National Qualifications

National Qualifications

SQA course reports

7 November 2017 (SQA)

SQA has published the National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher course reports for the 2017 examinations. These reports contain information about the performance of candidates in the examinations as well as advice for teachers. SCILT will summarise these reports in due course, but in the meantime they can be accessed by clicking on the following links and selecting the ‘Verification and Course Reports’ tab:

SQA recruiting event verifiers

30 October 2017 (SQA)

Develop your knowledge of assessment requirements. SQA is recruiting for Event Verifiers for National Qualifications in ESOL, Chinese, Gaelic (Learners), Gàidhlig, German, Italian, and Urdu.


SQA Spanish Appointee Opportunities – 2018 Exam Diet

18 October 2017 (SQA)

SQA is currently advertising the following 2018 Exam Diet Appointee roles for Spanish:

Team Leaders will assist the Higher Principal Assessor with post-examination procedures and support a team of Markers during marking activity.

The Senior Marker will support the AH Principal Assessor with procedural activity across Talking Performance, Portfolio & Papers 1&2.

Support and training will be provided.

Further detail about the roles is available via the links above, where applications may be submitted. Closing date is Sunday 5 November 2017.
Please feel free to forward this information to any practitioners who may be interested in applying.
If you have any queries please contact Elaine Clusker, Qualification Officer:

SQA vacancies: Modern Languages Event Verifiers

12 October 2017 (SQA)

Are you looking for CPD opportunities? Become an appointee for SQA – apply to be an Event Verifier in Modern Languages. It's a really worthwhile role and great professional development in relation to building confidence about national standards.

Visit the SQA website for more information and to apply by 29 October.


National 5 Modern Languages update

6 October 2017 (SCILT/SQA)

The course specification for National 5 has been updated following the Scottish Government announcement that unit assessments will no longer be mandatory from session 2016-17 at this level. As well as extracting the key points providing an overview of the content and assessment requirements, we now have links to SQA's recording of the National 5 webinar held in April/May and repeated in September/October 2017 on our website.

Other National Qualifications will be reviewed and updated in due course.


1+2 approach to language learning: National road shows for the secondary sector - May/June 2017

15 September 2017 (Education Scotland)

This video resource contains the key messages by speakers from the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES), Education Scotland, the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS), and SCILT, Scotland's National Centre for Languages, on the 1+2 approach to language learning and the impact of the policy in the secondary sector. The resource also contains key PowerPoint slides.

This resource can be used in modern languages departments, to support discussion around transition, entitlement and effective timetabling for L2 (first additional language) and L3 (second additional language).

Visit the Education Scotland website for more information.


N5 Modern Languages: assignment-writing understanding standards materials

25 August 2017 (SQA)

Eight pieces of candidate evidence with commentaries for the new Assignment – writing component of the National 5 Modern Languages course for 2017-18 have been published on SQA’s Understanding Standards website. These contain examples in French, German and Spanish. Further examples in other languages will be published as soon as these are developed.


Languages under pressure after fall in pupils taking German and French

9 August 2017 (The Herald)

THE number of pupils choosing key modern languages has fallen sharply.

Figures from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) show the number of entries for Higher French dropped from 4,581 in 2016 to 3,918 this year.

The figures for German have also fallen, with entries declining from 1,019 to 890 year-on-year.

However, the increasing popularity of Spanish has continued, with entries rising from 2,600 last year to 2,809.

Entries at the lower National 5 level for French and German have also fallen.


Related Links

'Disappointing' decline in pupils sitting Gaelic qualifications (The Herald, 10 August 2017)

Top marks for pupil who attended three Glasgow schools

9 August 2017 (Evening Times)

One student has defied the odds to become one of Glasgow’s top achievers while attending not one but three city schools. 

Valentina Kanife moved to Glasgow from her home country of Italy in September 2015. When the 16-year-old joined the S4 class in St Margaret Mary’s in Castlemilk, she could not speak any English. Soon after starting the school, it became apparent that Valentina had a skill for languages and began working towards gaining her National 4’s. 

Staff at St Margaret Mary’s staff organised for Valentina to attend Holyrood Secondary for Higher Italian and Kings Park Secondary for Higher ESOL, while being taught Higher Spanish and National 5 maths at her own school. With the help of a bus pass, the teenager travelled between the three schools, sometimes on the same day. After a year of handwork, Valentia managed to gain all three Highers and a National 5 Maths qualifications, all within two years of being in Glasgow.


Scottish MSPs warn of narrow curriculum as uptake of creative subjects declines

8 August 2017 (The Guardian)

The number of Scottish school pupils and students taking modern languages, social sciences and arts has fallen, prompting warnings from opposition parties over the dangers of a narrowing curriculum.

Official data showed the number of exam passes at Higher, a near equivalent to English A-levels, across Scotland’s schools and colleges held steady at 77%, falling very slightly by 0.2%.

But Labour and the Conservatives expressed concern that the Scottish curriculum was narrowing after the Scottish Qualifications Authority figures showed the numbers sitting modern languages at Higher fell by 6% overall, with history down by nearly 4% and geography by 2.6%.


Slump in foreign language students sparks fear for UK competitiveness

5 August 2017 (The Herald)

FRESH concerns have been raised that not enough youngsters are learning foreign languages, as figures show a slump in applications to study the subject at university.

The numbers of applications for degree courses linked to European languages have fallen by almost a quarter in the past five years, while the numbers for other language courses have dropped by almost a fifth, according to an analysis by the Press Association. At the same time, there has been a decline in the numbers studying languages traditionally offered by schools, such as French and German, to GCSE and A-level.

The analysis indicates Spanish has grown in popularity in recent times along with other courses, such as Arabic and Chinese.

The British Council, which specialises in international cultural relations, warned that if the UK is to remain globally competitive in the wake of Brexit it needs more young people to be learning languages.


