Category Archives: National Qualifications

Getting ready for the National Qualifications – a learner’s perspective

In the run-up to this year’s NQ exams we asked some young people how they are preparing for them and some parents how they are supporting their children through them. Over the next few weeks we’ll share their thoughts with you via this Learning Blog.

‘How am I preparing for my exams?

‘I am in S4 and this is the first year that I have had to cope with preparing for exams and up until now I have been trying to keep up with the course work and units which seem to have all come at the same time.

Now I am starting to revise for the actual exams.  Some of my teachers are running supported study classes after school.  This is good as it lets me ask the teacher some of the stuff I have not quite picked up yet.  I am studying at home but I still need to fit in all of my other activities – football training, table tennis and playing the X-box.  Doing these other things takes my mind off too much studying.  At times my head feels as if it will burst.  A set of drums might help!

I am going away at Easter and I will be taking as many books as I can carry.  I will have to find time before going out to study.  I want to practice with the specimen papers and questions, and look over my course notes.  For some subjects, the books and notes are better than the question papers.  I still have time when I come back.

I am not stressed one little bit but even if I was taking a penalty in the World Cup I wouldn’t be stressed.’

S4 pupil

(Take a look at the Parentzone website which has information and advice for parents and carers who have children sitting exams in the coming weeks. )

Getting ready for the National Qualifications – a parent’s perspective

In the run-up to this year’s NQ exams we asked some young people how they are preparing for them and some parents how they are supporting their children through them. Over the next few weeks we’ll share their thoughts with you via this Learning Blog.

‘Motivating a National 4/5 boy and a Higher girl has thrown up two different sets of problems. The boy, typical of his age, has better things to do. The girl motivated, determined, single-minded, all these things apply, as well as studying has a part time job and believe it or not has a boyfriend, whom she makes study with her.

Leading the boy and persuading him to work has been at times a trial. I have had to side with him in his attitude and make him believe I was just the same and how much more difficult it was to get on in life, to a certain extent true. The biggest mistake was to compare him with his sister, he totally rebelled. The answer was to become his buddy and slowly it is starting to work and I hope to get a pleasant surprise when the brown envelope comes in.

The girl doing Highers is very motivated but has had the occasional confidence drop off. ‘I never get an A’, she says. Then we do a mock exam and in comes a good result. At Parents night she tells her Physics teacher I am no good at this subject and has to be reminded she got top marks in Standard Grade and is leading the class in all the results so far. The point I make is she is smart but the confidence drops off very easily at times and needs boosted, lots of dairy milk chocolate does it. I have had to provide Chemistry tuition at home for her, as during the first term there was no teacher and a lot of the basics had been missing for Higher. This did not help her confidence but we have turned it around.

The key to dealing with both of them is support, support and remembering they are kids.’

Parent (National 4/5 boy and Higher girl)

(Take a look at the Parentzone website which has information and advice for parents and carers who have children sitting exams in the coming weeks. )

Free Online Study Resources for N4/5 Physics

Flash Learning is pleased to announce free online access to Virtual National 4 Physics and Virtual National 5 Physics until July 2014.

Our software to support National 4 and 5 Physics has been very well received and is now in use in approximately two thirds of Scottish schools. We have developed an enhanced version of the material and this is available online at

All Scottish pupils (and teachers) are invited to register online. Click on the Join Now button and you will be asked to supply a username, password and email address.

This online, enhanced version of the software includes topic quizzes and progress checks. There is also a forum (one for each course) and this will be available for a trial period . Please note that the website uses advanced web design technology and is best viewed with a modern web browser.

Pupils need to provide an email address when they register and we undertake not to do anything with this, other than to send one mail in August, inviting them to subscribe to the next physics course they may be taking.

Route Maps through Assessment in the Sciences


Route maps through assessment

The Minister for Learning, Dr Alasdair Allan, recently put in place a package of support to help secondary schools to deliver the new National Qualifications. This support included new route maps through assessment and these have now been published on the Education Scotland website. Developed by Education Scotland, in partnership with the SQA, these provide a sequenced list of main messages and links for National 4 and National 5 Sciences.

Past Paper Guidance for N5 sciences and assessment tracking support

Science Resources for the Nationals

Following the SQA/ Education Scotland joint publication of Past Paper Guidance for N5. Education Scotland has published copies of the identified questions on Sciences Glow 365 site, in the N5 folders for each subject. This compliments the previously shared N5 Biology questions. Further support materials for N5 will be published in the near future.

Shared on the Sciences Glow 365 site new class spreadsheets for tracking assessment standard passes at National 4 and an updated version for National 5. Look in the N4 and N5 folders in your subject.

March NQ Science Update

Nominations for the next three rounds of cross authority working groups are due by 5pm on Monday 10th of March. If you’re interested in attending please contact your local authority organiser.

Glow TV events:

Ask the Expert – Neil Kermode      11 March 10.30

As part of the Get Energised with the ScottishPower Foundation project, this series of broadcasts from the National Museum of Scotland will help N4/5 students in STEM subjects to learn more about renewables in Scotland. Hear from leading experts in the field and ask them about their work. 

Past papers identified by Education Scotland and SQA as appropriate for N5 Biology have been collated and shared by Invergordon Academy. These are posted on the Sciences Glow 365 site.

Geneious software suitable for case studies, a free download suitable for case studies in the Genome key area of DNA and the Genome unit at cfe Higher Biology is available from.

A free online Environmental Studies textbook, Earth’s Dynamic Systems is available at particularly good for Geosphere, Hydrosphere etc.

 Dave Edwards from the Open University asked Education Scotland to publicise this MOOC.

The OU’s free Moons MOOC is at;  and I am gearing up to facilitate some of the discussion.  It starts on 17 March.

We envisage it taking around 3 hours per week, for the eight week presentation.

