Curriculum for Excellence has now been introduced across Scotland for all 3 – 18 year olds.

Principles for Curriculum Design

Schools and learning communities in Aberdeenshire apply the principles for Curriculum Design that are drawn from National advice but reflect our unique Aberdeenshire context. Those principles are:

  • Challenge and enjoyment in learning
  • Breadth of learning
  • Progression in learning
  • Depth of learning
  • Personalisation and choice e.g. in how to present learning
  • Coherence (with other areas of learning)
  • Relevance of learning

Curriculum Entitlements

The following entitlements are also provided for all pupils in Aberdeenshire Schools:

  • A coherent learning experience
  • Experiences in health and well-being
  • Cultural experiences
  • Environmental experiences
  • Vocational experiences
  • Creative and enterprising experiences

(In Aberdeenshire Schools this includes a strong focus on learning In, About and Through the environment i.e. outdoor learning.)

Structure of the Curriculum for Excellence

The Curriculum for Excellence is structured into different levels.

Early  The pre-school years and P1, or later for some.
First  To the end of P4, but earlier or later for some.
Second  To the end of P7, but earlier or later for some.
Third & Fourth S1 to S3, but earlier for some. The fourth level broadly equates to Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework level 4.The fourth level experiences and outcomes are intended to provide possibilities for choice and young people’s programmes will not include all of the fourth level outcomes.
Senior phase S4 to S6, and college or other means of study.

YEARS 1 & 2

In certain subjects and where time-tabling permits, pupils may be ‘set’ according to ability. It is expected that most young people will be working at Curriculum

Level 3 in S1- 2; however, teachers will ensure that particularly secure learners are pushed by introducing more challenging work or by offering a real world context in which to apply the skills and knowledge developed. Our policy is to have ‘no ceilings’ as to how much or how well a pupil can achieve, from their first day in S1 through to the day they leave.


Pupils will be ‘set’ according to ability in English and Mathematics. In all curriculum areas, it is expected that most young people will be working at Curriculum Level 4 in S3. Once again, teachers will strive to offer challenge and increasingly relevant contexts for all young people.

YEARS 4 – 6

Pupils will be placed in classes, according to the National Qualifications being undertaken:

 National 3 – (equivalent to Access 3 or Standard Grade Foundation)

• National 4 – a series of National Units with an Added Value Unit (equivalent to Intermediate 1 or Standard Grade: General)

• National 5 – a series of National Units with an Added Value Unit, externally assessed. (equivalent to Intermediate 2 or Standard Grade: Credit)

• Higher – a series of National Units with an Added Value Unit externally assessed. (for the purposes of comparison, Higher represents SCQF level 6)

• Advanced Higher – a series of National Units with an Added Value Unit externally assessed. (for the purposes of comparison, Advanced Higher represents SCQF level 7)

Arrangements for Pupil Choice and their Involvement in What and How they Learn

The school provides a framework for learning based upon the principles of curriculum design and curriculum entitlements. Within this, the school encourages pupils to have a say in how they learn and what they learn e.g. in topic based, the children might choose to communicate their learning through a report, a PowerPoint presentation or a piece of artwork. The pupils also might choose to research a specific aspect of information within the topic framework.

For further information on specific aspects of learning, please contact your child’s Guidance Teacher in the first instance.

Further information about Aberdeenshire’s curriculum framework can be found at:

Further information about Curriculum for Excellence can be found at

 The core curriculum consists of Literacy, Numeracy and Health and Well-Being. These subjects permeate all other curricular areas and attainment and achievement in these areas are continually scrutinised and reviewed annually by the school to ensure standards are maintained or improved.

Learners are given opportunities to develop skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work with a continuous focus on:

  • Enterprise and Creativity
  • Citizenship and International Education
  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Sustainable Development
  • Information Communication Technology (ICT)