Qualification for FE College Evening Course

  • Andy Diament

    To cut a long story short –

    I sold up and moved from Cornwall to Scotland and offered myself to my local FE College. My experience includes school, FE college and HE level teaching of Computing, IT, physics, science, vocational and academic course.

    We discussed a beginners course in python, aimed at adults and possibly interested school age students. Suggested length about 10 weeks, 2 h per week

    I was then asked to investigate if a suitable SQA qualification could be attached. At which point I dove into the SQA qualifications and got lost, with no-one yet able to tell me if I should be looking at CFE or legacy quals or both, let alone issues of quality/assignment briefs/internal or external verification. You know, I can’t even say yet if I’ve posted this in the right place

    So the questions are –

    * Could this qualification be suitable:

    Computing Science National 4 – Unit – Software Design and Development (National 4) (CFE)

    * or this

    SCQF Level 4 Computing: Programming in a High-level language: Fundamentals (legacy? Is it even still available for new students)

    * or can anyone suggest anything else in the framework that might be more suitable?

    I would be very grateful for any assistance, or suggestions of contacts who might be better placed to advise me. And I’m still waiting for SQA to come back to me.

    Thank you very much



    Hi Andy

    I am not familiar with Python yet but I would suggest it is way beyond National 4 level. More likely to be National 5 or Higher. I have not heard of the second option you posted which suggests it is either very old or very new. I think the former. You could contact CAS Scotland for advice or look at the National 5 and Higher coursework tasks or exams to get a feel for the level it should be pitched at. It is difficult to tell without seeing your intended content.

    Andy Diament

    Thanks @Speirs, I might have meant National 5, but suspect the content is too broad for the time I am likely to have rather than the level

    I raised this on the UK National CAS forum but had no joy; i understood that CompEdNet is effectively the CAS forum for Scotland


    Peter W Donaldson

    Hi Andy,

    @spiers is right that it’s difficult to recommend a particular unit without more detail on what you plan to teach them and what you expect them to be able to do after the course.

    Python could be used for a SCQF level 4 unit but I would imagine that only a subset of it would be taught and you wouldn’t expect them to write well structured modular or Object Orientated code at the end of the course.

    With only 20 hours of instructor time the Software Design and Development unit at SCQF level 4 from the NQ Computing Science qualification would have to be compressed too much. As a guide the number of SCQF credit points gives an indication of how much learning time is required to achieve the unit with 1 credit equal to 10 notional hours of learning effort. SDD is a 9 credit unit so an average learner would require 90 hours of learning effort to master the skills and knowledge required. Learning effort doesn’t mean teaching time but realistically will the people on the course spend 70 hours outwith the class?

    It would probably be better to aim for a unit that makes up one of the vocational awards. All course specifications for all SCQF levels are listed here and the course spec gives the unit codes that make up the award.

    As you’ve identified, Programming in a High-level language: Fundamentals is possibly a better fit for what you’d like to do but I would contact Bobby Elliot or post a comment on the blog the SQA vocational Computing team run to see if any other unit would be a better fit.

    The whole of Compednet isn’t CAS Scotland specific as there are Computing teachers who use it but aren’t members of CAS Scotland. Instead we have a members only CAS Scotland specific group and forum we use for anything related to collectively trying to raise the profile of Computing in Scotland. Day to day teaching issues tend to get posted in the subject specific forums.

    CAS Scotland is entirely volunteer run with specific funding only given for particular work such as the PLAN C network. We get a bit of money from BCS towards the conference and to cover travelling and meeting expenses but that’s it. Every committee and working member is a volunteer and almost all of us teach full time. In CAS they say there is no them there’s only us but as we don’t even have a paid coordinator position that really is true in Scotland. Things get done if, and when, people are willing and have time to dedicate to make them happen but it’s always under an assumption of if I’m able to and it doesn’t have a negative impact on the job I’m paid to do.

    Marc McWhirter

    @Speirs I use Python to teach National 4 SDD and it has worked well for me at that level. I’ve done it for three years now and never had an issue.

    Andy Diament

    Thank you, this is the first piece of useful advice I have received.

    On GLH – I don’t want to deliver a qual where all my focus is on ticking off the list of assessment items with teaching time very much less than GLH. I’ll look at the voc awards again. I will have to assume that the quals listed on your link are available for now

    I’ll have to chase Mr Elliott as my query was passed to him over 3 weeks ago.

    I appreciate the time you have spend answering this; thank you again


    Andy Diament

    That is useful; on rereading the content, I thought it might be better aimed at the scratch/appinventor type of tool. I think I may be aiming for level 5, rather than 4



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