Aberdeen Biodiversity Centre have a S1-3 poster competition running currently, copies can be downloaded from their website under secondary education – ttp://

National Qualifications Course Materials

Education Scotland continues to add sciences materials created by local authorities to the NQ Glow Portal and is grateful to the practitioners and authorities across Scotland who have contributed to date.

We greatly appreciate the most recent contributions from colleagues in North Ayrshire for sharing materials at National 4 and National 5 for Physics and Cell Biology and Multicellular Organisms and we’re also grateful to colleagues in Moray who have shared their N5 Cell Biology materials.

Aberdeen City have kindly shared a range of National 4 and National 5 Chemistry materials.

Education Scotland is also in the final stages of editing course materials for all N3 and Higher sciences qualifications. These will be posted to the NQ Glow portal in February. Please see our STEM e-bulletin for ongoing updates about NQ support.

If you have any materials you would like to share the please contact

RHET/ Clydesdale Bank National 5 Business Management Project

As a Curriculum for Excellence reaches 4th year in secondary education, RHET, working with schools, wishes to contribute to the real life scenarios that students will be working with for the new National 5 in Business Management.

RHET is looking to recruit 12 secondary schools from across Scotland to use real life farming and agriculture examples to enhance learning in the National 5 Business Management course during this academic year 2013-14.

We would do this by working with the schools concerned to:
a) Have a trained classroom speaker visit school to address one of the business management scenarios:

Human Resources
Tertiary food industry
Working as a co-op

b) Introduce the pupils to the business by taking them to a farm/agri -business where they can see the variety of roles on farm to appreciate the business case for the farm. This can be from any of the above business models.

c) Visit a second part of the same farm, or if this is not appropriate another type of farm business (from the types of business above) to allow pupils to see multiple facets of business.

In many schools the Business group is relatively small, and so costs for transport (fully funded by this project for one year only) should be minimal.

The schools concerned will represent a variety of socio-economic conditions and the businesses involved will be chosen with respect to their location and local impact. The project will be evaluated with each school, farm hosts and processor and taking part.

Further details about this project can be downloaded here – Teacher’s notes – Business project.

Interested? What to do now.

Email RHET at by the 11th October 2013 (no later) requesting to take part.

Mark your email clearly “Clydesdale Bank National 5 Business Management pilot”

You will be informed if you have been successful in late October 2013

Annotated Exemplification of Work

Education Scotland has recently published annotated exemplification which is deemed to typify the achievement of a level. This work is billed as ‘early insights’ as it should be viewed as a starting point for comment, reflection and amendment. It builds on the Assessing Progress and Achievement professional learning resources which have been used to guide the exemplification. Each exemplar contains a mixture of annotated exemplification, pupil voice and practitioner notes/reflection. The amount of each of these has been determined by the staff involved. The resources are a work-in-progress and draw on emerging practice from practitioners from 3-15. There are currently one exemplar at one level across most of the curricular areas although the aim is to add to these. This Annotated Exemplification of Work is available on the Education Scotland website.

It is anticipated that this resource could be used to:
• Inform any review of the quality of learners’ work which is deemed to typify the achievement of a level.
• Identify the range of work which typifies the achievement of a level across the learning in a curriculum area.
• Appreciate how the quality of work being produced by their learners compares with that in the exemplars.
• Identify aspects of the approaches used which might inform their own practice in their context.
• Contribute to identifying gaps in the learning of their learners.
• Provide a focus for professional dialogue involving a group of staff within or across establishments.
• Provide a focus for dialogue involving parents.

Tell us what you think
We would like to hear what you think about what has been produced so far. Your feedback will help inform this on-going work on annotated exemplification which typifies of achievement of a level in each of the curriculum areas to be shared through Education Scotland’s web-site. In particular we would be interested in your views on how well the exemplars support your understanding of assessment and achievement of a level.
In your comment response please can you let us know which sector you work in – early, primary, secondary, special and also the curriculum area you are responding to. Many thanks.

Food and Science ‘Teach Meet’ Free Professional Learning @ Dundee Science Centre

When? 4th September 2013, 16:30 – 18:30

Where? Dundee Science Centre

Recommended for: Practitioners with responsibilities for Food and Health, sciences, and Health and Wellbeing, and planning for learning for early years to senior phase.

Sign up by contacting Michael Smith on or 01382 868609

Food and drink offers an engaging context for learning within Curriculum for Excellence, providing opportunities for

interdisciplinary learning, and for rich and meaningful partnerships between schools, the food and drink industry and other organisations.

4.30-5.15: Registration, light refreshments, networking and tours of the Cooking Bus

5.15 – 6.00: Micro presentations from:

Education Scotland – Food for Thought – Food Education: an overview

Scottish Food and Drink Federation – How to link real life industrial applications to food education in schools

University of Abertay – What help can higher education provide and what are the next stages of study

Food Industry, Agrico– Why we get involved and how we can help support schools

Food and Drink Ambassadors – What we can offer schools

Eco-Schools Scotland – Food and the Environment’ topic; resources and case studies for interdisciplinary learning and teaching

Dundee Science Centre – Bringing food and science to life in Curriculum for Excellence

Scottish Schools Education Research Centre (SSERC) – sharing exciting activities on food chemistry

6.00 – 6.30: Food and Science marketplace, meet experts who can help with practical ideas and ways of using food as a context across learning.  Discover the resources available from a range of        organisations to support your planning for learning and teaching in the context of food and drink.  Hear a selection of micro-presentations, explore exhibitor stands, take away free resources, network with  colleagues and take the chance to visit the Cooking Bus

Delivered by Education Scotland, Scottish Food and Drink Federation, Dundee Science Centre and partners.

SSERC – CPD Opportunities for Secondary Practitioners

The new term is about to begin and SSERC are once again offering a range of practical hands-on CPD courses for Secondary practitioners.  

