University of Edinburgh

Special Assessment Arrangements

Specification 3: Literacy Units

This is the new one, most of the specifications reflect existing practice; there is no change, it is what has always been the case. But the new national literacy units, our new qualifications, they are units, they are at SCQF levels 3,4 and 5. They are different from English in that they are about reading, writing, talking and listening in a functional, transactional way.

When we were developing the qualification we were thinking about the candidates who had particular difficulties in reading, writing, talking and listening and what adjustments [they need]. For many candidates there are many adjustments that could be put in place.

The bottom line is a candidate cannot be exempted from reading, writing, talking or listening in the literacy units and that's because if you look at the specifications for literacy the 4 skills are given equal importance. It's about skills for learning, life and work, and it's about being able to read, talk, listen and write. So we are saying you can't be exempted from any of the key skills and you cannot be allowed to have the support of a human reader in the component that explicitly assesses reading and you cannot be allowed a human scribe in the component which explicitly assesses writing because the outcome in reading is about reading and understanding and it's about writing technically accurate text. The decision was taken that this was not deemed to be a reasonable adjustment in the literacy units. Please remember that the literacy units are not externally set exams, it is an internally assessed unit. It's designed to be very flexible, context-free but undoubtedly there will be some candidates who are unable to achieve the literacy unit because they are unable to meet the outcomes and the evidence requirements for that unit.

The further implication of the literacy unit is that in National courses in English at 3 and 4 (ie National 4 course in English and National 3 course in English) the literacy unit is one of the mandatory units. So at National 4 you have the 2 English units, a literacy unit and an added value unit. At National 3 there are 2 English units and the literacy unit. So a candidate unable to achieve the literacy unit will not be able to achieve the full course award for English at National 3 and 4.

If they require the support of a human reader and scribe, they cannot have that in the literacy unit but they can have it in the 2 English units which would be on the certificate at National 3 or they could have it in the 2 English units and the added value unit at National 4.

So there are implications there and I certainly want you to discuss that in your group thinking of the candidates that you work with and we'll come back to that at the discussion.

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