Category: SQA

Rector Update & Letter from the Head of Education

Dear Parent/Carer,


I hope you are all safe and well.  Please find attached to this update a letter from Maria Lloyd, Head of Education with further information about SQA and how national qualifications are to be awarded this year.  As ever any questions or concerns do not hesitate to get in touch.

SQA estimates letter to parents 5 May


Teams Update

Thank you to all the parents who have supported us to get their young people set up in Teams to move our learning forward.  A number still have to go online and enter the appropriate code to allow access to learning.  Please try to ensure your child has done so by the end of the week so that there are no gaps in learning, as all programmes will be progressing as planned.

Next steps for Teams will be for us to use an analytical tool built into the system to monitor levels of pupil engagement, to track whether or not pupils are logging in to view materials, upload work and communicate with teachers.  We will feed back to you if we feel there are any issues and plan what we can do to support.

Please note that the timetable has not moved on as such, plans for this are in line with previous years and individual pupil timetables will be issued early June as normal.



There will be no further reporting to parents for the remainder of the Session.  One of the clear advantages of us moving as a school to regular and succinct tracking reports throughout the year is that young people all received reports in Term 3 and therefore we will resume tracking of progress next Session.


PE Choice – S3

Thank you to young people for completing the Teams quiz and sharing choices for the S3 PE curriculum.  Obviously, as with all learning this term and next, participation will be dependent on the recovery plan set out by the Scottish Government and Fife Council with regards to our return to school.  Further information on this will follow as and when we hear more.


Bell Baxter Parent Council

We had a lovely meeting Monday evening with some members of the Parent Council – was great to see everyone, albeit remotely!  A key part of the discussion was thinking about delivery models for remote learning.  We had already established a working group within the school to consider this and pilot models however we would like to tap into any expertise/interest from parents out there.

If you would be interested in linking with the group, please email Karen Brown, the Chair of the Parent Council on


P7 Transition

Sadly our transition programmes have been pretty much wiped out as a result of COVID.  However, we are working on a number of things behind the scenes to try to plan various ways of connecting with our primary 7s.  Further information to follow on this soon.


Awards Ceremonies

We are in the same position as above with awards ceremonies.  Again we are thinking creatively around this and will be sharing more in the next few weeks in terms of how we plan to conduct these extremely important celebrations of our young people’s hard work and achievements.


Guidance Contact

The Guidance Team are working through each of the young people in their year groups to make contact and check in with you all.  With between 250 – 300 young people per year this is a huge undertaking but well worth it.  They have now spoken to approximately 50% of their year groups each and will be continuing to work on speaking to you all over the coming days and weeks.  If you have any worries at all however please do not wait for them to call.  You can email each of them directly on the following emails:







I think that is everything!  As ever stay in touch and we will do our best to help you in this difficult time.

Best wishes


Carol Ann


Carol Ann Penrose


Bell Baxter High School
Carslogie Road
KY15 4HY
Tel. 01334 659459
Twitter @BellBaxter_HS
Facebook @BellbaxterHS

SQA Update – 21st April, 2020

Message from Maria Lloyd – Head of Education at Fife Council

The SQA provided a further update today on how schools will determine estimate grades, bands and rank order to be submitted to SQA to allow them to make awarding decisions this year:

Across all of our schools, we are working to ensure that our young people get recognition for their hard work and receive the qualifications they deserve. The SQA have asked us to subdivide each existing band, place learners within these band categories and then to rank order their learners within each estimated grade. The estimated grades submitted to SQA will then allow them to use this information along with, where available, prior attainment to ascertain whether a centre’s estimates this session are consistent with outcomes in previous years.  All of this information will be used by the SQA to finalise the award outcomes. The SQA will continue to support us in this process through online advice and our teachers will be able access this.

Be assured that our teachers have worked with our young people for a significant period of time and have a range of evidence to draw on, in order to make an accurate professional judgement of what they are capable of achieving. This analysis will allow teachers, departments and schools to arrive at an estimated grade which best reflects the work and the progress your child has made and therefore makes a best estimate of how they might have performed if they had completed coursework or folio and final exam.

