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?

  • National 4 and 5 qualifications – to replace Standard Grade and Intermediate qualifications in the current system from 2013/14

  • Formal recognition of Literacy and Numeracy through the new qualifications system – as Units within English and Mathematics courses and as a stand-alone option.

The current qualifications at Access, Higher and Advanced Higher level will remain but they will be reviewed to ensure that they reflect the ideas behind Curriculum for Excellence.

When will these changes happen?

The National 4 & 5 qualifications and Literacy and Numeracy Units will be introduced in 2013/2014.

This means that children who were in Primary 7 in the 2009/10 school year will be the first ones to take the new national qualifications.

Developing the new qualifications

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is developing the new national qualifications.

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

SQA has set up specific groups to develop the new qualifications:

  • Curriculum Area Review Groups (CARGs) provide advice and guidance in each curriculum area. 

  • Qualifications Design Teams (QDTs) work on the design of qualifications within individual subjects.

  • Subject Working Groups (SWGs) carry out discrete pieces of work, for example the rationale and course summary, Unit specification or Unit support packs for a particular subject area. Teachers and practitioners can nominate themselves to join these groups.

Work on the new qualifications is still at a high-level stage. As the detail about what the new qualifications will mean for candidates develops, SQA will speak directly to parents and employers to give them the information they need.

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