Skip to content

Curriculum for excellence

Curriculum for Excellence is Scotland’s national curriculum.

It provides a coherent and inclusive curriculum from 3-18 years wherever learning is taking place including: early childhood centres, schools, colleges and community learning.

There are five levels and these are flexible, depending on pupils’ needs and abilities:

  1. Early - the pre-school years and P1 or later for some
  2. First - to the end of P4, but earlier or later for some
  3. Second - to the end of P7, but earlier or later for some. We work closely within our education groups and P7 pupils and parents to facilitate the transition from primary to secondary school.
  4. Third and fourth - S1 to S3. S3 marks the end of the broad general education phase and is a time when pupils choose courses which will lead to national qualifications. The fourth level broadly equates to Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework level 4. The fourth level experiences and outcomes are intended to provide possibilities for choice and young people’s programme will not include all of the fourth level outcomes.
  5. Senior phase - S4 to S6, and college or other forms of study.  In S6, pupils will have opportunities to study programmes involving independent and blended learning with partners from higher and further education and the business community

Learning and teaching

S1-S3 curriculum

From pre-school to the end of S3, pupils receive a broad general education, giving them the skills and experiences to become:

  1. successful learners
  2. confident individuals
  3. responsible citizens
  4. effective contributors in school, their community and in life

These are known as the four capacities.

Learning experiences outside the classroom are also encouraged, helping to link lessons to real life. Most learners at the third level will progress into the fourth level before the end of S3, laying strong foundations for more specialised learning.

Learners are provided with a broad, balanced set of experiences designed around the curriculum areas of:

  • languages and literacy
  • mathematics and numeracy
  • health and wellbeing
  • religious and moral education
  • social studies
  • sciences
  • technologies
  • expressive arts

The core curriculum consists of literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing. These permeate and underpin learning in all other curricular areas. Attainment and achievement in these areas are regularly assessed and reviewed by the school to ensure standards are maintained or improved.

Senior phase: S4-S6 curriculum

Those in the senior phase will have options to study that reflect their abilities and aspirations. These include or combine staying on at school, going to college, or university, work or community-based learning and volunteering.

These options offer the opportunity to study for qualifications and enhance skills important to their success in learning, life and work.

In addition to new qualifications developed by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) which support the Curriculum for Excellence, young people can achieve qualifications from a wider range of providers and more flexible study options now include:

  • being able to take qualifications over one or two years
  • taking National 4 and 5 qualifications in S4, S5 and S6 or, possibly
  • bypassing these and working directly towards Highers

Qualification levels and progression

Qualification Framework
SCQF LevelCurrent LevelProgression
Level 1 National 1 National 2 (N2)
Level 2 National 2 National 3 (N3)
Level 3 National 3 National 4 (N4)
Level 4 National 4 National 5 (N5)
Level 5 National 5 National 6 (N6)
Level 6 National 6 (Higher) National 7 (N7) (Advanced Higher)
Level 7 National 7 National 8 (N8)

Learners are given opportunities to develop skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work with a continuous focus on:

  • enterprise and creativity
  • citizenship and international education
  • literacy
  • numeracy
  • health and wellbeing
  • sustainable development
  • digital technology

Personal support/career planning

From 3-18 years, learners are supported to achieve their full potential and, as they progress through broad general education into senior phase, to plan and prepare for further learning, training or employment.

As a key part of developing the young workforce in East Ayrshire, vocational learning, including work experience and other work-based learning; entrepreneurial and business links; and partnerships with Skills Development Scotland, universities and colleges, complement the work done in schools to develop skills in young people that prepare them effectively for the world of work.

Assessment and reporting

Assessment is an important part of the Curriculum for Excellence and, at all levels, pupils’ progress is closely monitored by teachers and staff.

In turn, teachers and staff will work with pupils reflecting on their results, looking at their strengths and learning needs, agreeing next steps and action based on these.

As they progress, pupils become more involved in this process, as they develop the skills to make effective judgments on their own learning - developing personal expertise that will be important to them throughout life.

Testing and assessment also helps teachers plan learning experiences which are motivating and challenging.

Children who may have additional support needs, or who require a co-ordinated support plan will be assessed in a way suited to their individual requirements. 

Further information is available from the Head of Establishment at your child’s school.

Class size policy

Currently, the maximum number of children in classes is:

Classroom Capacities
Primary 1 25
Primary 2 and Primary 3 30
Primary 4 to Primary 7 33

Composite classes

The exception to this is a composite class, which has a maximum size of 25. A composite class is one in which children from two or more years are grouped together (for example, Primary 2 and Primary 3) or, in some small schools three years may be grouped together.

Find out more about composite classes

Early childhood centres

Early Childhood Centres are registered with the Care Inspectorate for a maximum number of children in specific age ranges and this varies from centre to centre.

Contact Information

Drag your contacts in here.