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Broad general education

Curriculum for Excellence is divided into two phases: the broad general education and the senior phase. The broad general education begins in early learning and childcare (at age 3) and continues to the end of S3 (the third year of secondary school). Its purpose is to develop the knowledge, skills, attributes and capabilities of the four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence:

  • Successful learners
  • Confident individuals
  • Responsible citizens
  • Effective contributors

It is designed to provide the breadth and depth of education to develop flexible and adaptable young people with the knowledge and skills they will need to thrive now and in the future. It aims to support young people in achieving and attaining the best they possibly can.

During the broad general education, children and young people should:

  • achieve the highest possible levels of literacy, numeracy and cognitive skills
  • develop skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work
  • develop knowledge and understanding of society, the world and Scotland's place in it
  • experience challenge and success so that they can develop well-informed views and the four capacities.

Learning in the broad general education phase

There are eight curriculum areas: expressive arts, health and wellbeing, languages (including English, Gàidhlig and Gaelic learners and modern languages), mathematics, religious and moral studies, sciences, social studies and technologies.

Each curriculum area is planned using experiences and outcomes. These describe the knowledge, skills, attributes and capabilities of the four capacities that young people are expected to develop.

Curriculum for Excellence Benchmarks set out clear statements about what learners need to know and be able to do to achieve a level in Literacy and English and Numeracy and Mathematics.

Learning in the broad general education may often span a number of curriculum areas (for example, a literacy project planned around science and technology might include outdoor learning experiences, research and the use of ICT). This is likely to be in the form of themed or project learning which provides children and young people opportunities to show how skills and knowledge can be applied in interesting contexts. The term often used for this is interdisciplinary learning.

The senior phase, from S4 to S6 (from around ages 15 to 18), follows a young person's broad general education, building firmly on the experiences and outcomes they will have experienced and achieved by the end of S3. It enables them to extend and deepen their learning and continue to develop skills for learning, life and work, through qualifications and also through a range of opportunities for personal development (for example work placements and volunteering).

Key documents

PDF file: CfE Briefing 1: Broad general education in the secondary school (1.8 MB)

PDF file: CfE Briefing 6: Progression from the broad general education to the senior phase, part 1 (433 KB)

PDF file: CfE Briefing 7: Progression from the broad general education to the senior phase, part 2 (785 KB)

PDF file: CfE Briefing 8: Progression from the broad general education to the senior phase, part 3 (638 KB)

PDF file: CfE Briefing 11: Planning for learning 1 - Through the broad general education (623 KB)

PDF file: Curriculum for Excellence through outdoor learning (1.03 MB)

Related links

Curriculum for Excellence - Scotland's curriculum for children and young people

Early learning and childcare

Senior phase

Scotland's Creative Learning Plan - a national plan for creativity endorsed by the Scottish Government and Scotland’s national learning organisations.

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