H Choral Shield – How many supporting each house?

  • Nicky Pasternak

    Having set up a query to do this I found the answers
    Alpha 25, Beta 28, Delta 18 and Gamma 32

    Several pupil efforts came in with the following:
    Alpha 68, Beta 71, Delta 70 and Gamma 91

    I was puzzled but after investigation found that if the Customer ID from the Orders table is used then the top set of figures results (Only using customers placing Friday orders)

    However, if the Customer ID from the Customer table is used then all 300 customers are checked, hence the difference in answers.

    Given that the task only says “How many people are supporting each house?” then I intend to accept both of these as acceptable answers.

    Anyone else come across this?

    David Muir

    We asked the SQA about this. It was acknowledged that the “specification” was ambiguous and that either answer would have to be accepted but their intention was for a count of the Friday data rather than the whole of the customer table.

    Ian Loney

    My class came up with 2 different answers. The one I liked best had higher numbers for each house, in the hundreds. This is because they made the assumption that if the customer supports a house and orders say 5 tickets, his or her 4 pals will also support the same house. It would be reasonable to assume this at say a football game. We only included Friday sales as that’s what the database was to analyse.
    It’s also a more challenging query to create at higher level, I think…
    Hope that helps!


    The answer for the supporting each house report is the one with the results as follows:
    Use the count function and not the sum. It’s to do with what house the person purchasing the tickets supports, and not to do with how many tickets they have purchased. Also this only uses Friday Sales as the task states.

    David Muir

    Hello Lynda

    Certainly ONE answer is 25, 28, 18 and 32. The task, however, does not state that it is Friday sales only. That is why the alternative numbers Nicky’s class came up with has to be accepted.

    Hello Ian

    Multiplying by the number of tickets sold is a bit more of an unusual interpretation. I just read the specification again, and it is sufficiently ambiguous that you MIGHT be able to justify that approach but I am not sure I would bet my pupil’s marks on it! {UPDATE: The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that Ian’s pupils can justify their take on the problem. If any of my pupils had proposed that solution, I would now be happy to argue with verifiers/SQA on their behalf.}

    Hello Everyone

    The problem is, we are trying to guess what the examiner wants us to do because the task has been poorly defined. I suppose this is a real world issue and could be a teachable moment about the difficulty of precisely defining specifications: we always have to make assumptions and/or seek clarification.

    Mrs Janet McDonald

    Our pupils also interpreted this query in different ways (I think that, between them, they came up with most of the options given here). When I looked at the query that you actually needed to create to come up with each of their solutions, they were much the same in terms of level of difficulty. That being the case, we have accepted all their interpretations. However, since, whichever interpretation they have gone for they have made an assumption that their interpretation is the correct one, I will be looking at the “assumptions” section of their analysis and would expect them to discuss the assumption they had made in terms of this query at that point. If they’ve done that I’d be more than happy to have an argument with any verifier who then said that they should be docked marks because their interpretation was wrong!

    Enrico Vanni

    You gotta love how apparent it is that these tasks went through scrupulous quality control. 😀 😉


    It’s not like it’s the future of our young people at stake and the development of one of the most productive and growing business sectors in the world…. Yeah, let’s just wing it!


    I think you’d be harsh to be penalising pupils who don’t have anything in the assumptions section regarding this specific report.
    The task is open to interpretation and full credit should be given to pupils who produce with either the Alpha 25 etc. or Alpha 68 etc. solutions.

    Enrico Vanni

    I can understand why Janet has suggested the approach of having the pupil state their interpretation as an assumption in order to ‘cover her back’ in accepting two different correct answers in the event that someone verifies her sample and spots an inconsistency, but I agree that it is unfair to penalise a candidate for taking the Instructions for Candidates at face value and producing a ‘correct’ answer but not spotting that there was an alternative ‘correct’ answer and stating why they went for one and not the other. It is an equally correct assumption that one correct answer is enough?!

    I am though getting to the point that I am telling students to mistrust SQA tasks and be prepared for errors and inconsistencies

    There is obviously an issue with quality control of key documentation coming out from SQA for our subject, and you have to wonder if the focus is on the wrong priorities. Getting documentation out at fixed times and being satisfied that an administrative process has been followed matters less than ensuring that the documentation is wholly fit for purpose, whenever it is issued.

    Guidance coming out from SQA verification events is that they ask that centres use the latest versions of assessment documentation. My response to that is why so early on in the lifetime of these courses have the documents had to be revised so many times already?!?

    All I want to see is some professionalism and consistency where it actually matters. Too much to ask for?

    Nicky Pasternak

    Interesting responses which show:
    a. The level of commitment and professionalism of our subject specialists out in the field who are working tirelessly to make our subject the success that it deserves to be.

    b. The dissatisfaction with the quality control of material and the lack of honest and effective communication from the SQA.

    Our comments made in this excellent forum are a source of comfort and support to us all but are we all making our feelings clear at school, local authority, union and SQA level? A concerted effort is required to sort this out.

    Anyway! back to Choral Shield.

    A pupil makes no assumptions for either part of the task and states this in their analysis. Full marks. Why not?


    Totally agree Nicky.

    I had an email correspondence with Raymond SImpson at the SQA a few days ago regarding issues with the games review N5 coursework. I eventually emailed him the following as I was so frustrated. I’m not one to normally write this sort of email but I was, and still am so disillusioned with how there seems to be so little consideration for the young people that are at the heart of this equation.

    No one at the SQA really cares do they? I mean REALLY cares about what an impact this has on pupils and their results? People care about negative press stories or being pulled up by MSP’s but not about the students all over Scotland who are going to lose out because 4 or 5 years in we’re still not getting this right.

    I am so frustrated and disappointed Raymond! I have written to Janet Brown about the issues in CS, I have flagged it up at numerous events over the years, I have written, with other independent schools as a body and this was sent from my head teacher to the SQA. I have spoken to Dr Gill Stewart about the issues in CS at an SQA Co-ordinators event. She said she would get Alastair Mcgregor to call me to discuss the issues. I had to chase Gill Stewart about this, I then had to chase Alastair Mcgregor to talk to him and eventually after phoning him (remember I was told he would phone me) a number of times over a number of weeks I eventually had to tweet him to get a response! When I talked to him it was more of the same, basically we’re doing what we can but things take time. Well I’ve heard that for 5 years now and it’s wearing very thin.

    Really, what are we in this job for? To help young people and to bring on the next generation of computer scientists in Scotland. I, like most CS teachers, could walk into a much higher paid, less stressful job without issue. Why do we not do that? Because we care about young people and the future of CS in Scotland. It’s hard to say and I do not like saying it but I struggle to see the same level of interest from the SQA. It’s not right and it’s not fair! It should not be swept under the carpet or accepted but what more can I/we do? I find it very hard to believe that the SQA would not be heavily criticised if the shambles that is the implementation of CfE CS ever became public.


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