Qualifications - We'll be social workers, not police, says exam body

11th October 2013 at 01:00
SQA claims it is not 'out to get schools' in assessing Nationals

Scotland's examination body says it will be "more social worker than police officer" when it monitors the way teachers are assessing their students' work under the new National qualifications.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) would not be "looking to get" schools during the quality-control process, a representative said.

There was disquiet among some teachers when it was revealed that National 4 - equivalent to general Standard grade - was to involve no externally marked exam. It would be seen as a "Mickey Mouse" qualification by employers, some secondary staff argued.

But last week the vast majority of schools and colleges that will be delivering the new qualifications, introduced this year, that the quality assurance process was now underway.

In December, schools and colleges will be notified again of the subjects to be scrutinised, with the final round of quality control to begin with notification in March.

By the end of the school year, every centre in the country - approximately 450 schools and colleges - will have been verified in at least one subject in each of the 22 broad subject areas, including modern languages, English, maths and science.

Charlie O'Donnell, the SQA's Curriculum for Excellence liaison manager, said: "We want to make sure someone getting a National 4 in the Borders is getting the same qualification as someone getting a National 4 in the Highlands."

Speaking at a seminar at the Scottish Learning Festival in Glasgow in September, he said: "As one of our senior qualification development managers said, we want to be seen more as social workers than the police. We are not looking to get you. We are keen to work with people."

For each subject being quality-controlled, schools will be asked for the work of 12 candidates across Nationals 1 to 5.

In the first round, the work has to be with verifiers by 4 November. For some subjects, where it is not possible to collect materials for analysis, moderators will visit schools.

Each local authority was asked to put forward one nominee - a teacher or lecturer trained by SQA in quality assurance - per subject. Nominees are expected to share their expertise and knowledge of the standards with colleagues. Half of them will sit on quality assurance panels.

After each round of verification, key points and examples of best practice will be posted on the SQA website to provide guidance to those yet to be verified.

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