Places remain on the 2-part residential courses for Biology, Chemistry and Physics, which support CfE up to National 4 and 5.

Places are also available on the Leading for Excellence in Science course which is supported by the National Science Learning Centre.  Delegates from Local Authority schools will be granted an ENTHUSE Award, which covers the cost of the course.

 Download flyers below:

 Biology Residential – Innovative and Practical Workshops

Chemistry Residential – Ceramics, Metals and Products from Plants (1)

Physics Residential-Innovative and Practical Workshops

Leading for Excellence in Science

Please visit our website for our complete listing of CPD opportunities.

SSERC is a Local Authority shared-service providing support across all thirty-two Scottish Education Authorities. Our services are available to elected members and officers of Local Authorities, teachers, student teachers and technicians. In addition, the majority of FE colleges and independent schools within Scotland are members of our organisation.

Major milestone reached in delivery of new curriculum materials

Dr Bill Maxwell, Chief Executive of Education Scotland, outlines how a major milestone has been reached in the delivery of Curriculum for Excellence.

‘Today marks the successful completion of a major programme of work designed to help support the ongoing development of the new curriculum in schools as our team in Education Scotland published the latest tranche of materials to support the new National Qualifications.  As of yesterday, all of these materials are now available on Glow.

Providing these support materials means teachers have an opportunity to see some good examples of how courses can be shaped and delivered. They provide some examples of materials which teachers can use directly in building their own courses, but we will also continue to encourage and champion the development of practitioners own teaching materials and the sharing of good practice.

We have worked with hundreds of teachers in developing this material. I am confident they will become a valuable resource for many others across the country, as have many of the earlier support materials we have already published.

Local authorities and schools are already making good use of the materials we have already issued and our inspections are increasingly providing us with real-life examples of how schools are rising to the challenge of increased expectations brought about by the implementation of the new curriculum.  We will continue to work with teachers and respond to their feedback on these materials to help ensure we are delivering the best support resources possible.

As of the end of April, 95 sets of web-based course materials have been published across the full range of National 4 and National 5 qualifications.  This adds to 69 sets of advice and guidance notes which are already available as well as 77 professional focus papers, covering all subjects at National 4 and National 5.  

I’m pleased to report this major milestone has been achieved on target as we continue to deliver resource materials in support of the new curriculum.’

Dr Bill Maxwell, Chief Executive, Education Scotland


New SCHOLAR Sessions

Glow TV is delighted to be able to offer teachers and students a range of SCHOLAR sessions which will include both Professional Learning opportunities as well as revision sessions for those sitting exams this year.

These begin on Tuesday 23rd April at 7.30pm with a Professional Learning opportunity for Modern Languages teachers entitled ‘Using SCHOLAR to support Higher, Advanced Higher and National 5’. This session will be presented by Douglas Angus, SCHOLAR Online Tutor for Modern Languages. Find out more in Glow TV.

Look out for new homework sessions in May for Modern Languages (German and Spanish) and Physics.

Maths and English Exam Revision – Support Online

Revision support for NQ English and Mathematics

With the SQA National Qualifications examinations looming, the National Glow Team are pleased to announce the launch of exam revision support for NQ English and Mathematics. Aimed at pupils and supported by teachers, this Glow revision resource will help pupils in their preparation for national examinations by allowing them to post questions and queries into a teacher facilitated Glow Forum. The resource will be open to all pupils and teachers with the potential to become a vibrant self-supporting community.

Find out more here.

Further titles published in series of Professional Focus Papers

Education Scotland has published further titles in its series of Professional Focus Papers.  These materials have been designed to assist those supporting learners as they work towards the new qualifications.

The papers highlight important features of learning which are enhanced or different from previous arrangements. They provide advice on approaches to learning and teaching which build directly on those used in the 3-15 Broad General Education in order to promote continuity in learners’ acquisition of knowledge, understanding and skills. The papers are also intended to stimulate professional reflection and dialogue about learning. 

This set of materials covers a variety of subjects at National 4 and National 5: Lifeskills Mathematics, Mathematics, Care, Latin and Classical Studies. 

Also available, at National 5 only: Dance, Psychology, Sociology and Economics. 

They come as part of the development of exemplar course materials across the full range of National 4 and National 5 qualifications, being managed by Education Scotland in partnership with ADES. 

The Professional Focus Papers are now available for download on the National Qualifications area of the Education Scotland website.

Learning for Sustainability – report published

Learning for Sustainability – the report of the One Planet Schools Working Group, was published 17 December 2012. 

The report includes strategic recommendations to support the development of coherent whole school approaches to ensure that learning for sustainability, global citizenship and outdoor learning are experienced in a transformative way by every learner in every school across Scotland. The report includes a number of recommendations relating to career-long professional learning and initial teacher education and advocates genuine partnerships with local communities and action to improve the sustainability of the school estate. A key ambition of the report is to provide an agenda for strategic change that will create an enabling framework, remove barriers, and build on existing excellent practice.

Dr Alasdair Allan, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages said:
“I welcome the publication of Learning for Sustainability and would like to thank the Working Group for their work and commitment to producing the report and recommendations. As we approach the Year of Natural Scotland in 2013, the report reminds us of the importance of learning which connects young people to local and global issues, an integral part of Curriculum for Excellence.

“A wide range of actions have been taken as part of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development and we welcome steps to encourage and support schools in their approach to sustainability and global citizenship, including through outdoor learning.

“We will take time to consider the report, to engage with partners on its recommendations and respond in full in March 2013.”

The report can be downloaded from: 

See the associated Engage in Education blog from Professor Pete Higgins, Chair of the One Planet Schools Working Group:

Aiming High in Higher Scottish History

Practitioners who are specialists in History may be interested in the following event:

Aiming High in Higher Scottish History:
a Conference for Teachers and Learners

Saturday 1 December 2012
University of Glasgow

Teachers and learners studying Scottish History topics at Higher level are invited to hear exciting new research on their topics from leading academics at the University of Glasgow. Simon Wood, Principal Teacher of History, will share advice on how to maximise exam performance.

