Schools Update - Scottish qualification authority (sqa) alternative certification model

See our updates on the SQA alternative certification model that will be used to determine provisional National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher results.

Speech bubble update

Update: 13 May 2021

Update: 2 March 2021

Letter to parents from our Head of Education (Quality & Curriculum) on SQA alternative certification model that will be used to determine provisional National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher results.

Dear Parent

I am aware that many of you are anxious to know what is happening in relation to your child's SQA outcomes (including coursework) following the announcement that the 2021 exam diet has been cancelled. Inevitably this announcement has created uncertainty for our young people who were working towards sitting exams in May 2021. I want to reassure you and your child that their teachers will be doing everything they can to ensure your child achieves their best possible qualifications.

Last week saw the return to school of a small number of our senior phase pupils for the purpose of completing practical work in certain subjects. For the remainder of subjects, teachers continue to deliver remote learning for senior phase learners. Positive feedback on remote learning is providing reassurance that good progress is being made in covering required course content. Schools will continue to encourage and support leaners and to monitor their engagement in the remote learning provision.

We know that all learners have experienced disruption to their learning this session. Actions have therefore been taken across the Scottish education system to ensure your child has time to complete the assessments needed by their teachers and/or lecturers. The SQA alternative certification model will be used to determine provisional results. More detailed information on what this involves can be found at 2021 Delivering National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher results in 2020-21 - parents/carers (

Your child's provisional results will be based on the assessments they complete, these assessments will be consistent with SQA's level and subject-specific guidance. The SQA has published these subject-specific guidance documents and assessment resources for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses. These resources will support teachers in planning the assessments for young people once they have returned fully to school.

Your school will be able to share the detail of their assessment plans and how they will affect your child, when they have more information on the planned return date. Please be assured that teachers know that when your child returns to their various classrooms, they will need time to review and recap on the learning they engaged in remotely. As such, the assessment plans will extend through April, May and early into June. This will therefore provide as much time as possible both to consolidate learning and to carry out the various assessments.

The final date for your child's school, college or training provider to send provisional results to the SQA is Friday 25 June 2021. At this point, the SQA will check for any administrative errors that may have occurred when schools, colleges and training providers entered the data into the system. Therefore, before provisional results are submitted to the SQA, all schools will be involved in a robust quality assurance process that will allow checks to be made on the accuracy of the grades awarded. This process will involve checks being carried out in school, across the local authority, within the regional improvement collaborative and nationally by the SQA. These checks will make sure that assessments and marking are accurate, and consistent with the national standard.

Your child will receive their final results by post on Tuesday 10 August 2021, and by text and or email if they register for this service at

Thank you for your ongoing support during these unprecedented times.

Yours faithfully

Jim Brown
Head of Education (Quality & Curriculum)