‘Worrying’ fall in pupils taking foreign languages

31 July 2017 (The Scotsman)

Scotland has seen a “worry-
ing” fall in the number of pupils studying languages, it has emerged.

There are now fears that the next generation will not be equipped to deal with the demands of the global 

There has been a dramatic fall in the number of 
youngsters sitting French and German, although more are learning Spanish.

Opposition parties called on the SNP to focus on the “day job” of running schools. But ministers insist there has been a rise in the number of pupils gaining languages qualification at Higher level.

There were more than 56,000 pupils taking modern languages at Standard Grade level a decade ago. By last year, under the new exam system, this had fallen to just over 23,000 – a 59 per cent decline.

Labour’s shadow education minister Daniel Johnson said: “Learning a foreign language is such a valuable skill for 
Scotland’s next generation.

“Whether for travel, employment or just breaking down barriers between people from different countries, a new 
language can open up the world to a young person.

“It is therefore incredibly worrying to see such a huge decline in the number of pupils sitting modern language courses. The SNP talks about connecting Scotland with the world, but that can only happen if people are equipped with the 
languages they need. In the 21st century, the workforce is becoming more global and economic growth here in Scotland depends on interaction with our European neighbours.

“We need to reduce as many barriers to economic growth as possible, and these figures show how important it is for SNP ministers to get back to the day job of improving 
standards in our schools.”


Related Links

Dramatic decline in number of pupils learning foreign languages (The Times, 31 July 2017)

Scots pupils saying ‘Non’ to languages (Sunday Post, 30 July 2017)

SQA update - National 5 Modern Languages

SQA (23 June 2017)

The following documents will be available for all National 5 Modern Languages courses by the afternoon of Friday 23 June:
  • Coursework assessment task - assignment (writing)
  • Coursework assessment task - performance (talking)
  • Course support notes
The course support notes will be added to the National 5 course specification as an appendix. The course specification will then be updated to version 2.0 and the date will change to June 2017, but there is no further change to the content of this document.


French workshops for Higher and Advanced Higher students

30 May 2017 (Institut français)

The Institut français is offering a series of 4 workshops from September to December 2017 to help S5 and S6 students preparing for their exam.

Visit the Institut français website for further details and to apply by 23 June.


National 5 Modern Languages Course Specification

4 May 2017 (SQA)

SQA has just published the revised National 5 Course Specification.

This document contains important information about the changes to the Performance of Talking and the new Assignment-Writing.

The document can be accessed on the SQA website.


SQA National 5 Modern Languages webinars

31 March 2017 (SQA)

The SQA is running a series of subject-specific continuing professional development (CPD) webinars to help you prepare for the revised National 5 course assessments that are being introduced in session 2017-18. The Modern Languages webinars will take place on Thursday 20 April, Monday 24 April and Thursday 4 May, and will focus on the requirements of the revised assessments.

Further details of the webinars are provided on the SQA's NQ events page. Please note that places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Please note also that the content of Modern Languages webinars is the same, and colleagues need only attend one of the three scheduled.

For those unable to secure a place, recordings of the webinars will be published on the SQA website within six weeks of the webinar date. This will be accompanied by a transcript of any questions and answers discussed during the webinars.

Details of published webinars will be provided in SQA Centre News over the coming months.


Curriculum for Excellence Benchmarks

23 March 2017 (Education Scotland)

The Benchmarks in modern languages provide clarity on the national standards expected from first to fourth curricular level.

They draw together and streamline a wide range of previous assessment guidance (including significant aspects of learning, progression frameworks and annotated exemplars) into one key resource to support teachers’ and other practitioners’ professional judgement of children’s and young people’s progress.

The Benchmarks will also support consistency in teachers’ professional judgements and will help teachers to ensure that young people achieve the pace of progress they need right across the Broad General Education.

The Benchmarks can be accessed on Education Scotland's National Improvement Hub along with Benchmarks exemplification to support practitioners to use the Benchmarks.


Summary of SQA Course Reports for National 5 Modern Languages

23 March 2017 (SCILT)

We have summarised the Course Reports for National 5 Modern Languages and Gàidhlig. These reports highlight areas where candidates performed well in the 2016 exam and areas where they encountered difficulty.

They contain sound advice for both teachers and pupils in the run up to this year's exam diet.

The full report for each language can be accessed on the SQA website under the Verification and Course Reports tab.

The summary reports are attached below and can also be found on the Senior Phase, Essentials for Planning page on the SCILT website under the SQA Qualifications tab.


Summary of SQA Course Reports for Higher and AH Modern Languages 2016

16 March 2017 (SCILT)

We have summarised the Course Reports for Higher and Advanced Higher Modern Languages and Gàidhlig. These reports highlight areas where candidates performed well in the 2016 exam and areas where they encountered difficulty.

They contain sound advice for both teachers and pupils in the run up to this year's exam diet.

The full report for each language can be accessed on the SQA website under the Verification and Course Reports tab.

The summary reports are attached below and can also be found on the Senior Phase, Essentials for Planning page on the SCILT website under the SQA Qualifications tab.


Learn French at the Institut français d'Ecosse

17 February 2017 (Institut français d'Ecosse)

The Institut français offers classes and workshops for all ages (toddlers to adults), from complete beginners to fluent speakers.

Enrolment is open for Spring term classes beginning in April.

Students undertaking National 5, Highers and Advanced Highers can also register for a preparation course running 3-7 April.

Visit the website for full details and to enrol.


Professional Learning for Teachers of Gaelic Medium Education (GME)

27 January 2017 (Education Scotland)

Streap, the Postgraduate Teaching Certificate for teachers of GME will start on 4 September 2017. There are a limited number of places available. An induction event takes place in Glasgow on 14 and 15 September 2017. There is now a Facebook page relating to this professional learning. Please email for more information. This programme is currently fully funded by the Scottish Government.