The conference is free and spaces are limited: book now at Please book a place in the conference and choose a topical breakout session.

Location: Boyd Orr Building, University of Glasgow

10:15 Coffee, tea and juice available on arrival

10:30-10.40 Welcome and opening remarks, Boyd Orr Building, Lecture Theatre 1

10:50 -11:50 Session 1: breakout rooms in Boyd Orr
• Wars of Independence I with Professor Dauvit Broun
• The Age of the Reformation I with Dr. Steven Reid
• The Treaty of Union I with Dr. Karin Bowie
• Migration and Empire I with Professor Ted Cowan
• The Impact of the Great War I: An Archaeological Perspective with Dr. Tony Pollard

12:00-12:45 Plenary Session with Simon Wood, Principal Teacher of History

12:45-12:55 Website launch: University of Glasgow resources for teachers and learners in Scottish History

12:55-2:30 Lunch (own arrangements)
• Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery open (free admission)

2:30-3:20 Session 2: breakout rooms in Boyd Orr
• Wars of Independence II with Professor Dauvit Broun
• The Age of the Reformation II with Dr. Steven Reid
• The Treaty of Union II with Dr. Karin Bowie
• Migration and Empire II with Professor Ted Cowan
• The Impact of the Great War II with Dr. Irene Maver

3:30-3:45 Closing remarks, Boyd Orr Lecture Theatre 1

Travel information: the Boyd Orr building is located on University Avenue between Byres Road and the university’s main gate. The nearest underground stop is Hillhead station. For more information on the conference, contact Dr. Karin Bowie at

Testimony (RME)

Testimony is Education Scotland’s new high quality resource to support learning and teaching in religious and moral education. It has been designed for use by both staff and senior phase pupils.


Testimony illustrates how faith, belief and values can influence how a person acts. It includes examples of religious and non-religious standpoints to show how people from around the world and in Scotland have been influenced by faith. The material includes the personal testimonies of some well-known individuals alongside the stories of ordinary members of faith communities.


It can be used to support learning within the new SQA award in Religion, Belief and Values and also supports the development of skills for learning, life and work.


Scott Duncan, Education Scotland’s RME Development Officer, was interviewed at this year’s Scottish Learning Festival about the Testimony resource – listen to a recording of the interview.


Find out more by visiting the Testimony web resource.

I Speak for Myself

At Amina MWRC we are passionate about empowering and inspiring women, spreading knowledge of women’s rights and promoting positive images of Muslim women.  Last year 19 secondary schools across Scotland were visited to allow young people the opportunity to discuss Islam and Muslims.  Staggeringly over 70% of secondary school young people associated words such as “Terrorist”, “Foreign”, “Oppressed” and “Uneducated” to Muslim women. 

Responding to this, ‘I Speak for Myself’ was born.
From November 2011 until February 2012 we have engaged with over 300 Muslim women from Dumfries and Galloway to Elgin and all the major cities and towns in between.  For more information about our Roadshow click here.
September 2012  will see the launch of our national campaign ‘I Speak for Myself’ at the Scottish Parliament.  The campaign will exhibit over a hundred of the messages captured during our roadshow and aims to tackle misconceptions and common stereotypes about Muslim women, thus reducing inequality and sexual discrimination not only within the Muslim community but also in the wider society.

The Sciences 3-18 Curriculum Area Impact Project Report Launches at SLF 2012

 Yesterday saw the launch of the Sciences 3-18 Curriculum Area Impact Project report in a lively and challenging session at SLF 2012. We were delighted to welcome to the session practitioners, partners, young people and parents as we shared the key messages from the report, and our strategies for taking this forward. Delegates were enthusiastic in joining the debate around the key strengths and aspects for development, talking together and reflecting on these, and on their role in taking forward the sciences 3-18 in Scotland.

 If you haven’t yet seen the report, you can find it on the Education Scotland website and join the debate on our Sciences Curriculum Area Impact Project blog. We have posted the shared outcomes of the discussions at SLF2012, which we hope will inspire you to blog and comment too!

Launch of The Sciences 3-18 Curriculum Impact Project report

Education Scotland today launches The Sciences 3-18 Curriculum Impact Project report. The sciences and social studies reports are the first two reports in a Curriculum Impact series designed to present a subject-by-subject picture of how children and young people are experiencing learning in different areas of the 3-18 curriculum across the country.

Providing subject-specific analysis and evaluation of current practice, based on a range of independent inspection activities, the report identifies emerging innovative and thought-provoking practice, while highlighting important areas for development. Published on the web, the report will be refreshed from time to time with links to newly-identified, practice and evidence, a dynamic approach that will keep the reviews contemporary on an on-going basis, and relevant to developing needs.

A summary for children and young people has also been published, along with a summary of key strengths and aspects for development.

The publication is intended to provide a focus engagement by children and young people, parents, practitioners and the wider sciences community in Scotland.

Through our Sciences 3-18 Impact Project blog, we want to engage all those involved in the sciences 3-18 to talk together  about how we can work together to take forward the key messages of the report.

This outward facing, public blog is a mechanism to allow engagement by all.





Talk with us on

The STEM Professional Learning Community will also act as a focus for professional dialogue and learning around the Sciences 3-18 Impact Project. Join us, using your Glow login in, on

Glow TV – Watch Again!

Have you read about an event in Glow TV and wanted to join in live but were unable to because of other classroom commitments or timetabling? Do you want the ability to view exciting or interesting pupil focused Glow Meets at a time that is convenient to you? Do you want to enhance your Professional Learning at a time that suits you? Well you can in Glow TV’s Watch Again facility!