To further support teachers and departments across schools, Fife has produced quality assurance materials and provided all necessary data to support our staff in making these estimates.

I again ask you for your continued cooperation and support in this process and not to contact schools for these estimates.

The SQA have also committed to further support through the post results service, which this year will be an appeal process.  Results will still be issued to young people by 4 August. We continue to strongly encourage all young people to sign-up to MySQA, the online and text service, as a direct way to receive their results. Further information is available for learners, parents and carers in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the website.

While I accept that this whole process is very different to the normal exam diet, I am confident that by working in close partnership with SQA and across schools, the hard work of Fife’s young people will be properly recognised and accredited.

SQA Update – 3rd April, 2020

Message from Maria Lloyd, Head of Education – Secondary – 3rd April, 2020

SQA provided an update on Thursday 2nd April, on arrangements for young people completing courses in Session 2019/20. This link also includes Guidance for learners, parents and carers.

We will be providing you with more information following the next update from SQA on 20th April.

Please be reassured that we have until 29th May to submit estimates for our young people completing National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications and until 22nd May to submit results for National 2, 3 and 4 courses and freestanding units for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher.

We have already been discussing our processes and procedures with our Secondary Headteachers to ensure we get the best possible outcomes for all of our young people. The extension to deadlines for estimates and results is welcomed as it will allow us to continue these discussions with all subject teachers in the coming months.

Across all of our schools, we are working together to ensure that our young people get recognition for their hard work and receive the qualifications they deserve.

SQA FAQs – 30th March, 2020

27 March

Dear Pupils, Parents and Carers,

We appreciate that this is a very difficult time for you. We have collated details of the most common questions we are being asked just now which we hope is in some way helpful. As soon as the SQA release the ‘alternative certification model’ we will share it with you. At this moment in time we don’t know any more than you do and therefore share your frustration.

Please appreciate that the detail of the information below could change in-line with new SQA guidance but is correct at this date.


Will my achievements this year be recognised?

Yes. Pupil achievements in all courses will be recognised this year. The SQA will ask teachers to provide an estimate grade for each pupil in each course. The estimate must be based on evidence but will include all pupil achievements throughout the year and not only summative and prelim results. The SQA will also look at other information, including prior attainment, where appropriate e.g. achievement in National 5 if being presented for Higher this year. Estimates will not be sent to SQA until towards the end of April. Estimates are still being provisionally agreed by teachers and PTCs based on the factors mentioned above.


What happens if a pupil did not complete the coursework for a subject?

The latest SQA advice, issued on Tuesday 24 March, stated that schools are now not required to submit coursework for marking in Higher or Advanced Higher courses.

For National 5, most of the coursework has already been submitted to SQA. However, the SQA have now confirmed that coursework which was due to be picked up from school for marking in April and May will not now be collected.


Can a pupil still complete and submit coursework to the SQA online with their teacher?

No. Every course is unique, with different course arrangements. The reason that coursework cannot be completed and submitted to the SQA online is that it will not be accepted by the SQA and, for some subjects, coursework must be completed under exam conditions – timed, without notes, and in full view of a teacher. We therefore cannot have a ‘one size fits all’ approach to coursework which is one of the reasons why the SQA have decided that schools cannot submit work online this year.


Why should a pupil continue to complete online tasks set by a teacher when the school cannot submit any work to the SQA for marking?

We are currently awaiting more information from the SQA about estimation of grades and fuller details of the SQA’s approach to certification this year. We will update families and pupils once we know more. The SQA have advised us that teachers may, however consider pupil work as part of the ‘body of evidence’ they use to decide on estimate grades. Therefore, teachers will continue to work with pupils online to ensure we have as much information as possible when deciding on estimate grades. It is therefore vital pupils keep working!

It is also important that pupils continue to engage with teachers online because that will allow them to develop the knowledge and skills needed to progress to the next level in that subject.

