The change from a largely one-teacher approach in primary to a system based on a weekly timetable offering a wide range of subjects with different teachers and change of classrooms is a major feature of the transfer from P7 to S1. As a result, schools give a high priority to areas of pastoral and curricular liaison between primary and secondary.
The primary school years and the early years of secondary are now seen as a continuum in terms of what and how children learn. This is called the Broad General Phase of education under Curriculum for Excellence. There is a great deal of contact between primary and secondary to ensure a smooth transition from one system to another. Our subject departments, especially English and mathematics, liaise regularly with their colleagues in primary when planning their S1 and S2 courses.
In first year, pupils are allocated to register classes of roughly equal size (max. 30 per class). Information from our partner primary schools is used to achieve gender, ability and geographical balance within each class. These mixed-ability classes are further sub-divided into practical classes (max. 20 per class).
Pupils are taught either by register class for certain subjects such as history, geography and modern languages or by practical class for other subjects such as science, art, music, computing, home economics and craft, design and technology.
The standard approach in S1 to S3 is that of mixed-ability teaching, deploying such techniques as direct teaching, group-work, active learning and resource-based learning. Setting according to ability takes place in mathematics. Regular assessments are used to diagnose how each pupil is progressing and whether pupils can advance to more demanding work or whether further supportive work is required. Our curriculum takes full account of the guidelines issued under Curriculum for Excellence. The experiences and outcomes outlined are fully embraced, giving all pupils the opportunity to respond to the challenge of learning and applying their skills and knowledge across the curriculum. Literacy, numeracy and health & wellbeing are embraced in all departments. We also aim increasingly to give pupils opportunities to develop choice within their curriculum, and to create increasingly personalised programmes of study.
Our S1 course consists of English (four periods), French (three periods), mathematics (four periods), geography, history and modern studies (four periods), science (three periods), physical education (two periods) and one period each of craft, design & technology, home economics, art & design, music, computing, RME and PSE.
CHOOSING SUBJECTS FOR S3 and THE SENIOR PHASE
In the second term of S2, each pupil is asked to make a choice of subjects to follow during S3. As this choice is of importance for the rest of the pupil’s school life, and indeed for later life as well, it is necessary for the choice to be based on the best available information. The S3 Curriculum has been designed to provide all of our pupils with a broad and balanced educational experience as they come to the end of the Broad General Education phase.
In the second term of S3, each pupil is asked to make a further choice of subjects to follow into S4, the first year of the Senior Phase.
At course choice time, the Guidance Department organises a full programme of information for pupils and parents:
· A Course Choice Booklet is issued to pupils. This gives details of National Qualifications, as well as information about careers and advice about the choice process.
· This Booklet is studied with pupils as part of the S2 PSE programme.
· Pupils are encouraged to seek further information from class teachers.
· Principal Teachers explain the courses to the pupils.
· A Parents’ Information Evening is held in the school to provide background information and advice to parents in supporting pupils with course choice.
· Reports are sent to parents from subject departments.
· A Parents’ Evening enables parents and teachers to discuss the most suitable choice of subjects.