The new national curriculum, “Curriculum for Excellence” (CfE), was introduced into schools from August 2010. The purpose of the new curriculum is to help young people become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. This means that there have been some changes in terms of curricular content but the main differences are in relation to the ways in which children learn in the classroom. Teachers in St Matthew’s are working hard to make sure that the transition to secondary school is a smooth one and we are constantly looking at the subjects we offer at all levels and how these link into the experience which children have had in their primary schools.

S1 – S3 In the early years of secondary school, we are looking to ensure that young people get a broad general educational experience across eight curricular areas:

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

These curricular areas are currently delivered through a subject structure although we are looking at how to enhance understanding by helping children to see the links between what they are learning in each subject through the provision of opportunities for inter-disciplinary work. Opportunities for young people to deepen their knowledge within curricular areas will be retained by offering some element of choice at the end of S2.

Classes in S1/2 will continue to be formed generally on a mixed-ability basis. It is also expected that “practical” classes in S1/2 will continue to contain an average of 20 pupils in line with the guidance received from the Scottish Government Education Department.

By the end of S3, all young people should have a solid foundation which will allow them to progress to formal qualifications in what is known as the “senior phase” of their education. This will be achieved by providing opportunities for learning in depth in chosen areas at the S1 – S3 stage. Parents will be given appropriate opportunities to be involved in their children’s education throughout S1 – S3 and beyond.

S4 – S6 The “senior phase” of CfE is where the young people will become involved with the formal qualifications framework and receive certification similar to that provided by the Scottish Qualifications Authority at the moment. The curriculum at this stage will still address the 8 curricular areas outlined above although there will be increasing opportunity for specialisation and personalisation through choice of courses of study; in that regard, there will be many similarities to the way in which the certification years operate at the moment. Again, the emphasis of CfE is not to significantly change “what” young people are learning but to improve “how” they learn.

Detailed guidelines on the new National Qualifications were published earlier this year which means that new structures in the senior phase will be well established before the S1 cohort of 2013-14 reach S4. Parents should be aware that Higher Grade will remain as the benchmark examination and that the new qualifications which are being developed will integrate with this.

In addition to following courses leading to certification, all pupils will undertake general courses in Religious Education and Personal & Social Education at all stages throughout the school.