All Glow TV events are recorded so if the time of the live event isn’t suitable for you and/or your class to join in you can still have the opportunity to watch the recorded version at a time that suits your timetable or other classroom/personal commitments.

Watch Again is available in Glow TV and you can filter all the recordings that have taken place over the past 17 months either by name or by the programme category eg Literacy and English, CPD etc or by the programme tags.Once you have found what you want to watch simply click the Watch Again link which will take you to your chosen programme (and all the others in that channel category too!) and you can then view the recording at your leisure. You can also have the opportunity in our Watch Again Feedback Forum to let us know how useful you found the recording and if/how it enhanced your or your classes learning.

So why not take part in Glow TV when it suits you? You may not be able to ask questions in a live environment but you will still be able to see and listen to experts in their field and have fun in our numerous interactive Glow TV events.

Schools IT Excellence Group set up

The Scottish Government has announced that Education Secretary Michael Russell has appointed the Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Muffy Calder to convene an ICT Excellence Group to consider the future development of the schools’ intranet ‘Glow’.

 The new ICT Excellence Group will draw on the experience and expertise of end-users, and educational technology experts to scope the long-term user-centred future of Glow.

 Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell said:

 “It is crucial that the next generation of Glow allows schools to harness the power of technology for learning, to keep pace with rapidly evolving developments and speak the language that young people speak online.

 “Professor Calder’s group will have the challenge of imagining a future for the service that can be customised to the individual requirements of our young people, is dynamic and can remain relevant for years to come. I look forward to receiving their advice later this year.”

 The group members are now announced as follows: Prof Muffy Calder, Prof Ian Sommerville, Prof Mike Sharples, Mr Ewan McIntosh, Mr Charlie Love, Prof Bill Buchanan, Mr Hamish Budge, Prof Jeff Haywood, Mr Neil Winton, Mr Tony Rafferty, Mr Fraser Speirs, Ms Jaye Richards Hill and Mr Martin Dewar who will facilitate the involvement of two school pupils in the group.

See announcement on Engage for Education.

New advice and guidance published for Maths National 2

The advice and guidance document on personal mathematics gives practitioners support in developing relevant learning experiences for learners covering this National 2 Mathematics unit. It is intended to provide support for practitioners in developing cross-curricular projects.

New advice and guidance published for Skills National 2

This advice and guidance is designed to support practitioners working with learners at National 2 level. It provides guidance to practitioners to support the development of learning experiences which will incorporate both knowledge and the development of skills and provides examples of how skills can be formatively assessed and progression planned for and profiled.

New advice and guidance published for Computing Science – Added Value Unit

This advice and guidance demonstrates the practical application of skills and knowledge developed within the units of Software Design and Development and Information Systems Design and Development.  The guidance indicates how problem solving  can be applied and transferred in differing contexts.

View the new advice and guidance here.

New advice and guidance published for Computing Science – Hardware

This advice and guidance provides an exemplar project and suggested learning and teaching approaches that may give learners the opportunity to carry out research and gain an understanding of computer systems and hardware technology.

View the new advice and guidance here.

New advice and guidance published for Administration and IT – Emerging Technologies

This support consists of three video case studies which will help identify current innovations impacting on the working practices of administrators within the modern, dynamic workplace. These current innovations will be further explored with links to free web-based material to give practitioners and learners the opportunity to experiment with emerging technologies which may be of benefit to the administrative function. 

View the new advice and guidance here.

New advice and guidance published for Literacy National 4

The following support materials are intended to guide those preparing learners for reading and writing skills in Literacy at National 4 (6 SCQF credit points). Although these materials are more relevant to the college sector, practitioners in schools may find some interesting ideas in them to explore and develop.

New advice and guidance published for Music

New advice and guidance published for Music

These materials support Music at National 3, 4 and 5 levels.   There are a range of tools available to support the monitoring and tracking of learning in instrumental teaching sessions. An additional proforma has been added to support the tracking of pupil progress in a chosen instrument. It enables the highlighting of appropriate concepts which are taught during a lesson and the skills being developed by learners.

Cabinet Secretary announces positive future for Glow

Mr Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, made an announcement today on the immediate and long-term future of Glow. 

You can read full details of Mr Russell’s announcement on Engage for Education.

Learning for the new NQs: Beyond the X-ray machine

If the X-ray machine is a 20th Century icon, is this high tech surgical “ipad” an icon for the 21st century? This touchscreen “operating table”, the brainchild of Jack Choi of Anamotage, is in use in a UK hospital where applications include training future surgeons and planning real-life surgery. Interested in hearing Jack Choi talk about his virtual dissection table? Try this short TED Talk from February 2012.

This could raise some interesting questions for learners: what are the principles behind the imaging techniques used? Is this £60k equipment really an advance over the traditional X-ray?

STEM Central Electric Transport and a context for learning for the new NQs

Many thanks to our Engineering the Future colleagues for highlighting this link which could be used to enrich learning around the STEM Central electric transport context. In Meet the Inventor of the World’s Fastest Electric Motorcycle Michael Czysz talks about making his dream a reality, and what it feels like to travel at 200 mph on a motorbike hearing only the sound of the air.

Thinking about sustainable transport as a context for learning for the new NQs? Along with the world’s fastest electric motorcycle, what about freight ships towed by massive kites to reduce fuel demand? Scope for creative design and practical investigative work with learners in sciences and technologies?

For more on electric transport see  our 13th May blog post STEM Central Electric Transport, the smater Smart car and a context for learning for the new NQs.

Learning for the new NQs: Will Bioenergy play a part in our secure energy future?

Exploring Bioenergy could feature within your plans for learning and teaching for the new NQs in Environmental Science, Physics or Science. What is it? Could it form part of our strategy for energy security in Scotland and the UK?

