Quality Assurance of National Qualifications

Quality Assurance of National Qualifications


SQA update 1 May 2021 – https://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/97701.html


As a result of the impact of the 2020-2021 Global Covid-19 pandemic on the education system in the 20-21 session the SQA have implemented an alternative certification model.

The SQA have produced a guide for pupils to explain a little more about this model and a copy has been sent to every pupil via the royal mail.

A digital copy can be obtained by clicking here.


In 2021 pupils results in their SQA qualifications will be determined internally by schools, and not externally by the SQA.  There will be no external examinations for pupils.

Unlike in 2020 grades will be determined only by demonstrated attainment.  The level of a pupils attainment must be demonstrated through assessment evidence produced under controlled conditions that meet the SQAs high standards.

Teachers will let pupils pupil know what assessments are planned for them, as well as any eligible assessment they have already undertaken.  The decision as to what evidence will be gathered, how it will be gathered and when it will be gathered in Aberdeenshire is decided at school level in partnership and wherever possible in discussion with the pupils themselves.

Pupils (and their primary parental contact) will also be issued with an individual assessment schedule covering the 5 weeks from the 26 April to the 28 May (are calling these week 1 to week 5). There will be no formal evidence gathering assessments, in our first week back after Easter (Week 0).

Collectively we will use these assessments to derive a provisional result which we will communicate to the SQA.

The SQA have shared that they will not change your provisional result, but will check that we have provided the right information to them to eliminate administrative errors in the transfer of this information.  Confirmed provisional results will be shared with you on results day by the usual means. (by post, and if you have registered for MySQA by text and email).

The SQA have given advice to teachers across Scotland, in each subject area on what forms of evidence are most appropriate for each subject and as a result the form, frequency and timing of assessments will vary across different subjects.  Some assessments will take place in normal class time, with the longer assessments being sat out of class in the school’s Theater or other suitable venues.

We are doing our best to spread assessments across the 5 weeks from the 26 April to the 28th May, and reduce pressure on our pupils.

Pupils who normally have adjusted assessment arrangements as part of their normal way of working in school will have these in these assessments too if they wish.  Pupils who have a question about this should speak to their teacher.  Parents should contact their child’s PTG.


Here is a timeline for next term as it applies to pupils undertaking SQA courses.

    • Week 0 (April 19-23) Getting back into a normal school routine (minimal assessments)
    • Week 1-5 (April 26 – May 28) Completing courses, revision and taking advantage of assessment opportunities.
    • 18 June Expected date by which all pupils will know their provisional results.
    • 25 June Closing date for the school to submit provisional results to the SQA.


Here is a timeline for ‘pre’ and ‘post’ Easter Holidays as it applies to staff, in addition to continuing the teach pupils at all levels of the school.

    • Revisit SQA Understanding Standards training materials and resources to ensure they are fully uptodate with the latest SQA advice and standards.
    • Review subject specific advice on the most appropriate forms of assessment in subject areas
    • ‘Pre-moderation’ of assessment resources and approaches in partnership with other schools across Aberdeenshire
    • Prepare pupils for assessments including those with additional assessment arrangements
    • Administer assessments
    • Mark a sample of assessments
    • Quality Assure the sample of marked assessments to ensure consistency of all involved in applying National Standards.  this may also involve staff in partner schools
    • Share and learn from Aberdeenshire’s Professional Subject Groups (or PSGs) to ensure consistency across the Shrie and Nationally
    • Work with the SQA where samples of candidate evidence are requested for central verification and moderation, incorporating feedback in the light of our own sampling and that at other centers.
    • Adjust marking schemes as appropriate and mark the remainder of candidate evidence
    • Provide feedback to pupils including assessment percentages, and an indication of what award band that piece of evidence would suggest if taken in isolation.
    • Collate all suitable candidate evidence.
    • Undertake SQA training, specific to the evaluation of evidence for the purpose of determining provisional results.
    • Working with other staff to evaluate each pupil’s assessment evidence, as a whole, for demonstrated attainment against SQA standards, reaching a conclusion as to the pupils provisional result.
    • Work with other staff, including those in partner schools and senior leaders to moderate and quality assure the judgments reached in relation to pupil evidence of demonstrated attainment, making changes as required.
    • Submit provisional results to the schools senior leadership teams
    • Analyse provisional results data at a whole school level and at an individual pupil level to help identify any administrative errors and ensure that additional assessment arrangements were applied correctly
    • Transfer provisional results to the SQA.


Quality Assurance (or QA) is the phrase we use to describe a wide range of processes used to ensure we are “Getting it right for Every Child” in relation to the results of SQA courses in session 2021.  It includes Moderation and Verification, sampling of evidence and cross marking.  It applies to planning assessments the administration of assessments as well as the marking of assessments and reaching conclusions about what the results of those assessments tells us about the demonstrated attainment of a pupil.

Moderation is the word we use to describe the process of ensuring that the judgement we make about evidence are as far as is possible, the same as judgement made by all other staff assessing the same course and level across Scotland.

Verification is the word used to describe he process of ensuring that the judgments made by teachers are in line with the SQA’s National Standards.  The verification process can be internal (conducted by school staff) or external (conducted by staff from other schools or by SQA staff)

Our approach is fully in line with the “Session 20-21 Framework for Understanding Standards, Moderation and Verification in Aberdeenshire”.

SQA Exceptional Circumstances

In a normal year pupils sit external exams.  If there are circumstances which mean a pupil is unable to sit an external exam or their performance on the day is affected by factors outwith their control then the school can apply for ‘exceptional circumstances’  This involves us sending internal assessment evidence to the SQA for them to reach a conclusion about the pupils demonstrated attainment in these internal assessments.  This year because school based staff are assessing the evidence, there is no SQA exceptional circumstances process.

Appeals process.

If a pupil believes that the result of an internal assessment is wrong they can use the schools internal assessment appeals policy and process to query the result. A copy of this can be found by clicking on the link below.  Pupils will be supported in this process by their PTG.  An internal assessment appeal must be lodged within 2 school weeks of being notified of the assessment result.  Given the relatively short timescale between end of course assessments and the submission of provisional grades it may not always be possible to provide 2 full weeks so you should query assessment results at the earliest opportunity.

SQA Internal assessment appeals procedures

While you cannot appeal the professional judgement of school staff in evaluating your evidence as a whole, and therefore your provisional result, but you can ask us to check that we have followed the correct process in reaching this conclusion.

The SQA are sill in the process of finalising their appeals process.










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