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National Qualifications

Why are qualifications changing?

Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) takes a fresh approach to what, how and where young people learn. CfE aims to raise standards, improve knowledge and develop skills. The fresh approach to learning requires new assessment methods and qualifications.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has developed new qualifications to complement the way young people learn and to equip them with the right mix of knowledge and understanding required to succeed in the modern working world.  The new qualifications have equal status and credibility to those previously available and will support the new curriculum.  The levels of national qualifications are explained here.  SQA has been working with parents, teachers, lecturers, universities, employers and local authorities to make sure national standards are maintained.

2014 exams

The 2014 exam diet included the first set of exams for the new National 5 qualifications as well as the current Intermediates, Highers and Advanced Highers.

A wide variety of materials, including online resources, specimen question papers and course materials, were made available to help teachers support learners’ preparation and revision for the exams.  The new Higher Courses will be introduced in August 2014 and the new Advanced Higher Courses in August 2015.

Details of the 2014 examination results and background to the new National Qualifications are available here.

How will the new qualifications affect learners?

  • Young people will have access to a wide range of qualifications and learning experiences that reflect their abilities and aspirations.
  • The new qualifications will help learners demonstrate and recognise the skills, knowledge and understanding they have acquired.
  • There will be more flexibility and personalisation of choice to meet the needs of young people.
  • There will be more partnership arrangements between schools, colleges, training providers and local employers.

Where is there more information?

The SQA website (www.sqa.org.uk/cfe) has a range of information for parents and carers on the new National Qualifications. They have also created downloadable guides: http://www.sqa.org.uk/cfeforparents

On the SQA website you will also find coursework documents for the subjects learners are studying http://www.sqa.org.uk/cfesubjects

The Parentzone website (www.educationscotland.gov.uk/parentzone) has information about the new National Qualifications and a guide to how parents and carers can help their child prepare for assessments and exams.

The National Parent Forum of Scotland website (http://www.parentforumscotland.org/) has a useful resource, Nationals in a Nutshell which summarise National 1, National 2, National 3, National 4 and National 5 qualifications. Helpful NPFS subject revision guides for learners are also available.