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Book now for the MSA’s 2021 virtual conference

Owing to the continuing public health situation with COVID-19, we believe it’s safer to once again hold the Modern Studies Association (MSA) Annual Conference online, ensuring teachers across the country are able to safely participate.

Last year, we held our first virtual conference ever, with feedback from attendees being overwhelmingly positive of the experience. In light of the ongoing nature of COVID-19, and the fact that our Annual Conference serves as a helpful CLPL opportunity for Modern Studies Teachers across Scotland, the MSA National Committee has decided to once again host conference online on Saturday 6th November 2021.

This year’s Virtual Conference will welcome keynote presentations from Sir John Curtice, Senior Research Fellow at NatCen and Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde, and Professor Susan McVie, Professor of Quantitative Criminology at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Law.

In addition to our keynote presentations, we will welcome organisations including the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), among others, to different a range of subject-specific breakout seminars and workshops, offering expert input on subjects covered in Modern Studies classrooms.

As always, conference will also welcome a range of stall-holders offering their advice, contact details, and links to curricular-related resources. Alongside the keynote speakers and workshop hosts, we hope that stall-holders will be able to join in with the live discussion function our Virtual Conference will once again feature.

Our Virtual Conference will begin at 9.45am with the traditional welcome from our Chairperson, James Cook. At 10am, the first of our keynote speakers will present, before taking any questions which stem from their insightful presentation. At 11.10am, there will be specific time for attendees to engage with the stalls on offer, and drop into the work-shops on offer, before Conference reconvenes at 12pm for our second keynote presentation, followed by a Q&A session. Conference will then end at 1pm.

Bookings for Conference are now open, with a flat fee of £1. PGDE students will be able to attend Conference for free, but booking will still be required. Bookings for PGDE members will remain open until 6pm on Friday 5th November 2021. However, all other bookings can be made up to – and including – the morning of Conference.

Booking instructions can be found here.

2021 Modern Studies assessment arrangements announced

This afternoon (7th October 2020), Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney MSP, announced the current Scottish Government and SQA planning for how National Qualifications will be certificated in 2021. The changes are based on the SQA’s consultation in August, as well as the recent Priestly Review.

Among the headline announcements was a confirmation that National 5 exams will not take place, and will instead be replaced by the use of Teacher estimates. Meanwhile, exams for Higher and Advanced Higher are being planned for during a later-than-usual exam diet in late May, early June. This will be kept under constant review, with Teacher estimates being planned as a contingency option.

Looking to Modern Studies, there will be National 5 Question Paper, will the SQA has confirmed that they will not assess coursework, meaning the Assignment has been cancelled for 2020-21. Instead, the SQA is currently liaising with stakeholders to develop an alternative certification model, allowing Teacher estimates to form the basis of candidate certification.

As part of the consultation with stakeholders, the SQA can published guidance on producing estimates during the 2020-21 session on the website, while a new SQA Academy course is available for Teachers and Lecturers across Scotland to enrol in. Further subject-specific guidance on producing estimates is set to be released over the next few weeks.

Higher Modern Studies, in a similar modification to National 5, will also have no Assignment in the 2020-2021 session. However, a modified Question Paper is being planned for.

Under the current planning, Higher Modern Studies would continue to have two Question Papers. Paper 1, as usual, will last 1 hour and 45 minutes, with candidates still expected to complete three extended responses (2 x 20 mark essays, and 1 x 12 mark essay). Paper 2 will remain the same – 1 hour and 15 minutes for candidates to address three source questions, totalling 28 marks.

However, in a slight modification to Paper 1, the SQA has confirmed that further optionality will exist for candidates in all sections. These modifications will see candidates offered a choice four (rather than three) questions in Section 1 (‘Democracy in Scotland and the UK’) of the Question Paper, while Sections 2 and 3 will each have three questions (rather than two each) for candidates to choose from.

Finally, in Advanced Higher Modern Studies, the SQA’s current planning will see little changes for candidates. The 50-mark Dissertation goes ahead as usual, with the approved 2020-2021 titles list already available on the SQA website, while a 3-hour SQA Question Paper is also being planned for.

