Understanding the SCQF
Our initial use for the SCQF Framework (prior to gaining SCQF Ambassador School status) was to share this with pupils and parents as a means to helping them understand the levels and ‘difficulty’ of learning. This was useful when, as a Guidance team, we supported young people to choose their subjects in the Senior Phase.
It also allowed us to help pupils understand their SQA qualifications on their certificates. With parents, we shared the Framework diagram to highlight the pathways from school and the connections between school qualifications and Further and Higher Education.
Our messages included asking parents if a jump to levels 8 and 9 at University was appropriate for their child or if an alternative pathway was more suitable. In a school where over 80% of our pupils apply to UCAS, it was important for us to highlight the many alternative options but ultimately make sure that the post school destinations are sustained and this is highly dependent on the suitability to the level of learning.
Becoming an SCQF School Ambassador
Following our SCQF Ambassador training the Guidance team had a clearer understanding that the number of points at each level is a good indication for progression to the next levels. This has proved very powerful in leading and directing young people and their parents through post-school destination decisions.
The materials provided by the SCQF Partnership have also been invaluable and these are made available to parents at all school events. We have also, through our school Twitter page (with almost 2000 followers), shared and posted content related to SCQF which we believe has gone a long way to helping parents understand their child’s qualifications.
Evidence so far includes:
- parents sharing that, given the qualifications vary so much to their own, they have a better understanding of what their child has achieved;
- all UCAS applicants are now including their skills profile as part of the qualifications section and they are referring to these in their personal statements;
- uptake in alternative courses in the Senior Phase (such as NPA courses) has increased as pupils and their parents feel less pressured to take subjects which will culminate in a ‘final grade’ as they previously thought that these carried more worth and relevance and short courses were useless;
- Understanding the SCQF has helped them to appreciate that all learning is valid and relevant and as more colleges and universities come on board to accepting SCQF credit points as part of their offers to students, I believe this will increase uptake further.
In February 2017 the SCQF Partnership trained 12 members of staff (including members of SLT, Principal teachers of Guidance and Curriculum and classroom teachers) as Ambassadors. Not only did this broaden their understanding of the Framework from a curricular point of view, but most were unaware of the formal recognition on offer for wider achievement. After the training took place teams were then formed to take forward specific projects which would ultimately benefit our pupils.
Three Principal Teachers of Curriculum formed a team to look at delivery of new units in S4 for Scottish Studies delivered through PE, Geography, Drama, Art and Social Subjects. In PE pupils completed a Social Dance unit. In Geography they will look at Scottish landscapes and in Drama they will be performing Scottish texts. We hope that going forward pupils can gain as many units as possible and, depending on their subject choices, they may be able to achieve 6 units which will give them an additional National 5 award.
Last session the Pupil Support Team delivered the Internet Safety award through PSE for all S4-S6 pupils. This not only raises awareness of social media issues that can affect young people which is already covered through the curriculum, but young people will receive formal credit for it. This session the team are delivering Leadership level 6 to all S6 pupils through PSE.
The PE department also delivered and presented all S4 pupils for a Well Being award, delivered through Core PE. Already we are finding that this is making core PE more valued by the pupils and giving them an aim, thus increasing pupil participation. In Hospitality, as this is a N4 course the Principal Teacher now believes that the young people can be presented for a Bakery qualification too, giving them further SCQF credit points. Lastly, within the Geography department in S3, all pupils can achieve the Travel + Tourism Destination Unit at SCQF level 4.
We have been delighted with the level of curriculum innovation the training has generated. Conversations are now taking place across the school about how to make courses meaningful but also look at areas where learning is taking place and pupils can gain credit points without too much additional workload for staff.
The Ambassador teachers have taken the lead on this and have already driven forward exciting new opportunities. The next step is to involve all staff and we plan to make this a feature at a future in-service day, giving staff time to see how they can maximise on pupil learning.
We already collate our pupils’ wider achievement from both in and out of school activities. We are pursuing how all young people can map these achievements using the SCQF. Those achievements, already recognised, are shared with pupils and this has increased motivation for participation in activities such as Duke Of Edinburgh. This has led our Ambassador team to research alternative personal development/ achievement awards which our pupils can be presented for as almost all pupils have a number of leadership roles and activities in and out of school.
Last session we also appointed a team of S6 leaders as SCQF Ambassadors. This role involves the pupils becoming experts on the Framework to allow them to present on this at year group assemblies.
The pupil ambassadors were also visible at parents’ evenings and parent information evenings. They have an SCQF ‘stall’ which offers the SCQF leaflets and documentation to parents and they are ready to answer questions related to the SCQF. This team then built capacity in last year’s S5 pupils so that they can take on this leadership responsibility this year.
Our SCQF Ambassadors work closely with our My World of Work Ambassadors. This team of pupils from S1-6 have specific knowledge of the My WoW website and are also visible at events to encourage all pupils and their parents to create an account. We feel these teams’ work complements one another and we are excited to offer this as a further leadership opportunity for our S6 pupils.
Understanding the SCQF is a Benefit to Pupils
Overall, since initial training took place, we have embraced the SCQF and shared the information related to it with staff, pupils and parents.
The specialist knowledge of our staff ambassadors and the subsequent momentum gained in terms of new qualifications being offered is really promising.
Bearsden Academy pupils and their parents are far more knowledgeable about all qualifications and how these are linking to their post-school destination pathways.
I would recommend all schools to consider forming a partnership with the SCQF as this has been an invaluable learning experience for all involved for the benefit of our pupils. I have thoroughly enjoyed leading this project and working with the team at the SCQF Partnership.
Interested in joining the SCQF School Ambassador Programme? Get more information or make an enquiry.