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S4 Curriculum

The Curriculum

In S1/S3 pupils have followed a curriculum structured into eight learning areas, as shown in the diagram below.

















The end of S3, however, marks the transition from a Broad General Education into the Senior Phase.  


Senior Phase

In the Senior Phase of the curriculum (S4-S6), learners will in the main be working towards the new National Qualifications.  These qualifications will include new qualifications at levels 1-5, the new Higher and the new Advanced Higher. In addition, Baccalaureates, currently available in Science, Languages and Social Studies, will be available.    Opportunities will also exist for learners to recognise wider achievements and continue to develop skills for later learning, life and work.  In the Senior Phase a smaller number of subjects will be studied but in more depth.  Pupils are therefore asked to make choices at the end of S3 which reflect their interests and future aspirations.


In addition to their six chosen courses each pupil in S4 will follow a core curriculum comprised of the following elements:











Pathways in S4

In S4 pupils will, in the main, follow any one of the following pathways in particular curriculum areas depending on their rate of progress up to the end of S3:



In addition, some Faculties will offer opportunities for young people to study towards other programmes of work which recognise wider achievements:



Skills for Work courses encourage learners to become familiar with the world of work and National Progression Awards assess skills and knowledge in specialist vocational areas and are designed to prepare learners for employment or progression to further study.


At Bell Baxter we aim to ensure that learners and parents develop a shared understanding of how each individual is coping with the demands of each part of their curriculum in order that we can offer detailed guidance as to which of these pathways will lead to success in S4 and then to progression in S5.  S3 Reports and course choice advice form part of that guidance.


Faculties will analyse the results of all assessments and records of achievement up to the end of S3, in order to decide on the best pathway for each learner.


Pupils may be following six options which could be all at the same level, for example, six National 5 courses, or a combination of levels of National Courses, e.g. three at National 4, two at National 5 and their options may also include Skills for Work, progression awards and stand alone units.


Whilst learners have six option choices we would strongly recommend that in S4 all pupils continue with their learning in the areas of English and Mathematics.


Supporting the Option Process

The formal options process starts with the issue of the booklet to pupils, however, much work has already been undertaken throughout the session prior to this.


In Social Education learners have undertaken a six week programme researching and discussing possible pathways for their future.  This has included input from Skills Development Scotland staff (S.D.S.) and an introduction to a website known as “My World of Work”.   The focus has been on career options, choices and pathways.  Pupils have also been offered a one-to-one interview with one of our Careers Coaches.  


Pupils will have had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with this booklet in Social Education.   In addition, each learner will also have the opportunity to discuss his or her options with a course counsellor - a member of the House Head team.  The school attaches great importance to the individual counselling of pupils.


In addition, there have been built in opportunities for learners to discuss their options with subject specialists within Faculties.


Summary of Process






S4 Curriculum Summary

Six Options (i.e. six national Qualifications or a combination of National Qualifications and Skills for Work courses or Awards)

Core Physical Education / Physical Activity

Core Religious and Moral Education / Social Education

November/December 2016

Discussion in Social Education

(New Qualifications Pathways Careers)

January 2017

Issue of S3 Reports

6th February

Assembly led by Depute Rector

Week beginning 20th February

- Issue of Pathway Option Booklet and   Option Sheet

- Discussion in Social Education

Friday 3rd March

Deadline: Return of Option Sheet

Thursday 9th March

Course Counselling Day

Tuesday 6th June

Start of new 2017/2018 timetable

S4 Pathways Booklet SCQF S4 Option Form Subject Descriptors