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20 years of the SCQF

Rob Wallen headshot - chair of SCQFP Board
Rob Wallen - Chair of SCQFP Board

To celebrate 20 years of the SCQF our current Chair of the Board, Rob Wallen, reflects on how the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework has been an essential tool in allowing educational change to take place in Scotland, facilitating lifelong learning and providing equality between academic and vocational qualifications.


During my career in education, as a teacher and as a manager, I have worked in four education systems - in Egypt, in China, In England and in Scotland - each of which was different from the others and had its strengths.

One particular strength of the Scottish education system in the 21st Century has been the increasingly high level of integration that has been achieved – integration between secondary, further and higher education, and integration between “academic” and “vocational” types of learning.

The situation in which your educational future – and employment prospects – were set in stone before you had reached your teens has increasingly been replaced with one where opportunities exist throughout life, and avenues exist to allow smooth transition between institutions, between “levels” of education and between vocational and academic qualifications.


For the past 20 years the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework has been an essential tool in allowing this change to take place in Scotland. It provides an objective, calibrated, quality-assured way of calculating and recording the complexity and breadth - the level and credit value - of different types of learning and training undertaken in different settings and institutions.


The Framework grew out of work that had been undertaken earlier to develop specific links between sectors of education – such as the SWAP programme to develop entry routes to universities for people who did not have Highers. But it was developed with a much more comprehensive integration in mind, showing how each type of learning can be “compared” and linked into effective pathways.


And it was developed by a partnership of institutions that represented all sections of the Scottish education system – Universities Scotland, the Quality Assurance Agency Scotland, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, and the College Development Network – with input from bodies that represent industry-specific training (such as the Scottish Training Federation) as well as Scottish Government – and as such it has unquestioned credibility and coherence.


The resulting Framework has stood the test of time and has developed in terms of the number and variety of qualifications that are included on it. There are now over 11,800 qualifications on the SCQF and around 1,100 of these are owned by public, private and third sector organisations such as the NHS, B-DACS and Young Enterprise Scotland. There are programmes on the SCQF that recognise the wider achievements of young people as well as many professional and vocational qualifications which support sectors such as the emergency services, management and leadership, oil and gas and construction.


It has provided the underpinning for many important developments - such as calibrating the educational achievement of asylum seekers against Scottish standards and the skills of forces veterans against civilian qualifications - so that they can find appropriate employment and maximise their contribution to Scottish society. The SCQF is regarded as a world-leading model that other nations aspire to emulate.


It is, when all is said, a fantastic resource that belongs to the people of Scotland and provides them with a highly effective way of realising the ambition to reduce educational and economic inequality and to realise the potential of all of its citizens.

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