We are testing a new beta website for gov.scot go to new site

Curriculum for Excellence: Building the Curriculum 3: A Framework for Learning and Teaching


the framework at different stages of learning

The stages of learning reflect the stages of maturation of children and young people and the changing ways in which they engage with learning as they develop. The distinction between the levels and stages is interlinked; in this framework, for example, the guidance that follows covers the early level, (which covers pre-school and P1 stages), the primary stage more generally, the S1-S3 stage, followed by the senior phase.

The experiences and outcomes under Curriculum for Excellence are written at five levels, with progression to qualifications described under the senior phase. The path most young people are expected to follow through the levels during the different stages is set out below. Some children and young people will start learning at these levels earlier and others later, depending upon individual needs and aptitudes. The framework is, however designed to be flexible in order to permit careful planning for those with additional support needs, including those who, for example, have a learning difficulty and those who are particularly able or talented.

the framework at the different stages of learning




the pre-school years and P1 or later for some


to the end of P4, but earlier or later for some


To the end of P7, but earlier or later for some

Third and Fourth

S1 to S3, but earlier for some
The fourth level broadly equates to SCQF level 4

Senior phase

S4 - S6 and college or other means of study

The sections below consider the curriculum in terms of purposes, principles and practice during these stages. While children and young people should feel that the transition from one stage of learning to another is smooth, they should still be able to look forward to the excitement of starting nursery, primary school, secondary school and finally to moving on to positive and sustained destinations. These times in their lives are memorable occasions as well as stepping stones to new experiences and increasing independence. It is therefore important that in planning programmes, schools and establishments provide experiences which are familiar but introduce new aspects which will make each individual phase unique to that time in a young person's life.

Reflective Questions

  • Approaches to planning must be coherent around learning, teaching and assessment. What are the implications for your current learning, teaching and assessment policies and practices?
  • Does your curriculum provide a sufficient emphasis on active, enterprising learning approaches that encourage creativity and innovation?
  • How effectively do you make clear to learners what they are learning, what success looks like and what is expected of them? Do you provide sufficiently high quality feedback to learners about how much and how well they have learned? Are learners involved in this process?
  • What strategies will you have to adopt to develop consistent application of standards?
  • How will you use the flexibility of Curriculum for Excellence to provide opportunities and pathways for all learners including those with additional support needs and those who require more choices and more chances to progress?
  • It is important that more able children and those who make faster progress do not 'race' through the levels. How can you plan greater variety of contexts, depth and greater challenge into the experiences and outcomes for these children and young people?

The early level

Early education in particular adopts a holistic approach to young children's learning which responds to each child's changing developmental needs and values a child's prior knowledge from home. Centres have the scope to reflect the individuality of their local communities and to respond by providing unique, high quality learning experience for all their children. From the outset, young children are partners in the learning process, actively participating in the planning, shaping and directing of their own learning. With sensitive adult support they will learn how to make good, informed choices and take responsibility for their own learning.

The early level serves a number of purposes. For most children it provides a framework for their work in pre-school years and P1. For some young people with additional support needs, the early level provides a framework for learning and progression for much or all of their time in school.

Purpose of the curriculum in the pre-school stages

The purpose of the curriculum at this early stage is to support children in all aspects of their emotional, social, cognitive and physical development. It should enable them to become increasingly independent, responsible and eager to progress in their learning. Staff in pre-school education achieve this through their skilled interaction with each child and by providing stimulating contexts for active learning, building upon the child's knowledge and skills and recognising his or her stage of development. They can build upon children's enthusiasm, inventiveness and creativity to plan learning activities which combine to achieve this purpose.

Application of the principles

The environment for learning in pre-school settings promotes a high degree of challenge and enjoyment and personalisation and choice through planned opportunities to explore different activities, materials and contexts and imaginative, creative use of both indoor and outdoor learning environments. Learning within any particular activity will prompt different aspects of learning in individual ways for children. Approaches which involve children in planning and respond flexibly to their interests and needs also contribute to personalisation and choice.