This also applies if a pupil is currently in S6 and preparing for college, university or an apprenticeship etc. If a pupil does not continue to work online, when they are able to do so, then not only will a teacher have less evidence to work with when completing estimate grades, but pupils also risk being ill-prepared for continuing with academic study, or work after the summer. We recognise, of course, the importance of ensuring that pupils who are unwell, or who do not have effective access to IT, are not disadvantaged, and we will work with the SQA to ensure this is not the case.


Will I receive certification for achievements this year?

Yes. The SQA have explained that that results will be issued no later than 4 August, as planned. The SQA are also encouraging pupils to sign up online for MySQA.


How do teachers decide on an estimate grade?

An estimate grade is normally based on several different factors including how the pupil performed in any formal assessments/prelims. Also, performance in any coursework, practical or performance elements and a teacher’s professional judgement of progress, based on evidence produced throughout the year.

This year we know these estimate grades matter more than ever. For this reason, once we have more information from the SQA, we will work with all teachers to make sure that estimates are a good representation of pupil performance.


Does a disappointing prelim grade automatically mean a poor estimate grade?

No. In many cases a prelim does not provide ‘full’ evidence of a pupil’s likely performance in the final exam. This might be because the prelim only tested a portion of the whole course, or it has been improved on by other exam practice after the prelim, or there is other coursework that is not included in a prelim grade. We know that there is often an improvement in performance between prelims and a final exam and we will also take this into account where appropriate.


Can a teacher tell a pupil what their estimate grade is, or what grade they will be awarded by the SQA?

No. We are still waiting on more information from the SQA about estimation of grades and fuller details of the SQA’s approach to certification this year. We will update you further once we know more.

We know that grades will be based on coursework (where this has already been submitted), teacher estimate grades and prior SQA attainment from previous years (where appropriate). We normally submit estimate grades towards the end of April and, in the same way as other years, teachers cannot know what a pupil will be awarded for a course and will not know until Tuesday 4 August when pupils receive certificates.

Estimates provided by the school will form only one part of the process. It is the SQA who will make the final decision and not the school. Please do not contact teachers directly about your estimated grades. They will not be able to tell you what they are.


A pupil has produced work at home – can that contribute to the estimate grade?

Yes. As mentioned above, pupils should continue to work with teachers online to ensure that teachers have strong information to support their finalisation of estimate grades. However, our main aim is to be fair to everyone, so because of the current challenge’s families face, we cannot expect all pupils to complete all tasks teachers set. Although every pupil who can should do their best to complete tasks set by teachers. Pupils should not worry if they cannot complete tasks due to factors out with their control. No pupil will be disadvantaged.


Other areas of concern that that we have been asked about:

What about UCAS applications?

UCAS have provided a statement on their website stating that the grades pupils receive will be as valid as those in previous years, and that there is no reason for the usual admissions cycle to be disrupted. Universities UK has confirmed that institutions will be flexible and do all they can to support pupils to progress to higher education. Remember all young people in the country are in the same position.


Will a teacher’s estimated grade be the same as a pupil’s UCAS predicted grade?

No. Predicted grades were provided in November, and were based on teacher judgement at that point. Estimated grades will be based on much more robust knowledge of pupil progress in courses and might differ from grades provided at the time of UCAS applications.


Can pupils still apply for courses out with school e.g. full-time college courses?

Yes. Fife College and all other providers of courses out with school are currently closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, Fife College staff are continuing to work remotely and will continue to process all applications.


Will Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs) continue when the school is closed?

EMA payments will continue. It is assumed that pupils are accessing learning online via GLOW and Microsoft TEAMs or other appropriate digital platform.

What if a pupil needs support with what to do next? How can they still get help with this?

We remain committed to supporting our leavers into a positive destination and will do all we can to continue to offer our support during these uncertain times. If a pupil has any questions then they should contact their Guidance teacher directly.


What if pupils or parents have any more questions?

Pupils and parents should contact the relevant Guidance Principal Teacher via e-mail in the first instance. All communication is welcome.