The only adjustment to Advanced Higher Modern Studies will be in the Question Paper, were each topic area will now feature a choice of two extended response questions, with candidates continuing to answer two questions from separate topics. The methodology and source questions will remain unchanged.

Book now for Conference 2020

Owing to the current public health situation with COVID-19, and the restrictions place on public gatherings as a consequence, it’s not possible to hold the Modern Studies Association (MSA) Annual Conference in the usual way.

However, given that Annual Conference serves as a key CLPL opportunity for Modern Studies Teachers across Scotland, the MSA National Committee decided earlier this year to move Annual Conference to a virtual platform. It was decided that Conference should, if possible, be held via our website on Saturday 7th November 2020.

Today (5th October 2020), we’re pleased to confirm that bookings are now being taken for the MSA’s 2020 Virtual Conference. Conference is free for PGDE students, although a £10 flat fee applies for all other attendees. This cost covers the purchase of new software and the time put in to develop Virtual Conference.

As part of the day’s agenda, we are delighted to announce that Professor Chris Carman, Lecturer in Politics at the University of Glasgow, will deliver one of our keynote presentations. He will be looking at the results of the 2020 US Presidential election that will be held just days before Conference. Meanwhile, John Porter from the SQA will deliver a presentation about senior-phase Modern Studies attainment, and stallholders – including Bright Red, CND, Greenpeace, Hodder Education, Leckie and Leckie, Modernity Scotland, and the Scottish Youth Parliament – will be sharing resources and available via live chat on the day.

Bookings for Virtual Conference have now closed.

MSA contributes to OECD review of CfE

Earlier this month, the Modern Studies Association (MSA) fed into a response produced by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society to the OECD’s ongoing Independent Review for the Curriculum for Excellence.

The Royal Scottish Geographical Society were looking for Social Subjects submissions for a wider response to the OECD Independent Review into the Curriculum for Excellence, with the MSA input furthering that of SATH and SAGT.

Among some of the highlights included in our submission were that:

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MSA response to SQA’s 2021 assessment proposals

The Modern Studies Association (MSA) has today (23rd August) published our response to the SQA’s ongoing consultation on how assessments for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher Modern Studies could look for the 2020-2021 session.

On 14th August, the SQA published proposed amendments to the way candidates be assessed in the 2020-2021 session, given the ongoing COVID-19, and potential for future disruption to learning and teaching across the country.

Alongside a technical guidance document, which sets out the SQA’s proposed assessment arrangements for all NQ courses, interested parties have also been invited to complete an online consultation. The deadline for completing this online consultation is 24th August.

As part of the proposed adjustments for National 5 Modern Studies, the SQA is suggesting that candidates are given further optionality in six mark questions. The SQA’s technical guidance suggests that there will be two options for each 6-mark question in next year’s exam, giving candidates the opportunity to decide which one they’ll answer.

The SQA argues that optionality already exists with the 8-mark questions in National 5 Modern Studies, and that by extending this to 6-mark questions will help candidates who might have missed course content. There is no proposal to amend or otherwise remove the Assignment, at this point.

For Higher Modern Studies, the SQA is proposing that candidates are given more optionality for all sections of Paper 1. The SQA’s technical guidance proposes that there be 4 questions for Section 1 of the paper, while Sections 2 and 3 could offer candidates 3 questions.

In a similar move to National 5, the SQA proposes that no changes are necessary for the Assignment, which “lends itself to blended learning”, according to the technical guidance document. There are no proposals to change Paper 2 of Higher Modern Studies.

At Advanced Higher, the SQA now proposes that candidates are offered two extended response questions for each topic, with candidates still expected to complete two separate topics. There are no proposed amendments to the methodology questions or dissertation.

Those interested can access the SQA’s technical guidance document here, while the survey can be completed via this link.

The MSA’s response to the consultation was agreed at a National Committee meeting on 22nd August, with the full text of our response shown below.