Learning activities in pre-school settings can provide rich opportunities for progression and depth of learning. The learning activities and environment should be planned and organised to offer opportunities to extend skills (for example language skills) and deepen understanding. Active learning will promote the development of logical and creative thinking and encourage a problem-solving approach.

The adult role in supporting progression is very important. It will vary, sometimes observing and supporting, other times facilitating and skilfully intervening in, or extending, the activities and experiences to promote progression and learning in depth. Direct teaching and focused work with groups or individual children will help to develop specific skills and knowledge in particular areas of learning or to take account of additional support needs. The balance between self-directed and adult-initiated learning opportunities needs to be carefully considered and monitored.

Learning through a wide range of well-designed activities will also offer relevance, coherence and breadth. Activities will often build directly on what is familiar to the child and the local environment and events can be used to provide interesting, real-life contexts for learning. Learning in a variety of contexts supports and reinforces the development of numeracy, literacy and health and wellbeing across the curriculum.

The experiences and outcomes at the early level can be used in suitable combinations to plan motivating and challenging activities. Taken together, as appropriate to the stage of development of each child, these activities should provide breadth of learning across the curriculum areas. Activities planned in this way and which build on what is familiar should enable children to make connections, give coherence to their learning and enable them to understand the relevance of what they are learning.

Designing a framework for the pre-school stages and P1

Many practitioners have been using Building the Curriculum 2 - Active Learning in the Early Years to review learning in their centres and ensure that the features of an active learning environment are in place. These include:

  • children are fully engaged in their learning, which is interactive, purposeful and defined within the outcomes and experiences
  • the learning environment is relaxed and supportive with opportunity for observation, interaction and further exploration of interests and activities
  • the learning environment is imaginatively resourced and stimulating, with opportunity for engagement in exploratory and spontaneous play
  • imaginative use of space and resources creates opportunity for children to work independently or collaboratively

In planning the curriculum, practitioners are able to build upon the holistic approach to curriculum design established in A Curriculum Framework for Children 3 to 5 and The Child at the Centre: Self-Evaluation in the Early Years. They can use the experiences and outcomes at the early level to plan coherently for progression in learning across the curriculum, combining experiences and outcomes across curriculum areas in a variety of contexts, with one frequently reinforcing another.

Curriculum for Excellence provides opportunities to ensure successful transitions through shared expectations of learning across the early stages of pre-school and P1. It is essential that the active approaches to learning continue from pre-school into P1 and beyond. A collaborative approach is needed to ensure progression within and across levels, particularly at transition and learning will be enhanced through regular professional dialogue across partnerships, sharing knowledge, information, ideas and expertise.

Reflective Questions

  • In what ways do you ensure that children (and parents/carers) are partners in the learning process?
  • How well does your current practice support continuity in experiences and learning for all children as they move into Primary 1? What further opportunities are there to ensure that transition is successful?

The primary stages

Purpose of the curriculum in the primary stages

The purpose of the curriculum at these stages is to promote children's development and learning across a broad range of contexts in order to develop their thinking and learning and their physical, personal and social growth. Primary education, whether for those in school settings or those not in school, should support children to develop and mature as independent and cooperative learners who contribute actively across a range of learning and social situations.

Application of the principles

The experiences and outcomes are the key tool for curriculum planners in designing the breadth of learning activities. The experiences and outcomes include aspects such as enterprise, sustainability and creativity which schools have sometimes had to plan as additions to their curriculum. Time allocations for each curriculum area are not being specified nationally. The broad principle is that children need sufficient time to make good progress through all the experiences and outcomes and achieve the learning set out at each level securely so that they can apply their learning in a range of situations. Where this is not being achieved in an aspect of their learning, then more time may be required or changes to learning and teaching approaches or support may be needed.

The experiences and outcomes also provide the basis for challenge and enjoyment and progression. Undemanding experiences, such as worksheets, copying, word searches or repeated low level activities are unlikely to provide effective tools in learning through the experiences and outcomes; the experiences and outcomes are designed to open up opportunities for active, challenging and enjoyable learning. Planning will need to use this framework to develop a range of resources designed imaginatively for learning that responds to the needs of children and the school community. The organisation of experiences and outcomes into levels will help teachers to plan for progression to meet the differing needs of learners, from those children who enter primary schools still requiring support for their learning at early level to those at the later stages who are ready to be challenged by more advanced concepts and contexts.

