New national qualifications
Scotland's young people will be equipped for the 21st century through the next generation of national qualifications.
The new changes, which will come into effect from 2013, will deliver qualifications that reflect Scotland's new approach to teaching and learning with a more streamlined system, which is simpler for pupils, parents and employers to understand.
The changes will mean that:
- A new qualification - the National award - will replace Intermediate and Standard Grade.
- New National Literacy and National Numeracy awards will be introduced, to be taken from S3 onwards.
- The existing Access, Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications will all be retained and updated to fully reflect Curriculum for Excellence.
Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:
"Scotland needs a new generation of national qualifications that will equip our young people with the skills and knowledge they need to rise to the challenges of 21st Century society.
"The changes I am announcing today will ensure that the key strengths of the existing arrangements will be retained, while long-standing issues, such as over assessment and unnecessary complexity in the system, can be dealt with.
"The new 'Nationals' will be specially designed to support learning under Curriculum for Excellence and will focus on developing the skills pupils need to support them in the future - be that education, training or the workplace.
"The qualification will be awarded on Level 4 and Level 5 of the world-leading Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) in individual subjects - for example, National History 4 and National Maths 5.
"I made clear in April last year when I announced the review of national qualifications that we need a stronger focus on literacy and numeracy, which was borne out through the consultation.
"That is why I am pleased to announce the National Literacy and National Numeracy qualifications, which will promote improvement of these two critical skills. Flexibility in the system is key and pupils will be able to take these qualifications from S3 onwards. They will be available at SCQF Levels 3, 4 and 5.
"It is also clear that Scotland faces a pressing need to improve literacy and numeracy skills among the wider adult population, which is why we want to encourage uptake of the new qualifications by adult learners"
"Pupils currently in P6 will be the first cohort to undertake the new range of qualifications, with literacy and numeracy qualifications available from 2012-13 and the new National award in place from 2013-14."
Dr Janet Brown, Chief Executive of the Scottish Qualifications Authority, said:
"Scotland's qualifications system has a well-deserved reputation for quality which is recognised worldwide. SQA is delighted to play its part, along with the wider educational community and as a member of the Curriculum for Excellence Management Board, in the delivery of a new breed of National Qualifications that are focused on the skills development needs and demands of the 21st century."
The new National qualifications replace Intermediate and Standard Grade at SCQF levels 4 and 5. Currently, Access is at levels 1-3, Intermediates are at levels 4 and 5, Standard Grade straddles SCQF levels 3, 4 and 5, Higher is level 6 and Advanced Higher is level 7.
National 4 courses will be assessed by teaching staff primarily through a course assessment, quality assured by the Scottish Qualifications Authority. The qualification will not be graded, freeing up more time for learning and teaching. Likewise, National 5 courses will have a course assessment assessed by teaching staff and quality assured by SQA. National 5 will also be assessed by SQA through an exam or other external assessment. The qualification will be graded to help learners progress to Higher and other areas of learning and employment.
The National Literacy and National Numeracy qualifications will be awarded from S3 onwards, on the basis of a portfolio of work drawn from across the revised curriculum. Pupils will have the flexibility to be presented for these qualifications when they are ready. The content of the qualifications will be based upon the literacy and numeracy outcomes in Curriculum for Excellence. The qualifications will not be graded but skills will be profiled and the qualifications recognised at SCQF levels 3, 4 and 5.
A Consultation on the Next Generation of National Qualifications was announced on April 24, 2008 and ran from June 10, 2008 until October 31, 2008. Following the consultation, independent researchers Ipsos MORI undertook an analysis of the responses - along with a range of other evidence - and produced a report in February 2009. Scottish Ministers have worked closely on the issues raised with representatives from across the education community through the Curriculum for Excellence Management Board.
The Curriculum for Excellence Management Board has been actively involved in developing the next generation of national qualifications. The Board comprises: SQA, HMIE, Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, Skills Development Scotland, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, Educational Institute of Scotland, Scotland's Colleges, Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland, Society of Local Authority Chief Executives, Learning and Teaching Scotland, The Deans of Education Faculties/Departments, School Leaders Scotland, General Teaching Council for Scotland and Scottish Council of Independent Schools.