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has published the UK Bioenergy Strategy with  handy “key facts” on the front page. In addition the Frequently Asked Questions highlights issues such as ‘Shouldn’t land used for food production rather than energy crops?’ which could form the basis of debate and investigative work with learners.

This DECC website has, under the “Meeting Energy Demand” tab, information on everything from hydrogen fuel cells to nuclear power, along with easily accessible useful links to relevant websites. This could provide a rich source of background material for your planning associated with our recently published advice and guidance on energy security.

Learning for the new NQs: Speak up Scotland! A Year of Science Debating

Within our recently published advice and guidance associated with the new NQs in science, there are a number of areas which would lend themselves to discussion in the classroom. What does this look like? What is the difference between learners talking, and discussing? Arguing and debating? What tools and approaches can be used to ensure learners are developing their skills in discussion, argumentation, and debate?

A teacher’s handbook from the English-Speaking Union (ESU) Scotland came across my desk this week. 2012 is  the year of the ESU’s Speak up Scotland! Science Debating project. Within this easily digestible, practical handbook are a range of techniques and approaches which can be used to structure debate within the science classroom, and include all learners within the class. It explains how to plan and structure a formal debate, if that is what you are looking for, including how to structure a speech, a format for judging the content and skills of the participants – useful for teacher observation or peer evaluation. Other approaches described include balloon and role play debates. Exemplification is given for role playdebates in bio-prospecting and badger culling.

The booklet also contains starters for debates such as:

 ”this house believes the government should fund research on planet earth rather than the cosmos” – ties in with the new National 4/5 qualifications in Physics

“this house would give up non essential flying to help curb dangerous climate change” – ties in with the sustainability elements across a number of the new NQs including Environmental Science

“this house would ban research on embryonic stem cells” – ties in with the National 4/5 qualifications in Biology and our published advice and guidance on Health and Disease.

Each section includes “fast facts”, and suggested questions to ask – does an embryo have human rights? how do we know how old the universe is? how do we control nanoparticles in our environment; or artificial organisms we create?

All of this is also available on the project website where you can  find out how schools are using the debates and the feedback from learners.

If your learners need support in building confidence to speak in front of others, why not look back to our Debating in Schools resources published in 2007 which include Building Speaking Confidence: Guidance for first-time speakers.

Learning for the new NQs in Environmental Science, Physics or Science: Energy Security and Sustainable Living

If you are planning learning and teaching for the new NQs around themes of energy security and sustainability, the Institute for Public Policy and Research website might be a good port of call. Bringing together articles, publications, reports and rich data this site provides a wealth of information which could be used in your planning, or for learners incorporating numeracy and literacy into learning.

For example, will our household energy bills be increased by use of renewables? What are the options given our increasing energy demands? Is media reporting of renewables fair and balanced? Articles such as Telegraph distorts the truth on energy bills , ITV must show BBC the way on accurate green reporting  and Three ways we can face up to ‘green energy’ backlash make for interesting reading.

Learning for the new NQs: Carbon Capture and Storage

If you are planning for learning and teaching associated with the new National Qualifications in Environmental Science, Physics or Science, the BBC’s short video “Norway tests carbon capture and storage” may be of interest. What is the science behind carbon capture? What are the risks associated with use of this technology? Do we need it?  NASA scientist Dr James Hansen discussed the future of coal-fired power stations with carbon capture technologies in a Scottish and UK context at the recent Edinburgh International Science Festival, ahead of his award of the prestigious Edinburgh Medal. As experimental capture gets underway in Scotland, the Zero Emissions Platform website provides a wealth of information.

Learning for the new NQs: Research tie in with Food Security

At the beginning of May, The James Hutton Institute announced the award of £1.25 million to work towards more sustainble, disease resistance crops to enhance our future food security.

This ties in with Education Scotland’s recently published work on Food Security for National 4 Science and National 5 Biology, along with work associated with Inheritance for National 5 Biology.  Published advice and guidance is intended for use by practitioners in creative and innovative ways, to plan approaches to meet the needs of learners. Flexibility within the new National Qualifications offers the ideal opportunity to plan for learning and teaching which incorporates cutting edge Scottish and global research, and builds in meaningful partnerships from the rich STEM landscape in Scotland.

Looking ahead to the forthcoming school year, we are developing the theme of Food Security for first through to fourth level as a context in STEM Central, providing scope for working within clusters to build a continuous learning journey. More news will be published on the ES Learning Blog later this year.

Learning for the new NQs in Sciences

Have you had an opportunity to explore the advice and guidance published to support practitioners in planning for learning and teaching for the new National Qualifications? Education Scotland has published a suite of advice and guidance exemplifying skills, teaching approaches, challenge, the use of context and incorporation of literacy, numeracy and ICT in learning and teaching in sciences.

The published advice and guidance is intended for use by practitioners and is non-mandatory. It is intended that practitioners will use it in a reflective and selective manner.

Throughout, reflective questions for learners are provided to aid practitioners in planning learning and teaching to meet the needs of learners. In many cases, investigative work and inquiry-based practical learning will supplement the learning and teaching described.

Learning for the new NQs: X-ray machines – a 20th century icon

Is the x-ray machine a 20th century icon? If you are planning for learning and teaching using the published advice and guidance associated with Nuclear Chemistry and Physics then this 7 minute video from The Guardian’s Newton Channel “X-ray machines – a 20th century icon” may be of interest. What is the connection between the work of Marie Curie and this crucial advancement in diagnostic and therapeutic healthcare?

STEM Central Renewables and Learning for the new NQs: A Bright Solar Future?

Are you working with learners using the STEM Central Renewables context? Or planning for learning and teaching in the context of Energy Security associated with Physics or with Environmental Science?

The Guardian’s Newton Channel includes an 11 minute video about the world’s first commercial solar power plant, in Spain. Could this technology be used more widely to help the world build a sustainable, low carbon future? What are the limitations of this technology? What are the limitations of our ability to harness the sun’s energy? How much energy are we talking about? Learners in sunny places could try to recreate Sir John Herschel’s 1838 experiment or watch Brian Cox Measuring a Sunbeam.

