Primary and secondary education in Scotland

Scotland has a national curriculum for primary and secondary education: the Curriculum for Excellence.

Phases in the curriculum

The complete curriculum has 5 phases (levels):

  • Early level: pre-school education and Primary 1 (P1).
  • First level: Primary 2-Primary 4 (P2-P4).
  • Second level: Primary 5-Primary 7 (P5-P7).
  • Third/fourth level: Secondary 1-Secondary 3 (S1-S3).
  • Senior phase: Secondary 4-Secondary 6 (S4-S6).

Primary education (P1-P7) and lower secondary education (S1-S3) are collectively called broad general education. Upper secondary education (S4-S6) is called the senior phase.

Curriculum areas

There are 8 different curriculum areas:

  • expressive arts;
  • health and wellbeing;
  • languages;
  • mathematics;
  • religious and moral studies;
  • sciences;
  • social studies; and
  • technologies.

Subjects are offered courses at various levels.

Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC)

Students conclude upper secondary education with exams for a Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC).

  • Duration: 3 years.
  • Content: students can choose from different subjects, the national qualification subjects. Just like in lower secondary education, students take subjects at various levels. They are allowed to take these subjects at different levels at the same time. They are sometimes permitted to skip lower levels. Their results for the subjects are listed on their diploma.
  • Diploma: Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC), awarded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

We compare a Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC) with 4 Highers to a diploma.

We compare a Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC) with 4 Highers and 2 Advanced Highers to a diploma.

Scottish baccalaureate

When a student successfully completes a specific combination of Highers and Advanced Highers and an Interdisciplinary Project, they will have attained a Scottish baccalaureate. There are 4 disciplines: expressive arts, languages, science and social sciences.