Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) is the national curriculum used in secondary schools across Scotland. It comprises of a Broad General Education (BGE) for pupils in S1-S3 and the Senior Phase for pupils in S4-S6. Emphasis is placed on inter-disciplinary learning, skill development and encouraging personal achievement. Curriculum for Excellence is intended to foster four capacities in all young people:
- 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.
Broad General Education
There are eight curriculum areas: expressive arts, health and wellbeing, languages (including English, Gàidhlig and Gaelic learners and modern languages), mathematics, religious and moral studies, sciences, social studies and technologies.
Each curriculum area is planned using experiences and outcomes. These describe the knowledge, skills, attributes and capabilities of the four capacities that young people are expected to develop.
Curriculum for Excellence Benchmarks set out clear statements about what learners need to know and be able to do to achieve a level across all curriculum areas.
Learning in the broad general education may often span a number of curriculum areas (for example, a literacy project planned around science and technology might include outdoor learning experiences, research and the use of ICT). This is likely to be in the form of themed or project learning which provides children and young people opportunities to show how skills and knowledge can be applied in interesting contexts. The term often used for this is interdisciplinary learning.
The senior phase, which takes place from S4 to S6 in schools and includes ages 16 to 18 out of school, follows a young person’s broad general education, building firmly on the experiences and outcomes they will have experienced and achieved by the end of S3. It enables them to extend and deepen their learning and continue to develop skills for learning, life and work, through qualifications and also through a range of opportunities for personal development (for example work placements and volunteering).
All young people in Scotland have an entitlement to a Senior Phase which:
- Provides specialisation, depth and rigour.
- Prepares them well for achieving qualifications to the highest level of which they are capable.
- Continues to develop skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work.
- Continues to provide a range of activities which develop the four capacities.
- Supports them to achieve a positive and sustained destination.
The senior phase follows a young person’s broad general education, building firmly on the experiences and outcomes they will have experienced and achieved by the end of S3. It enables them to extend and deepen their learning.
The curriculum framework and the qualifications system will provide a range of opportunities to meet the needs of all learners, whether aspiring to achievements at SCQF level 1 or at SCQF level 7.
The curriculum in the senior phase comprises more than programmes which lead to qualifications. There is a continuing emphasis, for example, on health and wellbeing appropriate to this phase, including physical activity and opportunities for personal achievement, service to others and practical experience of the world of work.
In order to deliver this breadth of learning, schools are designing and delivering a bespoke three-year senior phase jointly with a range of key partners, including colleges, employers, universities and Community Learning and Development, and are bringing parents and carers on board with curriculum options from an early stage.
Insight is a major benchmarking tool designed to help bring improvements for pupils in the Senior Phase. It is a professional tool to support secondary schools and local authorities in analysing the performance of learners across agreed measures and in developing their curriculum accordingly.