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Group Awards take up the Howie torch

A "selling job" is needed to win over schools and parents to the virtues of the Scottish Group Awards, Neil MacGowan says. To some extent, attitudes will depend on higher education acknowledging their importance. Colleges will take to them more easily, he feels.

Group awards fall into two categories. Specific "named" awards from Intermediate 2 to Advanced Higher cover 16 broad areas such as arts and social sciences, business and engineering. "General" awards from Access 2 to Advanced Higher are intended to recognise achievements in general education.

Credits from any specified subject can go towards an SGA but all awards will require proficiency in the five core skills.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority machine is springing into action here as well and will issue 49 specification documents and support packs for named SGAs at the end of October. Schools can put together their own SGAs, providing they meet "authorisation criteria" which the authority is currently drawing up.

"These awards allow students to bring together a coherent package of courses together," Mr MacGowan says. "In some ways, they reflect the ideas behind the baccalaureate proposed by the Howie committee (on post-16 reform)."

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