Qualifications Update – Senior Pupils

Qualifications Update – Senior Pupils

As you are aware, the Deputy First Minister has announced that this year’s exam diet will not go ahead. We will be doing everything we can to ensure no young person in the Senior Phase is disadvantaged and the Scottish Government, in-conjunction with the SQA, will be working with us on this. Firstly, and most importantly, please do not panic. We understand that this is an uncertain time for everyone, but we will keep you up to date with relevant information as soon as this is made available.

You can read the latest updates from the SQA here.

In the meantime, here are the details we currently know and answers to some questions we know many of you are asking:

Achievement, Certification and Coursework

Will my achievements this year be recognised?

National 3 and 4 (Full course award and units)

Yes. Teachers will review pupils’ coursework and achievements to date, in accordance with SQA assessment standards, in order to determine the overall award

National 5 to Advanced Higher

Yes. Your achievements in your courses will be recognised this year. The SQA will ask your teachers to provide an estimate grade for each course that you were due to complete. The estimate must be based on evidence. Teachers will consider a wide range of assessment evidence from throughout the year including the prelim. However, it should be noted that the estimate is not based solely on your prelim results. This is why it is important to complete tasks and projects set on-line by your teacher at this time. In addition to the school estimate, the SQA will also look at a variety of data including your prior attainment information where appropriate.

Estimate data will not be sent to SQA until the end of April 2020.

What happens if I did not complete the coursework for my course?

The latest advice issued on Tuesday 24 March stated that schools are now not required to submit coursework for marking in Higher or Advanced Higher courses.

For National 5, most of the coursework has already been submitted to SQA and will be marked accordingly. However, they have now confirmed that coursework which was due to be uplifted in April and May will now not be required to be submitted. This applies to the following subjects: Art & Design; Design & Manufacture; Music; PE; Practical Cake Craft and Practical Cookery.

If a subject has an internally assessed course component, then the mark for this will now not be submitted to the SQA. This applies to the following subjects: Design & Manufacture; Languages (French, Spanish, Mandarin); PE; Practical Cake Craft; Practical Cookery; Practical Metalwork and Practical Woodwork.

Will I be able to do my coursework online with my teacher?

Every course is different with different course arrangements for each. The reason that work is not able to be completed online is that for some courses, it is mandatory that aspects of the course must be completed under exam conditions – timed, without notes, and in full view of the teacher. We therefore cannot have a ‘one size fits all’ approach to coursework which is one of the reasons the SQA have decided that schools do not submit it this year.

Why should I continue to complete online tasks set by my teacher when I know that the school cannot submit this work to SQA for marking?

The SQA have advised that teachers may consider work that will not be uplifted and marked by the SQA as part of the ‘body of evidence’ they use to devise estimate grades. With this in mind, your teachers will continue to work with you via Google Classroom in order to ensure that we have robust data to support our judgements for estimating grades.

It is therefore important that you continue to engage with your teachers online, despite the changes from SQA. If you are an S4 or S5 student, engaging with your teachers online will also ensure that you develop the knowledge and skills to progress to the next level in that subject. This also applies to you if you are in S6 and preparing for college, university, an apprenticeship etc. If you do not continue to work online, although are fit enough to do so, then your teacher will have less evidence to work with when completing estimate grades. Consequently, you risk being ill-prepared for continuing with the academic study of the subject next session. We recognise, of course, the importance of ensuring that young people who are unwell are not disadvantaged and we will work with the SQA to ensure this is not the case.

Will I receive certification for achievements this year?

Yes. The SQA have explained that that results should be issued no later than Tuesday, 4 August 2020 as planned. SQA are also encouraging everyone to sign up for MySQA which you can access by clicking here.


How do you decide on an estimate grade?

An estimate grade is normally based on a number of different factors including: how you perform in prelims; how you perform in any coursework, practical or performance elements; and your teacher’s professional judgement of how you are progressing – based on evidence produced throughout the year.

