Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Dealing with the validation conditions

The validation event was very thorough, and resulted in several conditions and recommendations. I created an action plan to deal with them, and allocate each condition or recommendation to a specific member of the QDT. For example, the Validation Panel wanted formal written support from the Sector Skills Council (E-Skills), which I am working on. Janice Maxted, the Qualification Leader for the HNC, is revising the Graded Unit in line with the Panel's suggestions. There are several other actions being worked on by various people.

Caroline, Hilary and myself are also busy validating the 52 new or revised units in the new HNC/HNDs awards. We are slowly working through these and hope to have all of the units validated by the end of January.

Although there is plenty to do, we hope to have all of the conditions lifted by the end of January, so that the HNC award is available to centres from April.

Contact Caroline if you want to know more about how we're progressing with the validation of the HNC award.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

E-assessment support for the new awards

I met with Graeme Clark, of the E-Assessment & Learning team in SQA, this afternoon to discuss how that team could support the new HN awards.

The existing HNC/D Computing is the best supported HN award on SOLAR, SQA's e-testing system, with over 70 units currently supported by some form of online testing.

The purpose of the meeting was the discuss the extent of change in the new awards, and how much, if any, of the existing assessments could be repurposed for the new qualifications. Caroline and I emphasised that the new awards were significantly different from the existing qualifications and that a significant amount of new material will be needed to support them. Graeme was very supportive, and went away to consider how best SOLAR could be used to help centres to assess the new HN awards.

The revised HNC Computing will be available to centres from April 2012. The existing award will end (last registration) in 2014.

Contact Graeme if you want to know more about SOLAR.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Validation event

The validation event for the HNC Computing award was held on Friday in the SQA offices in Glasgow.

The validation panel was chaired by Cameron Walker, of Aberdeen College, and members included representatives on FE and employers. A key selection criterion for members of the Panel is that they have had no previous involvement in the development, so that they can bring a fresh perspective to the proposals.

The QDT was represented by Gerry Mackie, the Lead Developer, and a couple of members of the QDT, including the Qualification Leader for the HNC (Janice Maxted of Langside College).

The Validation Panel scrutinised the proposals very thoroughly, but were constructive throughout the event. It was a long day, commencing at 10am and concluding at 4pm, but, at the end of the day, I felt the Panel's ideas will make real improvements to the award.

The outcome of the validation was that the award was validated with a number of conditions. These mostly related to the quality of the documentation rather than the quality of the proposals. In fact, it was particularly pleasing that the Panel liked the structure of the new award, which will not change from the original draft framework. But it will be better explained and better exemplified (for example, we will add suggested pathways through the award).

Organising, preparing for, and conducting validation events is hard, and somethimes stressful, work. But events like Friday's reminded me of the benefits that they can bring. Without doubt the qualification will be improved as a result.

We agreed to revise the proposals by the end of January so we hope to have the conditions lifted in February, when we can focus on the HNDs. The new HNC Computing will be available to centres from April 2012.

Contact Caroline if you want to know more about any of the awards in this development or find out more about how SQA validates its qualifications.