Frequently Asked Questions The New National Qualifications
Will some of the exams that pupils are sitting just now determine whether they will be going for National 4 or National 5? The pupils are not currently taking exams but they are engaging in Unit Assessments. These assessments act as checkpoints for the teachers and are a way for us to track progress. How a learner performs in the Unit Assessments will help a teacher decide which level best meets the needs of the learner. We work hard to support learners to achieve the most they possibly can. What is the final date when we will know for sure what level our child will be presented at? March 31st, 2014
If some pupils are borderline between National 4/National 5 just now, when will parents be contacted to enable support mechanisms to be put in place at home to enable them to sit National 5? Staff are able to raise concerns about a pupil at any time. At present, staff have been asked to complete Review of Progress sheets for any learner they are concerned about. This triggers a meeting between the learner and their guidance teacher and house link DHT. You will receive notification of this via a letter and in some cases, an email or phonecall. It is important to remember that for some learners, even after support mechanisms have been put in place, National 4 will be a more suitable level of course for them to follow.
For National 5 courses, what is the % split between course assessment and final exam? The Course Assessment part of National 5 is the “final exam”. This exam, however, may take a variety of different formats – traditional exam papers, assignments, aspects of practical activities or performance. Some Course Assessments are comprised of a series of exam papers and a folio. Some learners will have started working on their folios or assignment already. All weightings can be found on the SQA website. Go to a specific subject, click on National 5, click on Course Assessment Specification: http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/45777.html
Can pupils ‘crash’ a Higher in a subject which they have not taken if they obtain good pass marks at National 5 in a similar subject? This is not advisable. We suggest that learners select Highers from the National 5 subjects they have taken. In some circumstances, it may be possible to pick up additional “crash” Highers in S6, but not S5.
If you are awarded a National 4 in S4, can you sit Higher in S5? No. Lines of progression are clear – National 5 level work prepares a young person directly for Higher. National 4 learners may take National 5 in S5 then progress to Higher in S6. It is likely that a learner who gains a D at National 5 will find the leap to Higher extremely challenging, as learners who get D at Intermediate 2 currently do. In this case, it may be advisable to resit National 5 to allow for another year to develop the skills and knowledge required before attempting Higher in S6.
Can you explain how Highers and Advanced Highers will change? What % of the mark at Higher is made up of assessments/final exam? Higher Subject Implementation Events are taking place from November-March for each subject. Staff will attend. Final specifications for the new Higher and Advanced Higher courses are out now and available at this link: http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/45625.3728.html You will need to select specific subjects from the menu then click on Higher or Advanced Higher.
Are children in S1-3 treading water rather than preparing for the Nationals? No. Teachers begin to deliver Experiences and Outcomes throughout the Broad General Education that ensure a smooth transition to the Senior Phase. Depending on each indiviual learner, work is done at CfE 2nd level, 3rd level or 4th level as best meets the needs of the pupil. Some learners will do CfE 4th level work in S3 which equates to National 4 level work. They would then progress naturally through the hierarchy into National 5 in S4. Remember, there are many different learner pathways through the Broad General Education and the Senior Phase.
Will parents be informed of N4/5 levels for each subject before Christmas? • Parents will receive S4 full reports on Friday 6th December. The report will indicate a current level of presentation. The comment box narrative will outline progress and areas for development. No final decision on presentation level will be made until 31st March. Your child already knows which levels of assessment they have been taking and how they have done on them.
Will parents be able to buy past paper/ study guide books? • Yes. There are a variety of these available through Hodder Gibson and Leckie and Leckie. The links are: http://www.hoddereducation.co.uk/Scottish-Curriculumand http://www.leckieandleckie.co.uk/newcurriculum/ • The BBC Bitesize website is very useful and has been completely rewritten in line with the new Nationals. The link is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/
What prelims will be in January? Will there be any in November? • The S4 prelim diet runs from Monday 13th January- Friday 17th January. There will be no study leave for this diet. Music practical prelims will take place in late November. This is the only subject with an element outwith the January diet. National 3 and 4 courses do not have exams. Final exams run this year from Tuesday 29th April – Friday 6th June.
Can you get lower than a D at National 5? What happens if a pupil fails National 5? • A D pass tells us that a pupil has achieved between 45-49% overall. This suggests that a pupil requires more consolidation at National 5 level before they attempt a Higher. (It should be noted that this has always been the case for pupils achieving a D at Intermediate 2 and seeking progression to Higher.) • If a pupil gets below 45%, they will get no award. Any Unit Assessment passed at National 5 will appear on certification and will stand, however, failure of the Course Assessment means that a learner has an incomplete award. They would need to resit National 5 again.