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 Catalog-Item Reuse

Senior phase

​All learners are entitled to experience a senior phase where they can continue to develop the four capacities and achieve qualifications.

All young people in Scotland have an entitlement to a senior phase of education which:

  • provides specialisation, depth and rigour
  • prepares them well for achieving qualifications to the highest level of which they are capable
  • continues to develop skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work
  • continues to provide a range of activities which develop the four capacities
  • supports them to achieve a positive and sustained destination.

The senior phase, which takes place from S4 to S6 in schools and includes ages 16 to 18 out of school, is the phase when the young person will build up a portfolio of qualifications. It is the stage of education at which the relationship between the curriculum and National Qualifications becomes of key significance.

The curriculum framework and the qualifications system will provide a range of opportunities to meet the needs of all learners, whether aspiring to achievements at SCQF level 1 or at SCQF level 7.

The curriculum in the senior phase comprises more than programmes which lead to qualifications. There is a continuing emphasis, for example, on health and wellbeing appropriate to this phase, including physical activity and opportunities for personal achievement, service to others and practical experience of the world of work.

Find out more about the purpose of the curriculum and the four capacities.

Insight: Benchmarking for Excellence

Insight is a major online benchmarking tool designed to help bring about improvements for pupils in the senior phase (S4 to S6). It is a professional tool to support secondary schools and local authorities in analysing the performance of learners across agreed measures.

Insight was developed by the Scottish Government in partnership with Education Scotland, Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), Association of Directors of Education Scotland (ADES), Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) and School Leaders Scotland (SLS). 

The tool went live in August 2014 and was made available to all teaching staff in secondary schools, local authorities and Education Scotland. The Scottish Government website has more information on the Senior Phase Benchmarking Tool.

Key documents

The CfE Briefings 6-8 cover Progression from the broad general education to the senior phase, parts 1-3:

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: Progression from the Broad General Education (BGE) to the Senior Phase – updated guidance

Related links

Senior phase learner journeys - Parentzone Scotland offers examples of senior phase learner journeys

Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) - Scotland's National Qualifications - The SQA web pages provide access to the national qualifications and related guidance and support.

16+ Learning Choices

Employability and careers

PDF file: Career Education Standard (3-18) - This document outlines the entitlement for learners and expectations on practitioners, employers, parents/carers and Skills Development Scotland. 

PDF file: Career Education Standard (3-18) (Gaelic) (1.2 MB)

Work Placements Standard - This document outlines the extended scope of work-based learning opportunities children and young people should be able to access in order to enhance their employability skills.

PDF file: Work Placements Standard (Gaelic) (1.4 MB)

School employer partnerships - Enhanced partnerships will lead to collaborative career education approaches.

Senior phase pathways - A number of resources are now available on the National Improvement Hub.

CLPL resources - Now available on the National Improvement Hub to support professional development in this area.

Career Information, Advice and Guidance in Scotland - A Framework for Service Redesign and Improvement March 2011.

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