The encouragement of depth of learning challenges primary teachers to think beyond the notion of progression as moving quickly from one topic or level to the next. The time spent on discussion of learning, explaining it to others, applying what has been learned in different contexts, spending time to probe and research a particular issue adds depth to learning. In planning for depth and progression, teachers will need to make professional judgements about when children would benefit from further learning contexts at one level and when they need the fresh challenge of moving on to the next level.

Primary schools have major advantages in promoting coherence by helping children to see links between different aspects of learning within and across subjects and curriculum areas and in interdisciplinary studies. The primary teacher's overview of learning across the curriculum and the flexibility within their organisation of the school day are major potential strengths in promoting coherence in learning. This assists the planning of the curriculum as a whole and in the day to day work of staff.

The principle of relevance should be used to help those planning the curriculum in selecting content which connects with the child's experience, learning and interests in and beyond the school environment and ensuring that such links are made by class teachers using their in-depth knowledge of the whole child during learning and teaching. This will enable learners to understand the relevance of their classroom learning, for example seeing connections with experiences in their family or local community, the world of work, their experiences of travel or their interests in sport or media.

Primary teachers' depth of knowledge of their pupils' prior experiences, learning and interests helps them to take account of personalisation and choice during teaching and to provide 'customised' support and feedback. Rich opportunities for choice at these stages may be provided by the school as a whole, for example in personal projects or where pupils have choice in activities sessions and in classrooms where learners are involved in the planning and assessment processes and encouraged to pursue aspects of learning independently.

Designing a framework for the primary stages

In order to design a curriculum which meets the purposes and principles of Curriculum for Excellence, primary schools will plan a blend of programmes and studies across curriculum areas or subjects, interdisciplinary studies, opportunities for personal achievement and learning related to events in the life of the school. For those not in school, work with partners will be a particular feature of planning.

Planning should start by use of the school's improvement planning process to develop programmes of work and design learning approaches using the full range of experiences and outcomes. In taking forward planning, some existing programmes will serve, with adjustment, to promote the experiences and outcomes. Staff should work collaboratively to review their programmes in the light of the purposes and principles of Curriculum for Excellence. Further planning should aim to organise structured programmes based on a suitable balance of learning through curriculum areas and subjects and through interdisciplinary learning, taking account of the design principles and the stage of development of the learners.

Literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing will need to be developed progressively and effectively at all stages and in a range of contexts. Structured and progressive programmes for English language and mathematics are likely to provide the basis for learning in literacy and numeracy. Opportunities to develop and apply these skills in stimulating and relevant contexts across the curriculum will reinforce these skills.

In the middle and upper stages of primary, learners develop a clearer understanding of individual curriculum areas and subjects. This is important in preparing children for transition to the secondary stages - curriculum areas and subjects play a vital role in promoting progression at these stages. However it remains important that coherence in learning is promoted. Well designed interdisciplinary studies at these stages often provide highly motivating contexts for learning which can help children to see links between and the relevance of different aspects of the experiences and outcomes.

Reflective Questions

  • How do you ensure that activities provide appropriate support and challenge to enable young people to develop as independent and cooperative learners?
  • How well does your current practice ensure that literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing are developed progressively at all stages and in a range of contexts?
  • What opportunities are there for staff to work collaboratively to review and plan structured and balanced programmes?
  • How well do you plan the delivery of interdisciplinary learning using experiences and outcomes across curricular areas to provide a coherent curriculum?
  • What support will be required to help make informed decisions about allowing learners to progress between levels at appropriate points?

The secondary stages

The transition from primary school should be smooth and offer progression and continuity of learning and teaching approaches. Those involved in planning the curriculum should consider features of a young person's experience in primary which might be continued and what should be distinctively different about secondary school. Particular thought will need to be given to those who are not currently within school, or for whom provision outwith school is appropriate or necessary.

