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by John Booth, SQA Director of Communications
31 August 2023
Associate Feature: Qualifying Scotland

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Associate Feature: Qualifying Scotland

On 8 August 2023, around 140,000 learners across the country received their Scottish Qualifications Certificates – the record of their hard work and achievements.

Getting results is a major milestone in the life of any learner. SQA qualifications support learners to reach their full potential, allowing them to progress to the next step in their lives; either continuing at school, moving on to college or university, or entering employment or a workplace-based training programme.

Together with Nationals, Highers and Advanced Highers, learners achieved a wide range of vocational qualifications: Skills for Work, Awards, National Certificates and National Progression Awards, which are part of a broadening of the curriculum and preparing young people for the world of work in a modern economy.

This year we have seen increasing engagement and attainment of some of these qualifications and increased uptake in areas such as Mental Health and Wellbeing, Computer Games Development, Engineering Skills, Hairdressing, Cyber Security and Digital Media.

In addition to the results we published on 8 August, we issue thousands of certificates to learners throughout the year, who are achieving a variety of qualifications, such as Higher Nationals, Professional Development Awards and Scottish Vocational Qualifications as well as Foundation Apprenticeships.

Every year, SQA’s role is to evaluate performance in assessments in an equitable and fair way, while ensuring standards are maintained so that qualifications remain credible – and this year was no different. Learners’ demonstrated attainment – evidence of a learner’s knowledge and skills in a course measured against the required national standard – is at the core of our approach and ensures colleges, universities and employers – as well as learners themselves – can have confidence in qualifications.

This year we recognised that while the impact of the pandemic may have been less severe than in previous years, things have not yet returned to normal. We used an approach to assessment and awarding that helped to support recovery of teaching and learning while maintaining the standards and credibility of our qualifications.

The achievements of this year’s learners – showcased in the strong results this year – are again a testament to their dedication and resilience. Together we have taken a further step forward along the path back to normal awarding.

SQA continues to engage directly with thousands of learners, parents, carers, teachers and lecturers to shape next steps. We also work closely with and seek advice from partners across the education and skills community in Scotland, including local authorities, teacher unions, employers and universities. 

We thank the many thousands of education professionals and specialists who work with us throughout the year and play many vital roles in the delivery and quality assurance of all SQA qualifications. Their contributions are invaluable. Scotland’s teachers, lecturers, trainers and support staff also deserve thanks for their hard work, collaboration and dedication, working tirelessly to support their learners, as do the dedicated and committed staff we have in SQA.

We help to ensure that the skills, training and education systems in Scotland are effective, and we are fully aware of our responsibility to maintain the accessibility and credibility of Scotland’s qualifications system. In this way we support key public policy goals, such as widening participation, narrowing the attainment gap, and providing the people and businesses of Scotland with the skills they need for the future. 

We seek to engage with all those we work with and support. We continue to gather feedback, evidence and analysis to understand how our qualifications, assessments and services are operating, and this informs how we decide to improve them. We also share these findings with the wider education and skills community to inform their decision making.

SQA makes a difference to lives and communities across Scotland. Learners can be confident that the qualifications they have received are credible and fair, and reflect the knowledge, understanding and skills they have acquired. Universities, colleges and employers can also be confident that standards and integrity have been maintained in 2023.

This article is sponsored by SQA

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