to replace her as Qualifications Officer for the next couple of years. The post would focus on non-advanced qualifications such as NPAs and NCs. It's an interesting job and, we like to think, we're a friendly and supportive team. You can find out more about the job here. Or contact me directly if you want to know more.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Getting involved with SQA

One of SQA's strengths is that we work closely with the education community in Scotland (and elsewhere). That means that we involve teachers, lecturers, trainers and others in every aspect of our work including the development, maintenance and quality control of our awards. The team use this blog (and Twitter) to let you know about opportunities to get involved -- and many of you do. But we're always looking for new blood so don't be backward in coming forward.

At this time of the year I am asked to select External Verifiers (EVs) for the coming session. I will be looking at the new applications that we've received in the last year to see if I can use any of the volunteers. It's not too late to express your interest in becoming an EV. Simply send an e-mail to to find out more. External Verifiers are important to SQA and the role is fantastic CPD for the EVs themselves.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Welcome back

Most Scottish schools and colleges return from their summer holidays this week. Welcome back.

I updated the team diagram today to include minor changes that have occurred over the last few months. There are no significant changes but, nonetheless, you may want to download and print this diagram.

Please use this information when you contact SQA. Contacting the right person means that you will get a quick response.

We look forward to working with you again this coming academic session. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter if you don't do so already. We post job opportunities and other information on Twitter so it's a quick and simple way of keeping up-to-date with qualification changes.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Digital Passport FAQ

Now that the component units have been published and the group award has been validated, it seems a good time to update the FAQ for Digital Passport.

This is a major update to the FAQ (for example, it includes links to the published units) but there will be on-going minor updates as the qualification evolves. I won't keep posting messages every time the FAQ is changed. It is available online, where you will always find the latest version.

As you will see from the FAQ, the units are available (now) to any centre but the group award can only be delivered by approved centres during the pilot phase (August 2014 to July 2015). It's not too late to join the pilot. Contact Hilary if you want to know more.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Updated qualification portfolio

I updated the vocational Computing qualification diagram today. This version incorporates the latest changes to the portfolio of awards.

It includes the new Digital Passport award(s), the recently revised NC qualification(s), and the new workplace qualification in Information Security. I wasn't sure whether to label HND Computer Science as a new award but since many centres will be offering it for the first time next year, in spite of it being developed last year, I decided to think of it as a new award. As you will see from the diagram, a number of qualifications are currently being reviewed, including HND Interactive Media and PC Passport.

It's a big portfolio. There are over 90 group awards available to centres, covering everything from the very basic (such as Computer Basics at SCQF Level 3) to the very advanced (such as HND Software Development at SCQF Level 8).

Please contact Hilary (for non-advanced awards) or contact Caroline (for advanced awards) if you want to know more about existing qualifications or get involved in developments.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Core skills in Digital Passport

The National Units within Digital Passport were recently published. They were published before they were audited for core skills.

I got notification yesterday of the results of the audit. I'm pleased to report that the Units within Digital Passport carry the ICT and Problem Solving core skills (at each level). The unit specifications will be updated accordingly in the next few weeks (but the unit codes will not change). Digital Passport develops all five core skills but these two will be automatically certificated for anyone who completes the award.