How are qualifications changing?

Scotland’s qualifications system is changing to meet the needs of learners in the 21st century and to reflect Curriculum for Excellence where children will be learning across different subject areas from the age of 3 to 18.

The idea behind the new qualifications is not to sweep away everything from the old system, but to build on the strengths of the existing system. These changes will help all children gain both knowledge and skills for learning, life and work by the time they leave school.

What is changing?

SCQF LevelChange from...
Change to...
Access 1
National 1
From August 2013
Access 2
National 2
From August 2013
Access 3 / Standard Grade (foundation)
National 3
From August 2013
Standard Grade (general) / Intermediate 1
National 4
From August 2013
Standard Grade (credit) / Intermediate 2
National 5
From August 2013
Higher (new)
From August 2014
Advanced Higher
Advanced Higher (new)
From August 2015

In addition, there will be opportunities for the formal recognition of Literacy and Numeracy through the new qualifications – as Units within English and Mathematics courses and as a stand-alone option.

Development of the new qualifications

Since 2006, SQA has been engaging with partners, stakeholders and the teaching profession on the policy, design and development of the qualifications.

Specific groups have been involved in the development of the new qualifications:

  • Curriculum Area Review Groups (CARGs) provided advice and guidance in each curriculum area. 
  • Qualifications Design Teams (QDTs) worked on the design of qualifications within individual subjects.
  • Subject Working Groups (SWGs) carried out discrete pieces of work, for example the rationale and course summary, Unit specification or Unit support packs for a particular subject area.

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