S3 is a very important year of study: it is the final year of the Broad General Education in Curriculum for Excellence and prepares the way for certification of national awards from S4.

What is the Broad General Education?

In Curriculum for Excellence, S1 to S3 is seen as a phase in its own right, in which pupils study a broad range of courses and have a wide range of experiences. They make progress through a series of levels, as shown below:

Curriculum level          Stage

Early                            Pre-school to P1

First                             P2 to end P4

Second                        P5 to end P7

Third and Fourth         S1-S3 (Fourth level aligns to National 4 qualifications)

Senior Phase              S4 to S6 in school, college, workplace or community.

Our aim is that pupils should, as far as possible, complete the third level in all their subjects by the end of S2, allowing them to go on to more in-depth study of certain areas at level 4 in S3.

What is the Senior Phase?

In Curriculum for Excellence, S4 to S6 is also seen as a phase in its own right, one in which pupils make further choices of programmes of study, leading on to the gaining of qualifications. This will affect your child as s/he moves into S4 in June 2015.

What are the National Qualifications?

  •  National 3 is assessed by teachers and is not graded. It is pass/fail and is based on units carried out during the year.
  • National 4 is assessed by teachers and is not graded. It is pass/fail and is based on units carried out during the year. It also includes an added value unit, which may take the form of a written task, a performance, a presentation etc.
  • National 5 involves a final external assessment, usually an exam, plus other types of assessment such as coursework or performance. It is graded A, B, C or D and is marked by external SQA examiners.
  • Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications remain, though the courses are being refreshed over the next two years.

All the National Qualifications are quality-assured by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to ensure that standards and credibility are maintained.

Moving into S3 from June 2014

As noted above, your child will be moving into the final year of the Broad General Education and our aim is that s/he will follow courses of study at Level 4 of the Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes. These outcomes are what the learner is able to explain or do, based on the learning experiences and activities in the classroom.

We wish to ensure that your child:

  •  continues to follow a broad and balanced curriculum;
  • is given increasing opportunities to study some areas in greater depth;
  • is allowed to follow interests by having increasing choice and a personalised curriculum;
  • is well prepared for gaining formal SQA qualifications from S4.

How is my child being prepared for S3?

Throughout the spring term, pupils are given the opportunity to consider their subjects through personal & social education classes (PSE).  Principal teachers and subject teachers speak to pupils about their particular subjects and all S2 pupils have an individual interview with their guidance teacher.

Pupils are also given detailed information about the link between subjects and careers.  As part of their programme of careers education, pupils make use of the careers library in school and they will have been seen by the careers advisor.

What will my child study in S3?

All of our pupils will study a series of core subjects:

  •  English for four hours per week
  • Mathematics for three hours per week
  • PE for two hours per week
  • RME for one hour per week
  • PSE for one hour per week.

For the remaining sixteen hours per week, our pupils will choose to follow eight subjects. As part of this choice, all pupils will study at least one subject from each of the following curriculum areas:

  •  expressive arts
  • languages
  • sciences
  • social studies
  • technologies.

In addition, pupils will study their own choice of a further three subjects. This ensures that pupils continue to follow a broad general education, while also having an opportunity for some personalisation and choice in their curriculum.

In choosing an individual subject, there are four main points to consider:

  1.  Has my child made good progress already in the subject, i.e. is success likely in S3 and beyond?
  2. Does my child enjoy the subject?
  3. Will the subject be of value in any intended career?
  4. What did my child’s teacher say at Parents’ Evening in January?

Please note that after a final choice has been made and teaching groups allocated, it is difficult, if not impossible, to change course.  A written request for course choice alterations should be made to your child’s guidance teacher or senior management House link as early as possible.

It is also important to stress that, although a wide range of subjects are offered on the choices sheet, certain subjects may have to be withdrawn due to lack of demand or staffing/timetable constraints.

What about progression into S4 in 2015?

As noted above, S4 is the first year of the Senior Phase and the first year in which formal certification takes place. In S4, our pupils will continue studying six subjects, including English and mathematics. They will also continue their core PE, RME and PSE lessons. This is a change from the previous model, in which most pupils studied eight subjects in S4. Details about S4 courses can be found in the relevant Curriculum section of the school website.