Find out more about the programme on the University of Aberdeen website.


Choice of subjects is ‘not narrowing under CfE’

27 January 2017 (TESS)

Education directors have dismissed fears that pupils’ subject choices are narrowing under Curriculum for Excellence, insisting they have “far greater” choice than in the past.

MSPs have raised concerns that many pupils are only taking six subjects in S4 under new national qualifications, whereas eight would have been typical under the previous system.

Terry Lanagan, executive officer for education directors’ body ADES, said it was a mistake to look at S4 in isolation, since the “senior phase” was built around pupils accruing qualifications over a three-year period.

The former West Dunbartonshire education director also highlighted that schools could take more flexible approaches, such as joining forces to offer certain subjects or bringing in college lecturers to work with pupils. Greater priority was now given to so-called vocational qualifications, he added.

[..] Figures published in December show the numbers of secondary teachers by main subject taught from 2008-16. TESS examined subjects with more than 500 teachers in 2016 and found that French, computing and home economics are under extreme pressure.

The article can be read in full in TESS online, issue 27 January 2017 (subscription required).


Principal Assessor and Deputy Principal Assessor - Higher Chinese languages

23 January 2017 (SQA)

SQA is inviting applications for a Principal Assessor in Higher Chinese Languages to lead the team as well as a Deputy Principal Assessor (DPA) in Higher Chinese Languages. The DPA is a new role in a slightly altered structure which will become operational for Diet 2017. The primary role of the Deputy Principal Assessor is to support the Principal Assessor.

Details of both roles can be found by following the relevant link below to the SQA website:

Training and support will be provided for both roles.

Cuts forcing schools to axe language and science exams

19 January 2017 (The Herald)

Schools are having to cut the number of subjects they offer to pupils as a direct result of cuts, teachers’ leaders have warned.

An education union said current budgetary pressures meant courses such as extra languages and sciences could not run unless at least ten pupils were interested.

The concerns were raised at a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s education committee which is examining the roll-out of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) reforms.


SQA update to AH Modern Languages guidance on past paper usage

16 January 2017 (SQA)

The SQA has produced updated guidance documents on the use of past paper questions for Advanced Higher Modern Languages (Chinese, Italian, French, Spanish, German and Gaelic learners).

These can be found on the SQA Advanced Higher Modern Languages webpage under the 'Specimen Question Papers and Marking Instructions' section.


SQA Marker Opportunities

12 January 2017 (SQA)

SQA currently has Marker vacancies in the following areas:

  • AH French Paper 1 and Paper 2 (Reading and Translation and Listening and Discursive Writing) - this is a MFI Central Marking event which takes place from Thursday 1 June - Sunday 4 June 2017 inclusive
  • AH French Portfolio - this is traditionally marked and the Marker meeting take place on Wednesday 10 May 2017.

If you would like to be considered for AH French marking please complete the online application form stating which components you would like to mark confirming your availability to attend either the marking meeting and or the central marking event.

Details can be found in the marker advert on the SQA website.

Current markers who wish to be considered for a change of level should also complete an application form confirming current delivery of AH French for at least 2 years.


SQA updates January 2017

9 January 2017 (SQA)

The SQA has updated the Course Assessment Specification document and several Specimen Question Papers on the Advanced Higher Modern Languages page of their website.


SQA Course Reports

15 December 2016 (SQA)

SQA has now published the Modern Languages course reports for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher.

These contain helpful information on candidate performance in the 2017 examinations as well as providing invaluable advice to centres. Teachers may find the information particularly useful in the run up to prelims.

To access the reports for all Modern Languages visit the SQA website and choose National 5, Higher or Advanced Higher.

The course reports can be found under the tab Verification and Course Reports at the bottom of the page.

SCILT will summarise the key messages and publish them on the website early in the New Year.


French oral revision courses: Higher and Advanced Higher

23 November 2016 (Alliance Française)

As in previous years, the Alliance Française de Glasgow will be running Higher and Advanced Higher Oral Preparation courses for pupils who will be sitting their French oral examinations in 2017.

The sessions will take place during February 2017.

Visit the Alliance Française website for further information and to enrol.


Capable linguists put off by ‘ridiculous’ grade boundary

18 November 2016 (TESS)

Grade boundaries set at “ridiculous” levels are driving pupils away from languages and leaving talented linguists with lower results than they deserve, it has been claimed.

Languages teachers fear their subjects – which are already suffering from falling numbers – will be sidelined further as they gain a reputation among pupils as “hard” options that could put their university places at risk.

Of the 30 most popular Highers, German and French set the bar highest for an A grade (78 per cent and 77 per cent, respectively); Spanish is also above most subjects, with 73 per cent required for an A.

Gillian Campbell-Thow, chair of the Scottish Association for Language Teaching (Salt), said: “Learners who were expecting to get an A, having had high marks all year, were of course disappointed. For some, it impacted on their access to further and higher education.”

As TESS has reported, the situation for modern languages has already been described as “near critical” this year because of a decrease in pupils taking the subjects at S4.

Ms Campbell-Thow said that, at Higher, “we are now seeing learners opting for subjects where they feel they are more likely to get an A”.

Languages teachers are also reportedly narrowing their focus. Ms Campbell-Thow said that one Salt member “felt she had to take out a lot of the creative content…in favour of teaching to a test, which flies in the face of Curriculum for Excellence”.

She added: “We don’t want to find ourselves teaching to an exam, using rote learning and effectively putting a ceiling on skills development and language acquisition, but the worry of letting down learners and parents…has left our practitioners feeling both vulnerable and under pressure.”

The full article can be accessed on TESS online, 18 November 2016 (subscription required).