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SQA Results Day 2020: Attainment statistics published

The SQA has today (4th August) published attainment data for Modern Studies, as candidates across the country receive their results by e-mail, post and text message.

Given the public health situation, this year has been like no other for candidates and teachers across the country, with exams cancelled for the first time ever.

As part of the alternative arrangements for certification this session, the SQA asked centres to produce estimated bands for all of their candidates, refine these bands, and then rank candidates within each refined band.

Today, as part of the attainment data published by the SQA, the extent of the moderation undertaken around teacher estimates has been revealed for all subjects.

In National 5 Modern Studies, 40.4% of candidates were estimated an ‘A’; 24% a ‘B’; 24.3% a ‘C’; 7.9% a ‘D’; and, 3.3% were estimated to have achieved no award at all. The SQA has moderated these to: 31.5%, 24.3%, 20.6%, 13.9%, and 9.8%.

At Higher, 43.5% of Modern Studies candidates were estimated an ‘A’; 25.6% were estimated a ‘B’; 21.3% a ‘C’; 6% a ‘D’; and, 2.6% were estimated to have not achieved an award. The SQA ended up awarding 35.7% of candidates an ‘A’; 24.8% a ‘B’; 19.2% received a ‘C’; 11.8% a ‘D’; and, 8.5% failed.

Teachers estimated that of Advanced Higher candidates, 40.1% would achieve an ‘A’; 30.8% a ‘B’; 20.9% a ‘C’; 5.9% a ‘D’; and 2.4% would receive no award. The SQA’s moderation changed these to 33.5%, 29%, 19.4%, 10.4% and 7.7%, respectively.

You can read the SQA’s moderation report for each level by clicking the links below.

Members’ Area is up and running – create an account now

Earlier this year, we announced that the Modern Studies Association (MSA) had set a new membership record. This announcement clearly encouraged colleagues the length and breadth of Scotland to join the MSA to ensure that our voice is heard at all levels of the Scottish education system.

This much welcomed rally of support brought down our website, meaning delayed membership applications and a non-functioning Members’ Area. Since then, our website administrator, Scott Campbell, has been hard at work, and the problem has now been resolved. In order to be GDPR compliant though, previous Members’ Area accounts have been deactivated, meaning members are invited to create their own accounts via the ‘Join’ page on our website.

Thank you to all members for your patience as we worked to resolve this issue and provide the best website possible for our 600 members. You can create your own account through the ‘Join’ page on our website.

MSET highlights 2018 Modern Studies exam successes

Congratulations to Roisin Craig, a pupil at Stewarton Academy, who achieved the highest mark in Scotland in the SQA Higher Modern Studies exam. Roisin was presented with a certificate from the Modern Studies Educational Trust by her class teacher Ms MacGlade and Head Teacher Mrs Hegarty.

Congratulations to Phoebe O’Toole who achieved the highest mark in the SQA 2018 Higher Modern Studies exam. Phoebe was presented with a certificate from the Modern Studies Educational Trust by her class teachers. Phoebe was one of nine pupils across the country who scored full marks in the Higher Modern Studies exam.

Record membership for the MSA

The Modern Studies Association (MSA) is proud to announce that as of today (31 August), we have surpassed what was our highest membership level on record.

As of this update’s publication, the MSA has over 450 members – all of whom are current Modern Studies Teachers, working in schools the length and breadth of Scotland.

Founded in 1971, the MSA aims to provide Modern Studies Teachers with advice, collaboration, support and opportunities to participate in CPD events, membership of the MSA is completely free.

Once signed up, MSA members can expect to receive regular news updates, invitations to CPD events such as Annual Conference and a login to a Members’ Area with hundreds of ready-to-use resources.

Anybody wishing to join the MSA can do so by clicking this link and filling in the form.


Welcome to the MSA’s new website

Welcome to the brand new website of the Modern Studies Association.

We hope that you enjoy our new look. It has been specially designed to work better across all devices. The new website also features a brand new Member’s Login – with each member of the MSA to receive their own unique login in due course.