Purposes of the curriculum in S1 to S3

At the end of P7, almost all young people look forward with excitement to entering the new environment of secondary school. In their primary school they are likely to have had experience of taking on significant responsibilities, often acting as role models for younger children. At least one teacher will have known them very well. They will have progressed at different rates, but many will already have reached high levels of literacy and numeracy and tackled challenging problems. They need their secondary teachers to build on what they have already achieved. During the early years of secondary education, young people will extend their skills substantially and develop their particular strengths and interests further and this is an important period for their personal development. Their motivation for learning needs to be maintained in the face of peer and other pressures so that they make a successful transition into the senior phase.

The period from S1 to S3 has a clear purpose: that all young people will have a strong platform for later learning and for successful transition to qualifications at the right level for them. The experiences and outcomes include opportunities at this stage, as at other stages, for challenge and success in different contexts, for example cultural, physical and technological. The curriculum continues to provide opportunities to adopt an active and healthy lifestyle and to plan for future life and careers.

As they continue to develop the four capacities, the curriculum should enable each young person to:

  • experience learning across a broad curriculum, covering science, languages, mathematics, social studies (including Scottish history); expressive arts, health and wellbeing, religious and moral education and technology
  • achieve stretching levels of literacy and numeracy
  • develop skills for learning and skills for life and skills for work
  • develop knowledge and understanding of society, Scottish contexts, history and culture and Scotland's place in the world
  • experience challenge and success

At the end of S3 young people should have their progress and achievements recognised by the school or establishment. Before they enter the senior phase, where formal qualifications will be encountered, it is not anticipated that young people will be presented for examinations. It is important that the qualifications framework supports the curriculum rather than leads it and does not narrow learning too soon. The S1 to S3 curriculum should provide a rich and stimulating learning experience which is not burdened by over-assessment and which allows teachers more opportunity to exercise their professional abilities to focus on the individual needs of their learners. Those involved in planning the curriculum will, however, wish to ensure that the foundations are being laid for transition to the senior phase in a way appropriate to the needs of the young person. This may include participation in Skills for Work qualifications.

Application of the principles

Breadth within this stage is achieved through learning across all 7 the experiences and outcomes in the eight curriculum areas to the third curriculum level so far as this is consistent with young people's needs and prior achievements. Learning across all these experiences and outcomes will enable young people to develop breadth of knowledge and understanding and apply their skills in a wide range of contexts. Breadth is further ensured through a curriculum where ethos, interdisciplinary learning and personal achievement are seen as being important. The fact that the curriculum comprises more than subjects alone, but is also about other types of experiences, enables outdoor learning, work-related activities, out of school hours learning and so forth. This also underlines that experiences in college, in the work place, or through provision by the voluntary sector form an integral part of the curriculum, not something apart from the curriculum.

The entire period from S1 to S3 needs to be planned to maintain challenge and enjoyment, with the highest possible expectations of what young people can achieve. The activities should encourage young people to develop and demonstrate creativity and innovation. The experiences and outcomes are designed to provide motivation and challenge and to raise expectations of achievement. At the third level they include opportunities for challenge, success and personal achievements in different contexts.

It is important that young people experience a suitable, challenging gradient of progression during this period, maintaining progress from their achievements in primary school. Many young people will progress from their learning in primary school by moving on to third level experiences and outcomes when they enter S1. Most learners will progress to study at fourth level in chosen areas at appropriate points during S1 to S3. Given the focus on literacy and numeracy, most young people should achieve outcomes at fourth level in these aspects.

The curriculum for S1 - S3 provides opportunities for learning in depth through opportunities for young people to engage with increasingly demanding concepts, develop more sophisticated cognitive and other skills and further develop their values and beliefs. Young people can explore areas of interest in depth at third level and, as at other stages, interdisciplinary learning can provide opportunities to extend and deepen understanding. Most young people will also achieve outcomes in a range of curriculum areas at fourth level, where the experiences and outcomes will provide opportunities for specialisation and depth.

By introducing breadth, challenge and depth throughout S1 to S3 and focusing on learning through the experiences and outcomes at a higher level than is current practice, this period of education should lead to improvements in attainment and achievement, raising the bar for all young people.