By the numbers: the decline of specialist subjects

4 November 2016 (TESS)

Although archaeology is going to be withdrawn as an A-level option, there are other subjects that attract far fewer students.

[..] In Scotland, the lowest number of entries for a subject at Higher was for Gaelic as a foreign language, with 84, while 92 students took Urdu.

The full list of lowest entry A Levels / Highers is available in TESS online, 4 November 2016 (subscription required).


SCHOLAR support for Advanced Higher modern languages

11 October 2016 (SCHOLAR / Heriot-Watt)

SCHOLAR would like to bring to your attention their support for learners at Advanced Higher French, German and Spanish tackling the Specialist Study and Portfolio. Within the ‘Culture’ area, there is an extensive set of activities taking learners through every aspect of these areas. There is also a record, downloadable as a word document in both French and German, to help learners keep a record in the target language. This has the aim of helping them both prepare for the visit of the external examiner, and collect information to allow them to present their evidence for the Specialist Study Unit in the target language.

Search for Scholar HW, or use the login link.

Log in with your ID and password, which your school has!


SQA news

29 September 2016 (SQA)

The following news items from the SQA may be of interest to language teachers:

Removal of Higher exemplar question papers

Exemplar question papers (EQPs) were created as a revision resource for learners during implementation of the new Higher and Advanced Higher National Qualifications. As we now have two years' worth of past papers for new Higher as well as a specimen question paper for each subject with an exam, the EQPs will be removed from SQA's open website in the week commencing 24 October 2016. Associated guidance documents and guidance on the use of past papers documents will also be removed at this time.

The Advanced Higher EQPs and associated guidance will remain for session 2016-17 and will be removed from the website in July 2017.

Marker opportunities 2017

Are you an enthusiastic and committed teaching professional looking for a new challenge? Do you want to gain valuable insight that will benefit your students? SQA markers are at the heart of our examination operations, gaining valuable insight into assessment and quality assurance processes.

We are currently recruiting markers across all subjects and levels for the 2017 examinations.

Please note that applicants must have at least two years of teaching experience at the level they wish to mark.  Find out more about becoming an SQA marker.

Language Immersion Days for Higher and Advanced Higher

20 September 2016 (UWS)

The Languages for All team at University of the West of Scotland (UWS) are offering language immersion classes in French, German, Mandarin or Spanish to support Higher and Advanced Higher students.

The half-day classes are designed to suit the academic needs of students who wish to enhance essential skills in language such as reading, writing, speaking and listening. These classes will prepare students for their SQA final exams.

The classes can either be held in one of the UWS campuses - Ayr, Dumfries, Hamilton or Paisley. Alternatively UWS lecturers can travel to your local authority facilities.

To find out more and how to arrange a session, visit the UWS website.


SCHOLAR live online sessions

5 September 2016 (SCHOLAR)

Need help with Computing Science, Maths or Modern Languages? SCHOLAR online homework sessions are back!

The first for Higher and Advanced Higher Modern Languages is 'Using SCHOLAR to help you succeed' on Tuesday 27 September at 6pm.

Visit the website for the full schedule of upcoming sessions this term.


Calls to axe SNP’s flagship Baccalaureate after snub by pupils

15 August 2016 (The Scotsman)

John Swinney is being urged to ditch the SNP’s flagship Scottish Baccalaureate qualification after it emerged that ­only 103 pupils achieved the award this year.

The qualification was introduced seven years ago with the aim of raising the profile of sciences and languages in schools.

But it has suffered from a lack of interest among pupils more focussed on Highers, which are traditionally seen as the route to university and employment.

Labour now say it should be replaced with a new Scottish Graduation Certificate for the senior phase of secondary school, which would involve vocational courses, work experience, voluntary work and traditional exams.


Related Links

Fresh call for scrapping of unpopular Scottish Baccalaureate (The Herald, 15 August 2016)

SQA Understanding Standards events 2016/17

21 June 2016 (SQA)

The SQA will be running a programme of subject-specific Understanding Standards events from October 2016 to January 2017 to help teachers understand the standards required for course assessment in National Qualifications. The majority of these events will focus on course assessment at Advanced Higher, although there will also be a number of additional events for other qualifications where a specific need has been identified.

The events will be led by our Qualifications Development staff and are intended for subject specialists from SQA centres. There will be a maximum of one delegate place per centre, per subject.

Attendance at any of these events can be used to contribute to Continued Professional Development (CPD). CPD certificates will be available on the Events Booking System shortly after each event.

Find out more about the programme of events and how to book your place on the SQA website.


SQA update - AH Spanish Verification

13 June 2016 (SQA)

The SQA has just published Spanish Verification Key Messages Round 2.  The document can be accessed on the Advanced Higher Modern Languages page of the SQA website, under the Verification and Course Reports section.


SQA Modern Languages update - May 2016

31 May 2016 (SQA)

The SQA has recently published their National Qualification update for Modern Languages.


SQA National 5 Modern Languages Course Reports Summary

19 April 2016 (SCILT)

We have summarised the SQA National 5 Course Reports for all languages. These reports contain important information on how candidates performed in last year's exams. Teachers may find it useful to share some of the key messages of these reports with candidates in advance of this year's exams.

The summary document can be found on the Essentials for Planning in the Senior Phase section of our website.


Advanced Higher French resource: Silence de la mer

19 April 2016 (SCILT)

We have developed a pack of resources on Silence de la Mer which are suitable for Advanced Higher French pupils who have limited teaching input.

The pack includes information on the Specialist Study Unit; suggested timescales; character analysis; themes; suggested portfolio titles and a glossary of vocabulary.

The resource can be accessed on the Senior Phase French AH resources section of our website.


SQA National Qualifications March 2016 update

31 March 2016 (SQA)

Latest updates on the new National Qualifications are available on the SQA website.

