Introduction to pupil choices
This section is designed to assist pupils and parents in making correct curricular choices for the coming year.
The Broad General Education: S1 to S3
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 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, especially from our Pastoral team. Our Mathematics department work closely with Primary colleagues to ensure methodology, coverage of curriculum and assessments are consistent. Our English department make regular visits to our associated Primary schools to promote a reading culture.
In S1, young people are allocated to form classes of roughly equal size (maximum 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 (maximum 20 per class).
Young people are taught either by form class for certain subjects such as History, Geography and Modern Languages or by practical class for other subjects such as Science, Art, Music, Home Economics and Craft, Design and Technology.
The standard approach in S1 to S3 is that of direct teaching, group-work and active learning. Setting according to ability takes place in mathematics. Regular assessments are used to diagnose how each young person is progressing and whether young people 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 young people 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 by all faculties. We also aim increasingly to give young people opportunities to develop choice within their curriculum, and to create increasingly personalised programmes of study.
Our S2/3 course consists of English, Mathematics, PE, RME, PSE and nine other subjects of the young person’s choice, including at least one subject from each curriculum area. This makes up an interesting, varied and balanced group of subjects.
Moving into the Senior Phase – S4 to S6
As young people move into S4, inevitably SQA examinations will become more important and they will move on to a study of National Qualification courses. Young people will choose a curriculum in S4 which allows them to follow courses of study in a range of areas. They will also be able to follow increasingly personalised courses of study, including, where appropriate, extended work experience, courses in association with colleges and also links with the local community.
Accordingly, the Pastoral Team organises a full programme of information for S3 young people at this point:
- A Course Choice Booklet is published on the school website, giving details of National Qualification courses, as well as information about careers and advice about the choice process.
- This Booklet is studied with young people as part of the S3 PSE programme.
- Young people are encouraged to seek further information from class teachers.
- A Parents’ Information Evening is held in the school to provide background information and advice to parents in supporting young people with course choice.
- Reports are sent to parents from subject departments.
- A Parents’ Evening enables parents and teachers to discuss progress within individual subjects.
As young people move further into the Senior Phase, in S5 and S6, they will study for Highers and Advanced Highers, and also continue to study for National awards. We aim to have young people follow a diverse programme of study, increasingly tailored to their specific needs.
Parents are asked to note that course choices may alter according to changes in roll, staffing or policy and in line with national developments. Please note also that current courses may not be available when a young person enters S1, and options currently offered at later stages may not be provided when a young person reaches this stage in due course. In Senior Phase, it may not be possible to pursue all subjects through all levels from National 3 across the National Qualifications Framework.
Assessment and Reporting
In the phase of Broad General Education from S1 to S3, most assessment of a young person’s progress is built into normal class teaching. End of unit tests or assessments are used to assess strengths and weaknesses in their learning and are used to structure their work. These assessments are also based on various elements or skills which are central to a subject, e.g. reading, writing, talking and listening in English.
Reports to parents are therefore based upon a wide range of assessments and reports give information on progress according to the differing elements or skills appropriate to that subject. In addition, information on attendance, behavior, effort and homework is provided.
In S4 and beyond the regular, continuous ‘diagnostic’ assessment does continue as part of the normal classroom process. However, as a result of most courses in S4 to S6 leading to national certification, formal school examinations are built into the school programme including preliminary examinations, which are used as a trial run for the actual SQA examinations. These prelims also provide the evidence for Estimate grades which are sent to the SQA in March of the presentation year.