S1 – S3 The Broad General Education

Curriculum for Excellence is divided into two phases: the broad general education and the senior phase. The broad general education begins in early learning and childcare and continues to the end of S3 (the third year of secondary school). Its purpose is to develop the knowledge, skills, attributes and capabilities of the four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence:

  • Successful learners
  • Confident individuals
  • Responsible citizens
  • Effective contributors

It is designed to provide the breadth and depth of education to develop flexible and adaptable young people with the knowledge and skills they will need to thrive now and in the future. It aims to support young people in achieving and attaining the best they possibly can.

Curriculum is defined as the totality of all that is planned for children and young people from early learning and childcare, through school and beyond. Children’s and young people’s learning should be planned for and experienced across the four contexts.

During the broad general education, children and young people should:

  • achieve the highest possible levels of literacy, numeracy and cognitive skills;
  • develop skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work;
  • develop knowledge and understanding of society, the world and Scotland’s place in it, much of which is now included in Learning for Sustainability;
  • experience challenge and success so that they can develop well-informed views and the four capacities.

First Year

In first year, pupils will see lots of new subjects e.g. Computing, Design, Engineering and Technology, Food and Textile Technology. However, few subjects will be starting from scratch. Most subjects are a continuation of work begun in Primary School and are based on the Learning Experiences and Outcomes outlined in a Curriculum for Excellence.

All pupils do the same subjects in first and second year. In first year these are:


  • Art
  • Design, Engineering and Technology
  • Drama
  • English
  • Food and Textile Technology
  • French
  • Information Technology
  • Maths
  • Music
  • Personal and Social Education
  • Physical Education
  • Religious and Moral Education
  • Science
  • Social Subjects

In addition, as part of our CfE provision, pupils in S1 and S2 are given 1 period each week of Personal Choice, where they choose the activity. In this period they can select from a wide range of interesting options e.g.

  • Environmental art
  • Technology Challenges
  • Design and Make
  • Small scale drama production
  • Food of the world
  • And many more…

Over the course of the year pupils mix with pupils from other classes and select 3 different activities from a menu of activities.

In all of the subjects, pupils will experience the wider themes of Literacy, Numeracy and Health and Well-Being.

Year 6 at work in business studies.

Second Year

In second year, pupils will continue with the Broad General Education. However, there are some changes to the subjects studied.

Instead of science, pupils will study seperate sciences: Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

Instead of integrated social studies course, pupils study seperate social subjects: History, Geography and Modern Studies.

These changes are designed to help pupils progress more effectively, to increase achievement and to help pupils prepare for the Review of Learning. (Add a button to learn more about the Review of Learning)

At the end of second year the Review of Learning enables all pupils, parents and teachers to look at progress in every subject and identify areas of strength. This review allows pupils and parents to talk about personal strengths and prefereences and identify subjects where the pupil is most likely to succeed. This process helps prepare them for the Personalisation and Choice they are given in S3.

Third Year

In the third year, pupils carry on with the Broad General Education. However, rather than carry on with every subject, they are given the opportunity to specialise within each curricular area and so achieve richness and depth in their learning.

There are 8 curricular areas in the Broad General Education: Languages, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Expressive Arts, Technology, Religious Education and Health and Well-Being.

In third year, all pupils will study languages, mathematics, religious education and health and well-being. Within each of the other curricular areas above, pupils select one subject. This allows them to carry on with the Broad General Education, but also lets them specialise in areas of strength.

An additional column of subjects is offered so that pupils have an even wider choice. This additional column allows them to select and study a second foreign language, a second science, a second social subject, a second expressive arts subject or a second technology subject.

During the third year, there is another Review of Learning, to ensure all pupils are following the right course. Our experience is hat most pupils want to carry on with the same choice into the Senior Phase, however, additional courses may be offered at this time for those who may not be on the most appropriate pathway. This includes vocational options, (Where can they go to learn more about the vocational options?)

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