SQA Presentation Policy & Added Value
SBC SQA NQ Changes 2017-2018 (download doc)
Changes to National Qualifications from Session 2017-2018
As you may be aware the Scottish Government has recently made some changes to the way in which young people are assessed in National Qualifications. The most significant change has been the decision to remove mandatory unit assessment from National Qualifications, initially at National 5 level, and in future sessions, at Higher and Advanced Higher level. The purpose of this change is to reduce the amount of assessment undertaken by young people studying National Qualifications and to address concerns raised by Professional bodies over the past three years.
As a result of this decision to remove mandatory unit assessment, from session 2017/18 onwards, for each National 5 course, the changes have resulted in one or more of the following:
- extension of the existing exam question paper;
- extension/modification of the existing item of coursework;
- a new exam question paper;
- a new item of coursework.
Implications of this change
Recognising the need for some kind of alternative `safety net’ for pupils, the Scottish Government has announced two measures to reduce the risk of a pupil failing to achieve any qualification at all.
Firstly, the threshold to achieve a Grade D award at National 5 has been extended to include candidates who achieve between 40% and 49% where previously it was 45% or more. Normal SQA grade boundary decisions for each subject still apply.
Secondly, for an interim period only, schools can continue to present pupils for the units that were formerly part of National courses and also for the National 5 course award. By also completing the Added Value Unit, this means that a small number of candidates, identified by each school, could still benefit from the ‘safety net’ and gain a National 4 award in the subject should they fail the National 5 examination, as pupils have done up until now.
It is Scottish Borders Council’s aspiration that all pupils will achieve a qualification in each course studied. However, the Scottish Government has been clear that this fall back should only be used in a very limited number of exceptional circumstances. A teacher’s professional judgment will ensure that a pupil is entered at the correct SQA level for the subjects they are currently studying.
In line with normal practice, faculty principal teachers will confirm to you and your young person the designated presentation level. Final decisions can be communicated to parents/carers through tracking reports or a letter home.
National Qualifications – Added Value Components
The new SQA National Qualifications from N4 to Advanced Higher all involve what is known as an ‘Added Value’ component. What this means, is that achievement in these new qualifications is not based solely on performance in a final exam. The nature of the Added Value component differs from subject to subject. In Music, for example, it is a practical performance. In History, it is an essay, written in exam conditions and in Modern Languages, it is a speaking assessment. The attached calendar will give you more information on what exactly the Added Value task is for each subject and level, when in the year it will be done and what percentage of the final course award it is worth.
It is very important that pupils treat the preparation for and completion of their Added Value components as seriously as they would that for their final exam. At N5, Higher and Advanced Higher levels, this Added Value component contributes a significant percentage of the final grade. At N4 level, the Added Value component is one of several units that have to be passed in order to achieve the course award. Specific dates will be published on the school calendar for each Added Value component nearer the time that each one has to be done. If the Added Value component is in the format of a formal examination write-up or performance, it is obviously imperative that pupils attend on that day. If the Added Value component is a folio or submission to the SQA by a deadline, it is obviously imperative that pupils meet this deadline and deadlines set by the school in advance of the final submission date for the preparation of this work.
The SQA have very strict rules to make sure that any work submitted by pupils is their own work. Plagiarism, or unreasonable assistance by teachers, parents or anyone else, is not acceptable. All senior pupils have been issued with a ‘Your Coursework’ booklet from the SQA which gives further guidance on the submission of coursework. You can also access this booklet at the following web address: https://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/71527.html.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s Pastoral Teacher, or our SQA Coordinator Mr McLaren, should you wish further information about the change in qualifications. Staff in schools will be continuing their development of the modified National 5 courses, while Faculty Heads and Pastoral staff will be regularly reviewing and analysing information about pupils’ progress in order to ensure that appropriate presentation levels are discussed with and communicated to you.