STEM Central Electric Transport, the smarter Smart car and a context for learning for the new NQs

Electric cars – are they a viable option as we seek a low carbon future? What are the limitations of the technologies currently available? If you are working with learners using the STEM Central Electric Transport context The Guardian’s Newton Channel includes a 6 minute video “Making Smart cars smarter” may be of interest. Scientists at the University of Newcastle are working to enhance Smart cars to allow them to travel longer distances without recharging.  

If your learners are interested in technologies associated with driving and transport, research from Newcastle University using an adapted electric car may also be of interest.

Or perhaps you are exploring Energy Security in the context of the new National Qualifications for Environmental Science, Physics or Science? In future, will we be plugging our electric cars into the Smart Grid to sell our excess  energy to others at times of peak demand? The University of Strathclyde is working in conjunction with leading energy companies to kick start Smart Grid development here in Scotland, with world class facilities under development in Cumbernauld.

Energy, energy security and our sustainable future, whether exploring the future of transport or the National Grid, offers an exciting and engaging context for planning learning and teaching to meet the needs of a range of learners, working within a range of levels.

Learning for the new NQs: The rise of performance-enhancing genes

A recent article from The Guardian “The rise of performance-enhancing genes” provides a link between advice and guidance to support planning for learning and teaching associated with National 5 Biology and the 2012 Olympics.

An athlete’s performance can be enhanced significantly by a single ‘super’ gene, but is it fair?

Learning for the new NQs and forthcoming Glow meet on Stem Cells

The forthcoming special edition of Talking Stem Cells Ethical Dilemma series featuring Dr Bill Ritchie who was involved in the creation of Dolly the Sheep is coming up on Thursday 17th May from 1100-1230. You can sign up and join in via Glow Tv – please drop in even if you can’t attend for the whole event.

This Glow meet, which incorporates an input from a patient who may benefit from stem cell therapy, comes at an ideal time to tie in with recent publication by Education Scotland of advice and guidance associated with the new National Qualifications in Biology. Why not take this opportunity for your current S2 learners who will be entering the Senior Phase in 2013/14 to learn more about a topic on which they can build for NQs in Biology? Or why not sign up as part of your own CPD, and consider how you can plan for forming partnerships with cutting edge research in Scotland to enhance learning and teaching?

 Background on Dolly the Sheep can be found at The Roslin Institute webpages.  

This event will be coming live from Gairloch High School in the Highlands and you can find a Student pack associated with this event in the Stem Cell Glow Group.

Sign up and join us in Glow TV on Thursday 17th May from 11-12.30pm – or for as long as you can!!


Learning for the new NQs: Inheritance


University of Sheffield research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that Darwinian theories of evolution and natural selection continue to affect humans. This short article from The Independent “Humans still evolving” could be included in plans for learning and teaching associated with our forthcoming advice and guidance for National 5 Biology on Inheritance. More information on the research work associated with this publication can be found on the University of Sheffield website Human Life-History.

Learning for the new NQs :Nuclear Power and Energy Security:

This week sees the shutdown of Japan’s last working nuclear reactor, in a country previously dependent on nuclear power for 30% of its energy needs.

Tomari shutdown leaves Japan without nuclear power

Energy Security is a rich context for learning which could meet the needs of learners for National 3, National 4, National 5 or Higher, in Environmental Science, Physics or Science. Advice and guidance aimed associated with Energy Security for National 4 Physics can be found on the Education Scotland website.

Advice and guidance associated with Nuclear Chemistry for National 5 has also been published. This has been written to intertwine the work of Albert Einstein and Marie Curie, exploring the issues associated with harnessing the power of the atom over the last 100 years and equally addressing the learning associated with National 5 Physics.

Throughout the advice and guidance, reflective questions are included to help you plan for learning and teaching to engage and challenge your learners. Does nuclear power play a role in our future? What about harnessing the atom’s power for other uses such as medical applications?

Learning for the new NQs: Food Security

Recent headlines on GM food from the BBC tie in with the Food Security published advice and guidance for National 4 Science and National 5 Biology. Food Security and sustainability as contexts also lend themselves to planning for learning and teaching associated with Environmental Science.

The advice and guidance includes reflective questions to aid you in planning for topical, relevant and challenging learning appropriate for your learners. What is GM? Will it play a role in feeding the world’s population of 7 billion and rising?

STEM Central and The James Hutton Institute’s Water Works

Earlier this year, we blogged about this exciting opportunity which can be used in many contexts, including to enrich the STEM Central water context.

A trickling burn, a flooded street, a horse’s trough or a grand Scottish loch – no matter what comes to mind when you think of water the Water Works competition wants your photographs. The James Hutton Institute has now announced the March winner of the competition,  John Smith, Age 8, from Orkney. His picture, shown above, is called “The Flood at the Pumping Station” and shows his local pumping station at North Stronsay, flooded due to the nearby loch overflowing.

The James Hutton Institute’s Facebook page has more information on the March entries and how you can take part in May’s competition.

Need some more inspiration on water? 

Whether you are working with the STEM Central Flood Management learning journeys in the context of social sciences, technologies or maths, or planning learning and teaching around themes of sustainability for new National Qualifications, this article published in The Telegraph, by James Dyson “Engineering can save us from drought” might provide information or inspiration. Perhaps you could use this year’s Dyson Challenge as a basis for learning, maybe your learners hold the key to saving water for a more sustainable future?

If your learners are considering the current drought and flood situation in large parts of England, why not use it as an opportunity to explore the role of engineers in sustainability? We would love to hear your ideas on our STEM Central in Motion blog.

Or try using the mindmap tool in Glow Science to kickstart thinking for you or your learners.

