Curriculum for Excellence

Curriculum Design

Developing Skills and Attributes

The curriculum aims to ensure that all children and young people in Scotland develop the attributes, knowledge and skills they will need to flourish in life, learning and work. This is encapsulated in the four capacities – to enable each child or young person to be a successful learner, a confident individual, a responsible citizen and an effective contributor.

The experiences and outcomes are a set of statements which describe the expectations for learning and progression for each of the eight curriculum areas.  The title ‘experiences and outcomes’ recognises the importance of the quality and nature of the learning experience in developing attributes and capabilities and in achieving active engagement, motivation and depth of learning. An outcome represents what is to be achieved.The experiences and outcomes for each curriculum area build in the attributes and capabilities which support the development of the four capacities. This means that, taken together across curriculum areas, the experiences and outcomes contribute to the attributes and capabilities leading to the four capacities.

The Four Capacities

The curriculum aims for all children to become:• Successful Learners
• Confident Individuals
• Responsible Citizens
• Effective Contributors

The Seven Principles of Curriculum Design

All learning must take account of these principles:

• Challenge and Enjoyment
• Breadth
• Progression
• Depth
• Personalisation and Choice
• Coherence
• Relevance

The Eight Curriculum Areas

Containing a range of subjects:

  • Expressive Arts – including art and design, dance, drama and music
  • Health and Wellbeing – mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing, physical education, food and health, substance misuse and relationships, sexual health and parenthood
  • Languages – listening and talking, reading and writing in literacy and English and modern languages, plus classical languages and literacy and Gàidhlig/Gaelic learners (where available)
  • Mathematics – including analysing information, solving problems and assessing risk
  • Religious and Moral Education (denominational and non-denominational) – learning about Christianity, other world religions, and developing values and beliefs
  • Sciences – understanding important scientific concepts across planet Earth, forces, electricity and waves, biological systems, materials and topical science
  • Social Studies – understanding people, place and society in the past and present including history, geography, modern studies and business education
  • Technologies – including computing science, food, textiles, craft, design, engineering, graphics and applied technologies
In addition there are three key areas which are covered by all teachers/practitioners:

  • Literacy across learning – talking, listening, reading and writing (including using digital communications)
  • Numeracy across learning – including money, time, and measurement
  • Health and Wellbeing across learning – including making informed choices for a healthy lifestyle

Important themes across the curriculum are creativity, enterprise and global citizenship, which includes sustainable development, international education and citizenship.

Experiences and Outcomes

Each curriculum area is broken down to a set of experiences and outcomes (often referred to as the ‘Es and Os’):

  • Experience – describes the learning.
  • Outcome – what the learning will achieve. This is often explained, from the pupil’s perspective, as an ‘I can’ statement.

Curriculum Levels

There are national levels to describe different stages of learning and progress. For most* children, the expectation  is:

  • Early Level – pre-school to the end of P1.
  • First Level – to the end of P4.
  • Second Level – to the end of P7.
  • Third and Fourth Levels – S1 to S3, with the fourth level broadly equivalent to SCQF level 4.
  • Senior Phase (see Entitlements) – S4 to S6, and equivalents in other settings, where they can continue to develop the four capacities and achieve qualifications.

*but can be earlier/later for some as applicable, depending upon individual needs and aptitudes.


All young people are entitled to:

  •  A coherent curriculum – smooth progression through the experiences and outcomes.
  • A broad general education – the period from age 3 to the end of S3, covering all of the experiences and outcomes across all curriculum areas up to and including the third level, and further experiences and outcomes at the fourth level, chosen to provide greater specialisation and depth.
  • Support – assistance to help learners access the curriculum, for example because of short – or longer-term needs or circumstances, and help to build resilience.
  • Skills for learning, life and work – to develop pre-vocational, enterprising and employability skills, personal skills, high levels of cognitive skills and the opportunity to put learning into a practical context.
  • A senior phase – to prepare for qualifications and develop skills for future learning, life and work.
  • Positive destinations – to support young people to move successfully on to work or further study

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