SQA – Special Arrangements

I attended an SQA seminar at the Scottish Sensory Centre last week where the special arrangements for Nat 3, 4 and 5 were being teased out.

There’s a video out (still under development we were told) outlining the changes/issues that face students as of 2014.


…. and Patricia Macdonald’s presentation.



All of the specifications will come into effect from August 2013.

Specification 1 – Course Assessment

In relation to National Courses at National 5 to Advanced Higher, exemption of an assessment component which comprises 30% or more of the total Course assessment will not be a reasonable adjustment.

Note — An assessment component refers to one of the seven agreed assessment methods in a Course assessment; they are assignment, case study, performance, practical activity, project, portfolio, question paper.

Find out more…

Specification 2 – Set Question Papers

In relation to National Courses at National 5 to Advanced Higher, the explanation of words or questions to candidates in a SQA-set question paper will not be a reasonable adjustment. Find out more…

Specification 3 – Literacy Units

In relation to the National Literacy Units at all levels: (i) exemption from demonstrating any of the four assessed skills of reading, writing, listening or talking will not be a reasonable adjustment and (ii) using human readers and scribes will not be reasonable adjustments where reading and writing abilities are being explicitly assessed. Find out more…

Specification 4 – Modern Languages & Gaelic Learners

In relation to National Units and Courses in Modern Languages and Gaelic (Learners) at all levels, human scribes or speech-recognition software will not be reasonable adjustments where the ability to write with technical accuracy in the target language is being explicitly assessed.

Note — Human scribes may be used in situations where the candidate is physically unable to write but is able to dictate and spell out words in the target language, letter by letter. Find out more…

Specification 5 – British Sign Language

In relation to National Units and Courses in Gàidhlig, Gaelic (Learners) and Modern Languages at all levels, using British Sign Language (BSL) to demonstrate reading, writing, talking or listening abilities in the particular language being assessed will not be a reasonable adjustment. Find out more…

Specification 6 – Communication Units

In relation to National Core Skills Communication Units and to National Certificate Communication Units, exemption from demonstrating abilities in reading, writing, listening or speaking will not be a reasonable adjustment. Find out more…

Also supplied were two sheets detailing the Outcomes and the Evidence Requirements for the Unit Literacy (Nat 3) and (Nat 4)

Biggest talking points were that if VI pupils are allowed to listen to text in the reading assessments, HI pupils should be allowed to read (subtitles) in the listening assessments. SQA reps said they’d take that request back to HQ.

Also mentioned was the overstated usefulness/uptake/benefits that Speech Recognition is given by SQA and other Government departments.


About Alan Stewart

I'm a teacher who changed direction after teaching visually impaired pupils. I became interested in how technology could assist young people overcome or deal with various disabilities. I've, since, been an Education Support Officer, an ICT Training Support Officer, and have been Coordinator of Highland's Assistive Technology Support Service for the past 20 years. I'm also the proud father of two young boys (2003 & 2008). View all posts by Alan Stewart

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