The James Hutton Institute via the Centre of Expertise for Waters  are running a year long competition aimed at raising awareness of water and water-related issues across both primary and secondary ages. The competition, with monthly prizes, aims to encourage learners to think about the natural environment and make the link between CfE curriculum areas Sciences, Technologies and Expressive Arts. The competition page gives background on the competition and entry instructions.

Learning in the new NQs: numeracy in sciences

Education Scotland’s recently published advice and guidance includes exemplification of skills appropriate to National 4 and National 5. These have been exemplified in a biological context for National 4 Science, and in a physics context for National 5 Physics and can be used by practitioners to consider the level of challenge appropriate to N4 and N5 in terms of Building the Curriculum 4: Skills for Learning, Life and Work, the SQA’s Skills Framework, and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.

One area of numeracy you may be planning to explore with learners is the issue of causality and correlation. Can we use data to draw conclusions? Among the examples included in the advice and guidance for science is a consideration of whether or not there is a link between Type 2 diabetes and obesity. A starting point for discussion comes from the BBC’s Go Figure series in this article Watching out for Wimbledon-washing machine links. Does Wimbledon fortnight really affect demand for washing machine repairs?

Advice & Guidance for NQ Technologies

As you will no doubt know, the SQA have published their final documents for National 2 – Higher. In order to support schools in the delivery of key aspects of the new qualifications, Educations Scotland have published published a suite of practical advice and guidance for teachers and lecturers.

There are new materials to help practitioners deliver their national 4 and 5 courses, although with some amendment, practitioners could use these materials at other levels too. Practitioners can also use the ideas and suggestions to apply them to their own materials as they see fit.

I think all teachers who will be delivering the new qualifications will find them useful and we would be delighted to receive your feedback. To access the advice and support from Education Scotland please click here.

To access the SQA website pages containing the final documents for Technologies please click here and selct your subject from the drop down menu.

Advice and guidance for new NQs

Education Scotland has now published a range of practical advice and guidance to support teachers and lecturers in the delivery of new NQs. This is now live on our website.

The advice and guidance which is available to download has been developed through ongoing discussions with Scotland’s national education stakeholders. My involvement has seen me working with many practitioners who are at the chalkface.

The views of teachers and lecturers have helped to shape the priorities for the advice and guidance. The focus has been on the delivery of courses where there is significant change – new units, combined courses and / or new contexts of learning. The advice and guidance hosted online is presented in a variety of accessible formats and include written advice, videos and some PowerPoint presentations. Links to other information and websites are also available within the documents and practitioners can use and / or adapt these materials to suit the needs of their learners.

The files are freely available – a Glow login is not required to download them. They can be found on the Education Scotland website here. Please take some time to read the materials and leave your comments on them.

Advice and Guidance for new National Qualifications: the nature of risk

A theme which comes through in a number of the new National Qualifications for sciences is that of risk, risks and benefits, and risk management. What does this look like for the learner? Is it a list of pros and cons or something more sophisticated?

In a BBC article from the Go Figure series, the question is posed “How risky is it if you don’t know the risks?” which explores this in the context of understanding the ‘risk’ of mobile phone use.  The article was published in June 2011 but of course the issue of mobile phone ‘risk’ was raised again in the media very recently. This could also be the basis for discussion around risks associated with

radioactivity, in the context of the Advice and Guidance for Nuclear Chemistry, or Nuclear Physics

different energy sources and energy security within Physics or Environmental Science

developments in DNA science in our Health and Disease, or Inheritance Advice and Guidance.

New Advice and Support for Secondary Schools

 As you will no doubt know, the SQA have published their final documents for National 2 – Higher.  In order to support schools in the delivery of key aspects of the new qualifications, Education Scotland has  published a suite of practical advice and guidance for teachers and lecturers.  

There are new materials to help practitioners deliver their national 4 and 5 courses, although with some amendment, practitioners  could use these materials at other levels too.  They are designed to be skilled focussed to help teachers and lecturers  integrate the skills of listening and talking, reading and writing.  Practitioners can also use the ideas and suggestions to apply them to their own materials as they see fit.

The National 4 materials are based on five episodes of an audio book called “Mike Martin et le Grand Jeu” and the National 5 materials  includes a video of three young French people discussing the contexts of Society, Learning, Employability and Culture.  Both sets of documents include extensive exemplification, advice and guidance for practitioners and notes for learners.

I think all practitioners who will be delivering the new qualifications will find them useful and would be delighted to receive your feedback.  To access the advice and support from Education Scotland please click here

To access the SQA website pages containing the final documents for Modern Languages please click here

STEM Central Water water everywhere…engineering solutions needed!

Whether you are working with the STEM Central Flood Management learning journeys in the context of social sciences, technologies or maths, or planning learning and teaching around themes of sustainability for new National Qualifications, this article published in The Telegraph, by James Dyson “Engineering can save us from drought” might provide information or inspiration. Perhaps you could use this year’s Dyson Challenge as a basis for learning, maybe your learners hold the key to saving water for a more sustainable future?

If your learners are considering the current drought and flood situation in large parts of England, why not use it as an opportunity to explore the role of engineers in sustainability? We would love to hear your ideas on our STEM Central in Motion blog.

Food for Thought? Food Security in the new National Qualifications

One of the contexts for learning and teaching within the advice and guidance for the new National Qualifications is Food Security. This could provide a context for learning relevant within Biology, Environmental Science, or Science, and with approriate differentiation to meet the needs of learners, as a context for learning at National 3, National 4, National 5 and Higher.

How about using this image , published in The Independent newspaper on 17th April, to prompt discussion? Could a cupcake made of insects be part of our future to enable us to feed the world’s rising population? Researchers at the University of Wageningen in the The Netherlands believe so. More information can be found in the International Business Times article “Cupcakes made from Insects: Food for Thought?”