The scope offered by the three years from S1-3 should be used by schools and their partners to plan for coherent programmes which minimise fragmentation, for example by using small teams of teachers and other staff working together to cover curriculum areas, each contributing as appropriate from their subject specialism and by a collaborative approach to planning which enables young people to make connections between different areas of their learning. There should be coherence and consistency in the development of literacy, numeracy and other skills for life and skills for work.

The principle of relevance can help staff and others planning the curriculum to connect learning with the young person's experience and interests in and beyond the school environment. During this period they will increasingly develop informed views and apply these to relevant moral and ethical issues. Experiences which relate to the world of work provide relevance which will be motivating for many.

Personalisation and choice during S1 - S3 will continue to include choices in approaches to learning within the classroom. In addition, opportunities for personal achievement and interdisciplinary groupings of experiences and outcomes provide choices which can lead to broadening and consolidation of learning. By providing motivating contexts, interdisciplinary studies can provide access to particular curriculum areas for young people who might not otherwise be motivated by an aspect of learning (for example an interdisciplinary study which includes outcomes in modern languages and technologies). The ethos and life of the school as a community offers additional choices for demonstrating responsibility and contributions to the community.

Partnerships with colleges, youth work services, the voluntary sector and employers will open up a wide range of motivating choices, based upon the experiences and outcomes, to meet the needs of all young people.

Young people will progress at different rates and need different levels of support and some will continue to experience learning at curriculum levels below the third level, as appropriate to their needs and achievements. Schools and their partners should plan to make choices available to all, whether or not they have achieved the outcomes at the third level and offer motivating opportunities for personalisation and choice for young people who need additional support for their learning.

It will be important to ensure a smooth transition into the senior phase and qualifications for all young people at levels within the SCQF framework which are appropriate for them.

Designing a framework for the secondary curriculum S1 - S3

In order to design a curriculum for S1 to S3 which meets the purposes and principles outlined above, secondary schools will plan a blend of activities and courses, making full use of the expertise and resources which partners can contribute, based upon curriculum areas and subjects, interdisciplinary learning, opportunities for personal achievement and learning related to the ethos and life of the school. Schools will be able to organise the experiences and outcomes in ways that meet the needs of their own young people and the national expectation of an entitlement to a broad general education.

There is a great deal of scope for innovative approaches to the design of the curriculum as a whole during this phase. A key step is to use the school's improvement planning process to develop or design high quality learning programmes, based upon the experiences and outcomes. Existing successful programmes should be built upon, including joint programmes between primary and secondary.

Schools will need to develop a framework which enables progression for all and provides for the different kinds of choice. To provide access for all young people to the learning described in the experiences and outcomes, schools will be working in partnership alongside, for example, colleges, employers, youth work services and the voluntary sector. Specialist teachers and facilities in the secondary school provide a rich and stimulating environment in which young people can progress their learning. At the same time, the opportunities presented for planning of learning and teaching across the S1 - S3 phase will include pathways which go beyond traditional subject groupings or year groupings. Most learners will progress towards the fourth level experiences and outcomes in many aspects of their learning, laying strong foundations for further learning. Given the focus on literacy and numeracy, most young people should achieve outcomes at level 4 in these aspects. Most young people should also achieve outcomes at level 4 in a range of curriculum areas. This may involve following "subject lines" within curriculum areas. It will also permit interdisciplinary groupings of experiences and outcomes from two or more curriculum areas.

Decisions about patterns of organisation need to take account of the purpose and nature of the learning and make best use of the expertise and resources available. Different patterns of organisation can contribute to pace, progression and coherence. For example, some aspects of the curriculum may lend themselves to being taught continuously (for example English, maths and PE). Others may be organised across short or longer time periods, continuously or as discrete courses and the school's approach to the place and purposes of interdisciplinary studies will need to be established.