If you're a teaching professional looking for a new challenge, included in this update are additional marker opportunities in 2016 for French and Spanish Higher exams.


SQA Modern Languages Audio Presentations

31 March 2016 (SQA)

SQA has published Modern Languages Audio Presentations providing additional support for centres and practitioners. The presentations provide a detailed overview of the standards and assessment for both Unit and Course assessment.

The presentations can be downloaded from the SQA website.


SQA Higher Modern Languages Course Reports (2015)

7 January 2016 (SCILT / SQA)

We have summarised the Higher Modern Languages Course Reports and highlighted the key messages across all the languages.

These reports contain information on how candidates performed in the 2015 exam diet and give important advice on how to prepare candidates for forthcoming examinations, as well as for the Performance of Talking

The full reports can be accessed on the SQA website.


SQA updates - Advanced Higher Modern Languages

14 December 2015 (SQA)

The SQA has updated a number of files on their Advanced Higher Modern Languages webpage.

A list of updates is attached and the files can be accessed on the SQA website.


Related Files

Subject choice is vital in improving children's life chances, researchers say

20 November 2015 (TESS)

The Scottish government’s drive to close the attainment gap will fail to boost the life chances of deprived children because many are not choosing the right subjects, research suggests.

The University of Edinburgh researchers call for academic subjects such as English, maths, sciences and languages to be compulsory for longer and for schools to give pupils better advice about the long-term implications of their decisions.

(Please note a TES/TESS subscription is required to access the online article in full).


Language Trends 2014-2015

5 November 2015 (SCILT)

We have conducted a brief analysis of published SQA language statistics at SCQF levels 4-7 in 2014 and 2015.

See the 'Language Trends in Scotland 2014-15' report on our website.


SQA National Qualifications Update - Modern Languages

30 October 2015 (SQA)

SQA has published its Course Reports for Modern Languages containing the key messages from the 2014-15 diet.

Read the document on the SQA website.


Availability of past papers for all Modern Languages qualifications

21 October 2015 (SCILT/SQA)

We have been advised by the SQA that there are no plans to remove 'old NQ' materials out with the SQA retention policy. That is that all past paper materials on the site is available for 5 years after the examination - so from now 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011 materials are available.

SQA only clears copyright for the years the materials are published and therefore centres should not store materials out with that period.

There has been no specific communication to centres on this matter as there has not been a change to policy or practice.

Past materials can be found on the SQA website.


SCHOLAR Modern Languages sessions

8 October 2015 (Heriot-Watt University)

The SCHOLAR programme offered by Heriot-Watt University offers a number of support sessions in a variety of subjects for students undertaking National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher examinations.

Attached is the programme of online events taking place from October 2015 to March 2016 to support Modern Languages.

For more information about the SCHOLAR programme visit the Heriot-Watt SCHOLAR website.


Related Files

SQA vacancies - Visiting Assessors for AH Modern Languages

28 August 2015 (SQA)

SQA is currently seeking to recruit additional Visiting Assessors (VA) to conduct Talking assessments at Advanced Higher level in Modern Languages.

Applications can be found following the relevant links below. You will also find information here relating to contract specification, selection criteria and key performance measures.

Closing date for all applications: 1 November 2015.

Language uptake may be blooming, but ‘all is not rosy’

20 August 2015 (TESS)

Recent improvements in uptake do not spell the end of the decline in language learning, the president of the Scottish Association for Language Teaching has warned.

Gillian Campbell-Thow told TESS this week that while there was a “need to be optimistic”, she did not believe “the magic wand has been waved and all is rosy in the garden”.

Figures released by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) on exam results day earlier this month revealed an increase in entries for most modern languages at Higher level, leading some to believe that the decline of recent years had been reversed. The number of students sitting the new or old Higher exam in French was almost 10 per cent more than last year at 4,572 compared with 4,157.

The increase in Spanish was even more significant, with entries rising 28 per cent from 1,880 last year to 2,413 this year. In German, the total increased from 1,006 in 2014 to 1,114. Pass rates were also up.

However, the number of Chinese language Higher entries dropped from 100 to 89. This was despite significant investment in this area and news that a further 21 Confucius Classrooms would be set up to teach Mandarin to primary pupils in Scotland, on top of the 14 that already exist. Funding for the extension of the programme will come from Hanban, a public institution affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education.

“I don’t think we are anywhere near addressing the decline in languages but it is a step in the right direction,” Ms Campbell-Thow said. While there was a mix of old and new Highers, “we don’t really have a firm grasp on how much impact the new qualifications are having on uptake,” she added.


Language study bounces back after a decade of decline

10 August 2015 (The Herald)

A long-term decline in the number of pupils studying languages at Higher appears to have been reversed.

New figures show most modern languages have seen an increase in entries in 2015 after years where numbers have fallen.

Statistics from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) show French has seen a 10 per cent increase with entries rising to 4,572.

Spanish continues a remarkable rise over the past decade with entries rising 28 per cent to 2413.


Insight: Why Scots face a language barrier

8 August 2015 (The Scotsman)

Our children’s lack of foreign language skills cry out for a shake-up in education policy, and yet constant upheaval in our schools may be one of the problems, writes Dani Garavelli.


Substantial rise in skills for life and work

5 August 2015 (Scottish Government)

43,911 qualifications specifically recognising skills for life and work have been gained this year – a rise of 18.3 per cent compared to last year. [..] With more relevant work-related learning for all young people at the heart of Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce, Scotland’s Youth Employment Strategy, key increases in attainment include:

  • Modern Languages for Life and Work SQA Award, has almost doubled at SCQF level 3 and 4 since 2014 with increases from 383 to 720 and 750 to 1,444 respectively


Results day for students

4 August 2015 (Scottish Government)

Students across Scotland achieved a record 156,000 Higher passes this year – up 5.5 per cent on 2014.

