An overview of the Scottish education system
Scotland has its own qualification framework that is separate from the one set for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but each one is recognised around the UK. England and Wales follow the National Curriculum (with the exception of the Foundation Phase in Wales), Northern Ireland follows the Northern Ireland Curriculum and Scotland follows the Curriculum for Excellence (also known as the CfE) for nursery, primary and secondary schools.
Children in Scotland complete seven years of primary school, starting in P1 (the equivalent of Reception classes in England), going up to P7 (the equivalent of Year 7 in England). After this, they do six years of secondary school from S1 to S6 (equivalent to Y8 to Y13 in England). Secondary schools in Scotland are also known as high schools or academies.
What is the Curriculum for Excellence?
The Curriculum for Excellence is a major educational reform with the aim of providing a wider, more flexible range of courses and subjects. As the Scottish government only sets guidelines about the school curriculum, schools needn’t stick to rigid learning paths and can make their own decisions on what to teach pupils.
There are three core subjects that schools must ensure are taught: health and wellbeing, literacy and numeracy. Other than that, they’re free to:
- introduce projects that use skills and knowledge from more than one subject, leading to joined-up learning
- teach about people and places from their local area
- ask pupils about areas they’re interested in studying
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