Reflective Questions

  • How well do your transition procedures at P7 to S1 ensure a smooth, seamless transfer with continuity of learning and teaching approaches and appropriate progression? How could you best develop these procedures?
  • How do you ensure a smooth transition from P7 to S1 for your most vulnerable young people, including your looked after children? How could you best develop this?
  • What possibilities do you see for developing curriculum structures for S1 to S3 to ensure breadth and depth of study?
  • How would you develop your curriculum framework to ensure opportunities for collaborative working across curriculum areas?
  • How would you develop a balance between subject-based learning and interdisciplinary learning?
  • What strategies need to be adopted to embed literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing across the curriculum?
  • How do you ensure good partnership working to deliver skills for life and skills for work?
  • How would you develop arrangements to ensure a smooth transition to the senior phase in school and other settings to ensure continuity and progression in learning?

Purposes of the curriculum in the senior phase

The senior phase of the curriculum relates to the period S4 to S6 in schools or the equivalent in terms of college or other means of study. It is the stage of learning at which the relationship between the curriculum and qualifications becomes of key significance. At this stage of the curriculum we expect that most young people will engage with the qualifications framework and that more formal assessment and certification will take place.

The role of college at this stage becomes of particular significance for young people for whom learning at college is the best means of meeting their needs and also for those for whom a combination of school and college (or other means of study) meets their needs best. In addition to college, there will be a variety of other options open to young people to pursue their learning such as Glow, self-supported study, video-conferencing and studying at neighbourhood schools. Young people with additional support needs should enter the senior phase in order to undertake learning at a level of qualification suitable to their needs.

However, it will not be possible - or even desirable - to deliver all aspects of the senior phase curriculum through qualifications alone. Whilst the opportunity to study for qualifications will be a central feature of the senior phase, there will be other planned opportunities for developing the four capacities. These will include an ongoing entitlement to learning and experiences which continue to develop a young person's literacy and numeracy skills, skills for life and skills for work. The promotion of an active and healthy lifestyle and an appreciation of the world and Scotland's place in it should be part of this.

The purposes of the senior phase are to provide all learners, whatever their individual needs, with:

  • an experience which builds on their learning in S1 to S3 with scope to develop their individual potential
  • a broad preparation for adult life, whether their own next stage is further/higher education or employment or volunteering and for participation in wider society
  • opportunities to extend their own abilities and interests
  • opportunities to study at as advanced levels as possible, to a high degree of rigour
  • opportunities for a range of personal achievements, in or out of school
  • recognition of achievement, both attainment of qualifications and wider achievements
  • continued emphasis on literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing and the development of a wide range of skills for life and skills for work

A key principle for the senior phase must be that qualifications and assessment should support the new approach to learning and teaching and meet the desired outcomes of Curriculum for Excellence. In this stage of learning, assessment continues to be an integral part of learning and teaching and should be used to support the learning process, inform next steps and provide a good basis for reporting on progress.

Application of the principles

The senior phase of the curriculum offers extensive opportunity for personalisation and choice for young people. It is the period of learning where young people are expected to make informed choices, based on appropriate information and advice from a wide range of sources, about programmes of study leading to qualifications at a level appropriate to the individual's needs and achievements. For some young people, this will be about gaining the necessary qualifications to enter further or higher education. For other young people it will involve building on the experiences and outcomes to develop opportunities that will allow them to move on to sustained and positive destinations and lifelong learning. Young people should be encouraged to choose a well balanced and coherent programme of study throughout the senior phase which is relevant to their future pathways.

Although the curriculum in the senior phase is expected to be delivered in the main through schools, there will for many young people be opportunities for learning in colleges and wider learning partnerships, all of which will provide a range of opportunities to meet the needs of young people. There should also be planned opportunities for personal achievement and increasing contributions to the school and community.

The more specialised experiences and outcomes at fourth curriculum level provide a good basis for qualifications in S4 onwards. This should ensure a smooth progression through the learning experience from curriculum areas into qualifications.

Those involved in planning the curriculum will need to ensure that young people have the opportunity to engage with the qualifications framework at an SCQF level appropriate to their prior achievements and needs. Most young people should by the end of S3 be undertaking, or be ready to move on from, learning at the fourth curriculum level. The experiences and outcomes at fourth curriculum level have been carefully considered to relate to a level of demand commensurate with that of qualifications in SCQF level 4. They have also been written to provide a basis for choice for courses of study in the senior phase. Some young people, however, will enter the senior phase having undertaken learning through the experiences and outcomes at a level below the fourth curriculum level.