Results certificates have been sent to 142,862 candidates sitting a wide range of qualifications – including new Highers for the first year and Nationals for the second year; and existing Access, Intermediates, Highers and Advanced Highers.

Figures released by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) show attainment is again high this year, with Higher English passes up 17.7 per cent to 27,902, and Higher modern languages passes increasing by 15.2 per cent to 7,419.


Related Links

Record numbers of Scottish students pass higher exams (The Independent, 4 August 2015)

Questions over higher Scottish exam pass rate (The Telegraph, 4 August 2015)

Record Highers pass rate triggers concerns about Scottish qualification (The Guardian, 4 August 2015)

Call for Japanese language lessons in Scottish schools

4 July 2015 (The Herald)

Japan's top diplomat in Scotland has called for the introduction of Japanese language exams in Scottish schools.

Japanese Consul General Hajime Kitaoka believes there is a enough demand for the language and culture of his homeland to be taught alongside other modern languages.

Mr Kitaoka has approached the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and asked them to consider the introduction of Japanese qualifications - including a Higher.


Related Links

We should do what we can to boost our links with Japan (The Herald, 8 July 2015)

National Qualifications update for practitioners

18 June 2015 (SQA)

The latest SQA issue of updates on the new national qualifications is now available.


Advanced Higher Route Maps online

11 June 2015 (Education Scotland)

Assessment route maps providing key guidelines, advice and support for qualifications at Advanced Higher modern languages are now available on the Education Scotland website.


Talks to put Polish language on curriculum under way

30 March 2015 (The Herald)

For a decade the Polish language has been heard in the playgrounds of Scottish schools as thousands of children whose parents moved to Scotland with EU expansion settled in alongside Scots.

Until now there was no prospect of a formal route for young Poles to be able to take Polish language as part of the fourth and fifth year curriculum despite the research showing Polish is the language young Scots are most likely to hear in school other than English.

Talks are under way, however, to make the provision a reality for the first time.


Related Links

Herald View (The Herald, 30 March 2015)

Supporting Polish shows Scots are different (The Herald, 30 March 2015)

Polish language to be added to Scottish curriculum? (Radio Poland, 22 April 2015)

National 5 and New Higher revision guides

24 March 2015 (National Parent Forum of Scotland)

The National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) has published a series of New Higher Revision guides. These resources provide a clear, straightforward explanation of what learners need to know in order to prepare for the new Higher exams. For each subject, there are links taking you directly to specimen papers, exemplar question papers and sites where you can access other useful information. Please note that these resources are for the new Curriculum for Excellence Highers.  Guides for French, German and Spanish are available.

These NPFS National 5 Revision in a Nutshell subject guides supplement learning and revision in class. They are organised alphabetically, by subject, covering 20 subjects which have exams and for which the SQA has provided relevant past paper questions. Guides for French, German and Spanish are included.

All the guides can be accessed under the 'For Learners' section of the NPFS website.


SQA Modern Languages Update - January 2015

5 February 2015 (SQA)

The latest update from the SQA on the new Modern Languages qualifications focuses on the development of Advanced Higher, with information relevant to the subject and details of the support available to teaching professionals.

The update also details a series of implementation events for Advanced Higher Modern Languages taking place on the following dates:

  • Friday 20 February (Glasgow) 
  • Monday 23 February (Stirling) 
  • Wednesday 25 February (Edinburgh) 
  • Friday 27 February (Aberdeen)

There is a link within the document to register attendance.


Scots Language Award - Unit assessment support package 1

3 February 2015 (SQA)

SQA has published package 1 of Unit assessment support for the new Scots Language Award. Package 1 includes Unit assessment support packs for the Understanding and Communicating and History and Development Units at SCQF levels 4 and 5. The Unit assessment support packs are now available from our secure website, and teachers and lecturers can arrange access to them through their SQA Co-ordinator.

Package 2 will be available by the end of February 2015 and will include Unit assessment support packs for the Understanding and Communicating and History and Development Units at SCQF levels 3 and 6.

See the SQA website for more information.


Russian ambassador calls for exam U-turn on language Higher

26 January 2015 (The Herald)

Moves to scrap the Russian language Higher in Scotland's schools have been attacked by the Kremlin's most senior envoy to the United Kingdom.

Dr Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian Ambassador to Great Britain and Northern Ireland, urged ministers to protect the qualification, describing it as culturally significant and vital to our future economic competitiveness.

The intervention comes after the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) decided to axe Higher Russian after 2015 because too few pupils were sitting it.

However, figures published last summer show there was a 44 per cent increase in entries in 2014, with number rising from 36 to 52. Although the number is still relatively small, there are now more entries for Russian Higher than at any time since 1992.


Modern Languages common questions on SQA website

20 January 2015 (SQA)

An updated Modern Languages Common Questions document has been published on the SQA website today.

This can be accessed on the SQA website by selecting the Modern Languages common questions tab.


Questions for the Cabinet – new Highers

20 January 2015 (Scottish Parliament)

On Tuesday 3 February we will hold an evidence session with the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning. The focus of the meeting will be the new Highers.

We welcome your questions for the Cabinet Secretary on the new Highers or other topical issue relating to the Curriculum for Excellence. We would also welcome written submissions in relation to the new Highers.

Send your questions or written submissions to by 27 January.


SQA up-date

16 January 2015 (SQA)

Higher Exemplar Question Papers are now available on the SQA website for all languages other than German and Urdu reading, which will be published by the end of January.

On the SQA webpage, click on “Specimen and Exemplar Question Papers and Marking Instructions”.


SQA External Examiner's Higher Modern Languages reports 2014 - key messages

18 December 2014 (SCILT)

We have extracted and summarised the key messages from the SQA external examiner's reports for Higher Modern Languages 2014, which can be found on our website.


