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ICT in National Literacy Units

Students are not allowed to use a human reader in the assessment of reading for National 3, 4 or 5 Literacy Units in English or Gaelic. Likewise, students cannot use a scribe when writing is assessed.

Learners can, however, use a computer reader, and can also use technology to support their writing - such as a spellchecker, word prediction, or speech recognition/dictation software.


Human readers and scribes can be used in most SQA assessments and examinations, but for the Literacy Units,

candidates are explicitly required to demonstrate the ability to read, understand and respond to word-based texts and to demonstrate the ability to write technically accurate texts"
and therefore,
provision of a human reader and/or a human scribe would undermine the fundamental assessment objectives for reading and writing.
(Section 96(7) Equality Act 2010: Specifications on Reasonable Adjustments in National Qualifications).



Assessing Reading

In the assessment of reading, learners usually read some text and then answer questions. Teachers can use their own texts, or use example assessments from the SQA Secure website.

The exemplars are Word files and a teacher can make them accessible to candidates in several different ways:

  • print the assessment on white or coloured paper;
  • enlarge the text using a photocopier;
  • provide the Word file to the learner, for reading on a laptop, tablet, iPad, mobile phone etc;
  • change the font and font size and then print it out, or give the adapted digital file to the candidate to read on a computer or other device;
  • ask the local authority visual impairment transcription service to convert the file into Braille;
  • convert the Word file to another format such as PDF or Kindle.

If a learner cannot read or access the text in the reading assessment due to disability or additional support need, it is expected that the school will adapt the assessment so that is accessible.

On a computer or tablet, a learner can open the Word file and:

  • change the font, size, line spacing, background and text colour;
  • use the arrow keys or mouse to scroll up and down;
  • read the text with text-to-speech software.

Text reader, or text-to-speech software is commonly available on most computers and other devices: visit our Text-to-Speech web pages to find out more. School computers should all have the high quality Heather and Stuart Scottish voices installed as standard, while Gaelic medium learners who require a text reader can now use Ceitidh, the new Gaelic computer voice.


Assessing Writing Skills

At National 3,
the learner is expected to "write simple formal continuous prose which:

  • "contain a few ideas or a set of ideas;
  • contain familiar vocabulary;
  • uses simple expression;
  • is more than 80 words in length."

At National 4,
the learner is expected to "write simple formal continuous prose which:

  • "contains several ideas or sets of ideas
  • contains supporting detail
  • contains straightforward vocabulary
  • uses straightforward expression
  • is more than 300 words in length."

All learners can use a word processor, tablet, mobile phone etc, with AutoCorrect, spellchecker and electronic dictionary, to write their text.

Unit Support Notes - Literacy (National 3)

"Where resources permit, Centres should use technology as much as possible to support learning, teaching and assessment."

  • Some learners have difficulty identifying the correct word in the spellchecker list: WordTalk is available free from CALL Scotland, and it has a talking spellchecker that can read out the words in the list.
  • Learners with more significant spelling difficulties may benefit from word prediction software such as Co:Writer, ClaroRead, Penfriend or read&write. Most of these are available both as Windows programs and also as iPad apps.
  • Speech recognition is another option for learners with writing difficulties and the latest speech recognition programs are remarkably accurate and easy to use: see CALL’s webpages on Speech Recognition.