As young people make a series of choices during the senior phase, the specialised programmes of study should provide opportunities to deepen learning. Curriculum planners and those supporting young people making their choices should also ensure that the young people continue to experience a broad curriculum.

Young people will continue to experience challenge and enjoyment through learning which is appropriate to their stage of development as well as having relevance for their future pathways.

Designing a framework for the senior phase

In order to design a curriculum which meets the purposes and principles of Curriculum for Excellence schools and their partners should plan a blend of programmes and courses leading to qualifications. There should also be planned opportunities for interdisciplinary studies, opportunities for personal achievement and learning related to the ethos and life of the school. A young person's curriculum at this stage may include some, or in some cases all, of their learning being provided at college or elsewhere. The partners responsible for planning the curriculum should work together to ensure the best possible transition for these young people, particularly in the light of the different environments for learning and the potentially different range of available qualifications.

The four aspects of the curriculum (the ethos and life of the school as a community, curriculum areas and subjects, interdisciplinary projects and studies, opportunities for personal achievement) will continue throughout the senior phase. In the main, it will be structured through subjects.

Outwith the qualifications framework, interdisciplinary activities could also provide an opportunity to deepen learning, develop research and presentation skills and prepare for the next stage of lifelong learning. Interdisciplinary activities offer the opportunity to contextualise learning, make better connections between areas of study and increase the relevance of learning. It is however recognised that the balance of these will be different for different circumstances.

The introduction of integrative projects in the Science and Language Baccalaureates is one way of encouraging interdisciplinary working. Others opportunities could be available in the senior phase through learning in and across subjects and in areas such as Health and Wellbeing. For some young people opportunities will arise through programmes such as ASDAN, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, Youth Achievement Award and John Muir Trust initiatives.

It is expected that literacy and numeracy skills in the senior phase will continue to be developed across the range of subjects studied and through the wider contexts for learning.

A degree of flexibility in curriculum design will be essential for those involved in curriculum planning. To best meet the needs of young people, curriculum planners will have to consider and manage the implications of this greater flexibility. This could come through a number of routes, some of which are considered in the following paragraphs:

1. Structuring the senior phase
Schools can structure the senior phase in different ways ranging from offering option choices largely targeted at specific year groups to models that view the senior phase as a single cohort. The latter would have implications for the ways in which choices are made in the senior phase making it possible for a school to timetable classes which include young people from S4 to S6.

2. Taking qualifications over a variable timeframe
Curriculum managers could consider how best to structure the system to ensure that the "two term dash" is not the only route to Highers and Advanced Highers for young people. It is possible to allow young people the opportunity to study qualifications over an extended timeframe, for example over 18 months or even 2 years as alternatives to the current model.

3. Developing strategies for high attaining young people
Those involved in curriculum planning should consider how best to meet the needs of their higher attaining young people. The senior phase will enable progression at a suitable rate through the qualifications framework, not necessarily through presentation in successive years for each level within the framework. One such approach could be to bypass lower level qualifications. Currently most young people 'sit' qualifications at every level in the senior phase. It should be possible to encourage those young people who are likely to attain higher levels of qualifications not to take the lower levels and hence avoid the interruption to their learning.

4. Developing strategies to meet the needs of those planning to leave in S4
This framework, in conjunction with the flexibilities proposed under the consultation on the next generation of qualifications, provides opportunities for flexibility in meeting the needs of young people planning to leave school in S4. Those involved in planning the curriculum should consider how best to make opportunities available for young people to supplement their achievements in literacy and numeracy with qualifications at the appropriate SCQF levels, including SCQF level 6.

5. Developing planned opportunities for achievement in the senior phase
The curriculum in the senior phase should comprise learning leading to qualifications along with a wide range of other experiences for young people. Schools could plan in a coherent way with partner agencies how best to provide opportunities to meet the needs of all young people in preparation for life after school, including opportunities to extend their abilities and interests, opportunities for a range of personal achievements and personal development and a continued emphasis on literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing and the development of a wide range of skills for life and skills for work.