SQA N5 Modern Languages Course Reports 2014

9 December 2014 (SCILT/SQA)

SCILT has extracted and summarised key messages from the SQA N5 Modern Languages course reports for 2014.  These can be found in the attached document, which is also available on the Essentials for Planning in the Senior Phase section of our website.

This is a generic summary across all N5 Modern Languages.  The full reports can be accessed on the SQA website.


Community languages not supported in UK education system, survey suggests

28 November 2014 (The Guardian)

Despite the fact almost one in five young people have a first language other than English, research reveals their skills go unsupported and unrecognised by exam system.

Most young people in Britain whose native language is not English believe speaking a second language is an advantage in life. However only just over a third take a qualification in their mother tongue, according to a Guardian/ICM poll.


Related Links

Ten ways to support community languages in the UK (The Guardian, 2 December 2014)

Assessors deliver their verdict on National 5

7 November 2014 (TESS)

The reports, compiled by external assessors for the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), identify the main issues picked up by markers. The first batch of reports, published today, covers the 10 most popular subjects.

[..] There is also good news for French teachers, who are told to be “very encouraged” by the first year of National 5 – even though some pupils were “clearly not presented at the appropriate level”.


Modern Languages National 1 - Professional Focus Paper

22 October 2014 (Education Scotland)

Education Scotland has produced a comprehensive range of Professional Focus Papers to assist those supporting learners as they work towards the new qualifications and highlight important features of learning which are enhanced or different from previous arrangements.

The papers are available on the Education Scotland website where the document for Modern Languages National 1 can be downloaded.


Gaelic (Learners) Higher - Route map

8 August 2014 (Education Scotland)

The route map for Gaelic (Learners) Higher is now available on the Education Scotland website.

Route maps are a sequential list of the key guidelines, advice and support for qualifications at N4, N5 and Higher. They include important information about assessment, learning and teaching. These papers are for teachers and other staff who provide learning, teaching and support as learners work towards National 4, National 5 and Higher.


Related Links

The route map for Gàidhlig Higher is also available on the Education Scotland website (Education Scotland, 25 June 2014)

SQA Attainment Statistics - August 2014

5 August 2014 (SQA)

The Attainment Statistics (August) 2014 report in relation to SQA qualifications has now been published in Microsoft Excel format and can be viewed via the SQA website.


Related Links

Results for National courses and Awards 2014 (SQA, 5 August 2014)

Gàidhlig Higher - Route map

25 June 2014 (Education Scotland)

The route map for Gàidhlig Higher is now available on the Education Scotland website.  This paper is for teachers and other staff who provide learning, teaching and support as learners work towards Gàidhlig Higher.

This route map provides a link to Education Scotland’s support materials together with a number of other subject-specific links staff may find useful as they develop programmes of learning.


Curriculum for Excellence in a Nutshell series

9 June 2014 (NPFS)

NPFS have published some new resources for parents and learners in their Curriculum for Excellence in a Nutshell series: Progression in a Nutshell, Skills in a Nutshell, Higher English in a Nutshell and Higher Mathematics in a Nutshell. Launched at St Ambrose High School in North Lanarkshire, these will help parents and learners to understand how skills and knowledge gained throughout Curriculum for Excellence map onto qualifications and learning in school, college, university and the workplace.

Printed copies of these four nutshells were sent out to all secondary schools for each S3 -S5 pupil. If you haven't received your copy, ask in August.

A full series of Higher Nutshells will also be launched in August.


Related Links

See all the Nationals in a Nutshell documents - all subject areas listed alphabetically

Materials for new Higher languages

31 March 2014 (Education Scotland/SQA)

Materials have been published on Education Scotland's GLOW site for the new Higher languages exams.  You will need a GLOW userid and password to access the materials.

Higher specimen question papers and the second Unit Assessment Support Pack for Higher have also been published by the SQA.  Specimen papers are available on SQA website and UASPs on SQA secure site.


SQA Update - Round 3 Verification Gàidhlig and Modern Languages

13 March 2014 (SQA)

For the attention of teachers with responsibility for National Courses at National 3/4/5 Gàidhlig and Modern Languages.

Following the update to SQA Coordinators on 07/03/14 Verification Round 3 Selections we would like to provide additional clarification in relation to National Courses in Gàidhlig and Modern Languages.

See the SQA website for details.


Route maps through assessment

5 March 2014 (Education Scotland/SQA)

Minister for Learning, Dr Alasdair Allan recently put in place a package of support for secondary schools to help deliver the new National Qualifications. This support included new route maps through Assessment and these are now being published on the Education Scotland website.

Developed by Education Scotland, in partnership with the SQA, these provide sequenced list of main messages and links for National 4 and National 5. These guides will provide reassurance of the key documents and the sequence they should be used in. This can help teachers to reflect on their approaches this year, ensure they’ve done all they need to do and prepare for next year. They are step by step guides and will help practitioners ensure they have referred to the key guidelines and advice for learning, teaching and assessment in the new qualifications. The route maps are being developed for all subjects for the new National Qualifications. They will also be developed for the new Higher courses and these will be available from the start of the new session.


SQA Verification process is changing!

27 February 2014 (SCILT/SQA)

Are you aware of the latest changes to the SQA Verification process which will take place with immediate effect? The main changes are highlighted below:

  • “The third round (of verification), due to start in April, will now focus on verifying the Added Value Unit assessment and the internally assessed components of Course assessment, with a greater emphasis on subjects where there has been most change.”
  • “For the 2014/15 academic session, the approach to verification will involve supporting and strengthening teachers’ experience in applying standards. The first round of the quality assurance system will involve the delivery of understanding standards events using exemplar materials. There will also be more targeted quality assurance activity of Unit and Course assessments, with the second round focusing on Unit assessment and the third round focusing on Course assessment.”

Further information and details can be found on the SQA website.


