I posted my question to Greg Reid through his SQA account and he has given me a reply to clear up any doubt folk may still have. Here is his reply:
“Andy, you are correct in your memory of the recent understanding standards event in Glasgow. The position of SQA is that SQA Reference Language is a fully functioning programming language. We will only use it within software design & development exam paper questions where we are asking candidates to read and explain code.
As SQARL is a fully functioning programming language its not appropriate to use it as pseudocode during design.
There will never be a requirement for candidates to write SQARL at any point. However, if candidates answer a code writing exam paper question (which starts “using a programming language of your choice”) using SQARL it will be regarded as code, just like any other language (Python, VB etc)
Finally, should candidates write SQARL in an exam paper, SDD design question, markers will be instructed to be very lenient and not immediately dismiss the answer as code. That would not be in the spirit of exam marking where we aim to credit candidates if they demonstrate an understanding of the problem.
Hope that helps clarify things.