This year we know these estimate grades matter more than ever. For this reason, once we know more information from the SQA, we will work with all teachers to make sure they are truly representative of your performance in your subjects.

I was disappointed with my prelim grade – does that automatically mean a poor estimate grade?

No. In many cases a prelim does not provide ‘full’ evidence of your likely performance in the final exam. Often because the prelim has only assessed a portion of the whole course, it has been superseded by other exam practice and the mark for any coursework will not have been included. We know that there is often an improvement in performance between the prelims and the final exam and we will also take this into account where appropriate.

Can my teacher tell me what grade I am going to get in my exams?

No. We are currently awaiting more information from the SQA about estimation of grades and fuller details of the SQA’s approach to certification and will update you once we know more details. We know that grades will be based on coursework (where this has already been submitted), teacher estimate grades and prior SQA attainment from previous years (where possible). We normally submit estimate grades by the end of April and similar to other years, teachers do not know what you will get awarded for a subject and will not know until Tuesday 4 August when you receive your certificate. Estimates provided by the school will form only one part of the process, it is SQA who will make the final decision and not the school. Please do not contact teachers directly about your estimated grades.

I have produced work at home – can that contribute to the estimate grade?

As we’ve already mentioned, you should continue to work with your teachers online in order to ensure that we have robust data to support our judgements for estimating grades. Our main aim is to be fair to everyone so we cannot take individual piece of work into account which have not been completed by everyone in the class. We have lots of work and information from this year already. SQA have also been clear that no further evidence is able to be submitted.

Can I find out what my final grade will be before Tuesday 4 August?

No. The SQA will make this decision based upon any coursework which has been submitted and marked by the SQA, the estimate submitted by the school, and any other relevant information for that subject.

S6 UCAS Applicants

What about my UCAS application?

UCAS have provided a statement on their website stating that the grades you receive will be equally as valid as those in previous years and that there is no reason for the usual admissions cycle to be disrupted. Universities UK has confirmed that institutions will be flexible and do all they can to support you to progress to higher education. You can read their full advice here. Remember all young people in the country are in the same position.

Will my estimated grade be the same as my UCAS predicted grades?

No. Your predicted grades were provided at a very early point in your course and based on your teachers’ judgement in November. Your estimated grades will be based on much more robust knowledge of your progress in your courses and might differ from grades provided at the time of your UCAS application. Further information is available here.

S4 and S5 College Applicants

Can I still apply for courses at College e.g. full-time, Gradu8, Foundation and Modern Apprenticeships?

Yes. As you will be aware, colleges, like our school, are currently closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. College staff are continuing to work remotely and will continue to process all applications. Names of pupils interested in Gradu8 college courses have been submitted to the South Lanarkshire Employability team, and these pupils don’t need to take any further action. Pupils interested in Foundation Apprenticeships must complete their applications online as soon as possible. If you have already applied to a course then you should receive an email from the college with details of what will happen next.

Other Questions

Will I still get my Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) when the school is closed?

Yes. EMA payments will continue during the period of school closure.

I am leaving this year and I need support with what to do next. How can I still get help with this?

We remain committed to supporting our leavers into a positive destination and will do all we can to continue to offer our support during these uncertain times. If you have any questions, please contact your Pupil Support teacher or Skills Development Scotland (SDS) advisers at vivienne.mckillop@sds.co.uk or stuart.cook@sds.co.uk or visit myworldofwork.co.uk

What if I have any more questions?

You can contact your Pupil Support teacher by email (their email addresses have been posted in the Google Classroom for each year group) or you can submit a query through our school website. You will find this option on our school website (https://hamilton.s-lanark.sch.uk/) by clicking on ‘Contact Us’ at the top of the page. Updates and information will be provided as and when we receive it.

Please be assured, you are our absolute priority. We are committed to supporting you and ensuring that your hard work throughout this year is recognised. We will all get through this difficult time together.

Hamilton Grammar School
Wednesday 1st April 2020

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