Course comparison documents for new Higher courses

25 February 2014 (SQA)

SQA has published tables which outline some of the changes for each of the new Higher Courses in comparison with the existing Higher Courses. This is intended to help teachers/lecturers identify what is changing, and what will remain the same, within their subject.

The information in these tables is not exhaustive, but provides links to more detailed subject documentation that can be accessed from the SQA's subject pages.

Course comparison documents can be found on the 'Related Information' panel on each of the subject pages on the SQA website.  See the panel on the Modern Languages subject pages.


Urdu teaching materials for National 4 and 5

12 February 2014 (Education Scotland)

Education Scotland has new Urdu teaching materials for National 4 and National 5 available on GLOW.  You will need a GLOW userid and password to access these resources.


SQA Principal Assessor Reports 2013 - key messages

31 January 2014 (SCILT/SQA)

We have begun extracting the key messages from the 2013 SQA Principal Assessor reports and reports for French and German 2013 exams are now on our website with data for Chinese, Spanish and Italian to follow shortly. 

Practitioners may find these condensed versions useful for sharing information with colleagues and learners and could be used as part of your quality assurance to inform your improvement agenda.


SCHOLAR – Modern Languages Events

12 January 2013 (Glow Scotland)

Glow TV is delighted to offer Higher Students the opportunity to join sessions on Modern Languages provided by SCHOLAR on Tuesday 14th January. These sessions will be presented by Douglas Angus, SCHOLAR Online Tutor for Modern Languages.

There will also be an opportunity for students to participate in a Q&A session at the end of the session.

Higher students: Prepare for Speaking Test – 7.15pm

Advanced Higher students: How to prepare for External Examiner – 8.15pm


Summary of National 3, 4, 5 and Higher Qualifications

10 January 2014 (SCILT/SQA)

We have produced an at-a-glance summary of the National 3, 4, 5 and Higher Qualifications for languages in a table format.

The document can be downloaded below, or found on the Senior Phase section of our website.


SQA Frequently Asked Questions - update

12 November 2013 (SCILT/SQA)

In September we compiled and published a list of questions we have been frequently asked at Outreach events regarding the New Qualifications and worked in partnership with SQA to answer these questions.

The SQA have now requested the following amendments to the Q&A document, which are highlighted in bold text:

Section B

How many contexts must be covered at National 4?
A minimum of two of the four contexts of Society, Learning, Employability and Culture, must be covered at National 4 (this previously indicated all four contexts).

Section D

How many contexts must be covered at National 5?
All four contexts of Society, Learning, Employability and Culture, must be covered in order to prepare candidates for the Course Assessment where all 4 contexts are represented across Reading and Listening assessments.

You can see the full list of FAQs on the Senior Phase section of our website.


New Qualifications Update – October 2013

31 October 2013 (SQA)

The latest update from the SQA on the new qualifications is now available. The following updates will be of particular interest to language practitioners:

  • Updated Unit assessment support for National 3 to National 5 Modern Languages 
  • Case Studies on new Awards – Modern Languages for Life and Work


SQA Frequently Asked Questions

26 September 2013 (SCILT/SQA)

We have compiled a list of questions we have been frequently asked at Outreach events regarding the New Qualifications. We have worked in partnerships with SQA to answer these questions as fully as we can.

Download the attached document.

Related Files

NAR Gaelic exemplars

9 September 2013 (Education Scotland)

Over the past few weeks, Education Scotland has published a number of new assessment and moderation exemplars, produced by practitioners, on the National Assessment Resource. This includes examples of innovative assessment practice in Gaelic in both primary and secondary sectors. The Gaelic exemplars may also be of interest to teachers of Modern Languages looking for creative ways to assess the broad general education. 

Access the materials  (you will need your Glow username and password)


Results for National Courses and Awards 2013

6 August 2013 (SQA)

The Scottish Qualifications Authority today announces details of the results for National Courses and Awards 2013.

There was an increase in the pass rate for the Scottish Baccalaureate – 85.9% (+6.7). The percentage point difference from 2012 is indicated in brackets.

The number of candidates sitting Chinese languages across all levels (from Access to Advanced Higher) continues to rise, up 36.3 per cent since 2010. Courses in Mandarin (Simplified) are the most popular and are usually taken by learners from a non-heritage background.

Download the attached pdf for a full summary of the 2013 performance across SQA courses in Modern Languages.


Related Files

Signing should be classed as foreign language for GCSE

17 June 2013 (BBC News)

(Applies to England) Ministers are facing calls to make British Sign Language count as a modern foreign language at GCSE level. A modern language is defined in England as one that can be spoken or written - so BSL cannot qualify at the moment.  But deaf awareness charity Signature points out that sign language is included on the education curriculum in Sweden, Norway and Finland.


New National Qualifications - April 2013 Update

30 April 2013 (SQA)

The SQA’s latest update on the new national qualifications is now available, including finalised documents for the new Advanced Higher Courses commencing in August 2015.


New National Qualifications - March 2013 Update

28 March 2013 (SQA)

The SQA has issued its latest update on the new national qualifications including the second release of National 4 Added Value Unit assessments and coursework information for non-question-paper components of the National 5 Course assessment.  Draft Course/Unit Support Notes for the new Advanced Higher Courses are now also available.


New National Qualifications – November 2012 update

30 November 2012 (SQA)

The latest progress on the new national qualifications from the SQA, including a reminder of the CfE subject implementation dates being run throughout Scotland. Modern Language events are taking place in February 2013 and places can be booked via the SQA website.


New qualifications – October update

31 October 2012 (SQA)

Visit the SQA website for the latest information and advice on the new qualifications.


Related Links

Modern language teachers will be particularly interested to review the Advanced Higher Modern Languages draft unit specifications via the SQA's Advanced Higher Modern Languages webpage.

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