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May 7, 2024

Unite warns of trouble ahead in Scotland as SQA staff accept new pay offer

Last month, Unite confirmed that more than 400 SQA workers would begin a period of prolonged industrial action in a row over pay, including 24-hour stoppages, a ban on overtimes, and a ban on weekend working.

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May 1, 2024

SQA strike could have ‘major impact’ on Scotland exam preparations

Ministers are being warned that strike action by staff at the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) could have a “major impact” on preparations for this year’s exams.

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Jul 5, 2023

Scotland teachers 'dismayed' over delay to abolish SQA exam body

Teachers will be "dismayed" that plans to abolish the SQA exams body have been delayed, Scotland's biggest education union has said. The EIS said the agency's reputation was already "in tatters".

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Jun 28, 2023

National 5: Radical plan for Scotland school exams expected

A radical review of school qualifications in Scotland is to be published before the end of the month. The review was commissioned by the Scottish government to look at how well the system is working after Standard Grades were abolished 10 years ago.

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Dec 31, 2021

Exam pass rate in Scotland down from last year but higher than pre-Covid levels

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted yet another year of education in Scotland, as shown by their school results this year.

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Sep 20, 2021

School results in Scotland dip slightly after year of disruption

Pupils achieve record A grades but attainment gap between the most deprived and affluent students widens

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Dec 31, 2020

Scotland cancels all exams next year

Scotland Education Secretary has officially announced that they will cancel all exams, including the Higher exams, for next year. This comes after a previous decision to cancel the National 5 exams and delaying others due safety concerns with the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Nov 13, 2020

Scottish National 5 exams to be cancelled in 2021

Scotland Education Secretary Swinney announced that National 5 exams are canceled for 2021 due to concerns from the Covid-19 pandemic. This comes after the 2020 exams were canceled for the first time in history.

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Oct 30, 2020

Scottish school pupils have results upgraded

Thousands of school pupils have their exam results upgraded after the Scottish government agreed to accept teacher estimates. This comes after an outcry from pupils about scores being downgraded.

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Aug 11, 2020

Scotland's results day: Thousands of pupils have exam grades lowered

Thousands of Scottish school pupils have received worse results than they had been expecting after the country's exam body lowered 125,000 estimated grades that were accessed by teachers. Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) faces backlash and First Minister of Scotland apologizes after accepting her government "did not get it right" over Scottish exam results.

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Scotland lies on the northern third of the island of Great Britain. It is bordered by England to the south, the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Irish Sea. The population is 5,144,200 and the literacy rate is 99%.

After the Ice Age, hunter-gatherers arrived in the area of present-day Scotland. It was briefly occupied by the Romans. The Kingdom of the Picts was established in the 6th century AD and lasted until the late 13th century with the death of Queen Margaret. This was followed by the Bruce Dynasty and then the Stuart Dynasty which ruled throughout the Middle Ages. The 1707 Act of Union united England and Scotland, and Great Britain was formed.


The educational system of Scotland is different from the rest of the United Kingdom. There is a long history of formal education in Scotland. Schools run by churches were established during the Middle Ages, and the Scottish Parliament established schools during the 17th century. Many acts during the 19th century established free and compulsory education, made schools the responsibility of local boards rather than churches, and required teachers to have some form of training.

English is the language of instruction, and some schools in the Gaelic-speaking part of the country teach some classes in Gaelic. Education is free and compulsory from ages 5 to 16. Currently, Scotland's Department for Education oversees the country's secondary education system while the Department of Education, Training, and Skills oversees tertiary education.

Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF)

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) is the national qualifications framework of Scotland and organizes the country’s qualifications in 12 levels. In the SCQF, levels 1-12 describe the degree of difficulty, with 12 representing the highest level of complexity (e.g., doctoral degree). The credit points, on the other hand, describe the size of the qualification and the time taken to complete it. One SCQF credit represents approximately 10 hours of learning, and one year of full-time academic study in Scottish higher education is 120 SCQF credits.

Primary and Secondary Education

Primary school (P1-P7) is 7 years. No credential is awarded after completion of primary school.

All secondary educational qualifications in Scotland are organized in the National Credit and Qualifications Framework which has 5 levels: Access (has 3 different sub-levels 1-3), Intermediate 1, Intermediate 2, Higher and Advanced Higher. Access 3 replaces the former Standard Grade Foundation Certificate, Intermediate 1 replaces Scottish Certificate of Education (SCE) General level, and Intermediate 2 replaces SCE Credit level. The Advanced Higher Level replaced the former Certificate of Sixth Year Studies.

Lower secondary (S1-S4) school is four years and after completion of S4, students sit for the Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC) Intermediate 2. The SQC was formerly known as the Scottish Certificate of Education (SCE). Upper secondary is two years (S5-S6). After completion of S5, students sit for SQC examinations at the Higher level or at an appropriate National Qualifications Framework level. After completion of S6, students sit for SQC examinations at the Advanced Higher, Higher, or at a lower level.

Post-Secondary Education

Universities were founded in Scotland in the 15th and 16th centuries, and there are currently 14 universities operating in Scotland in addition to 6 other higher education institutions. All are funded by the Scottish Funding Council. There are no private higher education institutions in Scotland. Admission to higher education institutions requires grades of A-C on the Higher or Advanced Higher level examinations, or a Higher National Certificate or Higher National Diploma. Applications to higher education institutions in Scotland are centralized at the Universities and Colleges Admission Services (UCAS).

First Cycle, Academic

The first level of university study is 3 years and students are awarded a Bachelor's Ordinary or General degree, while the ancient universities (St. Andrew's, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow) award a Master's Ordinary or General degree after 3 years of study. Bachelor's Honours degrees are 4 years and are more specialized than the Ordinary and General degrees, and the ancient universities award a Master's Honours degree after 4 years of study.

First Cycle, Vocational/Technical

Vocational/technical post-secondary education is offered at local colleges. The certificates were previously awarded by the Scottish Vocational Education Council (SCOTVEC), and are now awarded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). The Higher National Certificate is 1 year, and the Higher National Diploma is a 2-year program.

Second and Third Cycles

Post-graduate programs include the Postgraduate Certificate which represents 6 months to 3 years of study, the Postgraduate Diploma which represents 1-5 years of study, and the Master's degree, Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Master of Letters (MLitt) which are 1 to 3 years of study. Doctoral programs are 3 to 5 years longer and require a Bachelor's Honours, Master's Honours, a master's degree, MPhil or MLitt for admission. Upon successful defense of a dissertation and oral examination, students are awarded a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).

The Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBChB), Bachelor of Dentistry, and the Bachelor of Veterinary Science are 5-year programs requiring a Higher Level certificate for admission, in addition to other entrance examinations.



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