Assessment of courses

Approach to assessing HNC, HND, NC, NPA, SfW, NPA and NQ units (at all SCQF levels)

Updated 4 May 2020

SQA have confirmed to all colleges in Scotland that they have aligned the approach for all the HNC/D, NPA, NC qualifications, and college courses that use stand-alone NQ units (the college refers to these awards as ‘NQ and course name’). This means that all colleges in Scotland will be able to take a holistic approach, where that is necessary, in determining grades. SQA have added to this holistic approach the Skills for Work (SfW) courses and National Progression Awards (NPA) (other than those NPAs with subject specific criteria that cannot be assessed in an alternative method).

Lecturers will use their professional judgement to assess the learner evidence that already exists, and this will include knowledge of their learners’ progress and achievements to date.

In the current exceptional circumstances a student may pass a course where they have met the course aims: this means that where units are incomplete then a student will be judged against whether they have provided sufficient evidence overall to meet the course aims. It is important then for students to continue with their studies at this time, where it is possible to do so, in order to generate as much evidence as possible.  

Where a student does not yet have sufficient evidence they will be guided by the lecturers to which unit assessments they will need to continue working towards in order to meet the course aims.

Should a student not be able to continue to work towards incomplete unit assessments, including graded units, due to their personal commitments, then in this unprecedented time, mitigating circumstances will be considered from these students.  Students will not be expected to provide evidence of the mitigating circumstances, where their circumstances are due to COVID-19. However, where their studies have been affected through normal criteria then evidence will still be required. Students should complete the Mitigating Circumstances Application Form  and submit to their PAT who will advise whether it has been accepted or not. If you are unable to access and submit this proforma, then an email providing an explanation of your circumstances and how they have affected your studies will suffice.     

Also, students who are unable to make any further progress and who do not have sufficient evidence to meet the course aims at this time, may be deferred until a time when the college is back to business as usual and the students can then continue with their studies, eg the demonstration of practical skills.

SQA has provided guidance materials for staff in all colleges in Scotland, and this provides them with further information on this change in approach for this session 2019/2020.

Approach to assessing National Qualifications (SCQF 5, Highers) 

Detailed guidance has now been provided to colleges from SQA on how to determine and submit estimate information.

All course teams have had meetings to discuss assessing the learner evidence against the course aims, and will now be making reference to this additional estimate information now it has been released from SQA.

Resulting and Certification - When assessment decisions have been finalised, learner results will be submitted to SQA through normal resulting systems.

Certification will be undertaken by SQA as normal.

Students are able to apply for an academic appeal under normal criteria. Please refer to the updated FE Academic Appeals Procedure for use during the COVID-19 situation. 

SQA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for College Learners

Note: Further guidance will be released for regulated qualifications as soon as SQA Accreditation release their guidance to Awarding Bodies. Staff are continuing to support students through delivery and assessment, where possible.