National Qualifications

National Qualifications can play a significant role in enabling young people to develop the four capacities and the range of skills for life and skills for work they need.

Qualifications should both reflect the learning that has taken place and develop pathways to the next stage of learning and life. Their credibility - to learners, parents, employers, further and higher education providers alike - must be assured.

The qualifications system must, therefore, provide a range of opportunities to meet the needs of all young people and adult learners, whether aspiring to achievements at SCQF level 1 or at SCQF level 7.

That is why Scotland's National Qualifications are being reviewed to reflect the values, purposes and principles of Curriculum for Excellence and the aspirations of Scotland in the 21st century.

Following a public consultation exercise, the Scottish Government worked closely on the issues raised with representatives from across the education community, through the Curriculum for Excellence Management Board.

The timetable for the introduction of the new qualifications from 2013/14 has been determined by the interests of children and young people. Young people must have the opportunity to take qualifications that best fit with the curriculum they have experienced up to that point in order to have a coherent school experience from 3-18.

The current system is widely respected and has credibility with parents, employers, universities and colleges. The next generation of National Qualifications will, therefore, retain the strengths of the current arrangements but with reduced complexity and greater autonomy for teachers to raise the standards of learning and teaching for all young people.

In summary, the new arrangements include:

  • Introduction of a new qualification to be offered at SCQF levels 4 and 5 from 2013/14 - National 4 and National 5. This will replace both Standard Grade (General and Credit) and Intermediate 1 and 2 whilst reflecting the best features of the present arrangements (Standard Grade Foundation level will be removed, with National 3 qualifications providing an appropriate replacement)
  • The existing Access, Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications will all be retained as points of stability and reviewed to ensure they fully reflect Curriculum for Excellence.  Current Access 1 and 2 qualifications will also be renamed  National 1-2. 
  • Further information on the new arrangements can be found at Frequently Asked Questions and Timeline for Implementation sections of the website.