Curriculum for Excellence 2020-2021 - OECD review: initial evidence pack

Initial evidence base for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) independent review of Curriculum for Excellence, developed by the Scottish Government, to provide the OECD with contextual information and evidence on the Scottish education system, in advance of their research and engagement work.

Annex C: Examples Of Curriculum Development In Schools Across Scotland

Examples of curriculum practice in Primary Schools 

Examples of curriculum practice in Secondary Schools 

The following exemplars were developed with the relevant schools leaders. All are drawn from exemplars of practice being shared in full or in part with the system as part of the ongoing curriculum developments initiated by Developing the Young Workforce (DYW)  and the renewed focus on the Broad General Education in Secondary (S1 to S3).   

Each exemplar gives a commentary on curriculum rationale, design and impact. Section 2 gives further detail on aspects of the design in each of the Broad General Education and the Senior Phase. Section 3 gives a selection of  the 'impact stories' of individual young people.  Links to other sources of information are referenced in almost all exemplars but not all will be active. 

  • 1. Calderglen High School is in South Lanarkshire and part of the West Partnership.  It has a roll of 1403 and serves an urban area. 
  • 2. ESgoil is located in Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and part of the Northern Alliance.  It was established in 2016 to provide wider and more equitable access to choices for all young people in the Western Isles. It now offers this service across Scotland.  
  • 3. Grove Academy is in Dundee and part of the Tayside Collaborative. It has a roll of 1259 and serves a large urban area.
  • 4. Kingussie High School is a Highland Council school and part of the Northern Alliance.  It has a roll of and serves a remote rural area.
  • 5. Newbattle High School is in  Midlothian and part of the South East Collaborative.  It has a roll of 900 and serves an urban area.
  • 6. Portlethen Academy is in  Aberdeenshire and part of the Northern Alliance.  It has a roll of    and serves an accessible small town.
  • 7. West Lothian Inclusion and Wellbeing Service is part of the Forth Valley and West Lothian Collaborative. It serves a wide urban area and works in total with 615 children and young people at the primary and secondary stages across West Lothian .

The following were common themes with all leaders:

  • Offering a curriculum that has meaning for all young people in the school's community is seen as an equity issue for the leaders.
  • Developments have included an expansion of the subject offer – initially at the Senior Phase stage - allowing more choice beyond the traditional menu of qualification courses.  In Kingussie, for example, they doubled their menu over 4 years. This then allows for the design of more varied pathways. 
  • All see a need to re-focus effort in S1 to S3 and particularly S3.
  • Communication with parents is seen as an ongoing and worthwhile challenge. The schools here have developed some interesting approaches. 
  • The measures currently being currently used, the gathering of data, when and where data is made available and the value placed on different groups of data were issues for all leaders. 

The following images shows an example of curriculum practice in West Lothian Council's  Inclusion and Wellbeing Service and  gives details on roll, socioeconomic factors/SIMD data and a commentary on curriculum rationale, design and impact.

Inclusion & Wellbeing Service

West Lothian Council

Section 1

Roll as at April 2020:  Connolly School Campus (primary)– 20 learners; Burnhouse Skills Centre (secondary) – 20 plus 250 in-reach outreach learners;  Early Intervention Team – 325 learners. 

Our service is comprised of three parts with two SEBN schools and a wider ASN outreach support service covering children from birth.

100% of the young people we have on our school rolls or on our in-reach outreach programmes have an identified additional support need.

Socioeconomic factors / SIMD data

Early Intervention Team (325 learners)
The image shows an example of curriculum practice in West Lothian Council’s  Inclusion and Wellbeing Service and  gives details on roll, socioeconomic factors/SIMD data and a commentary on curriculum rationale, design and impact.
FConnolly School Campus (20 learners)
The image shows an example of curriculum practice in West Lothian Council’s  Inclusion and Wellbeing Service and  gives details on roll, socioeconomic factors/SIMD data and a commentary on curriculum rationale, design and impact.e
Burnhouse Skills Centre (20 +250 learners)
The image shows an example of curriculum practice in West Lothian Council’s  Inclusion and Wellbeing Service and  gives details on roll, socioeconomic factors/SIMD data and a commentary on curriculum rationale, design and impact.
The image shows an example of curriculum practice in West Lothian Council’s  Inclusion and Wellbeing Service and  gives details on roll, socioeconomic factors/SIMD data and a commentary on curriculum rationale, design and impact.
The image shows an example of curriculum practice in West Lothian Council’s  Inclusion and Wellbeing Service and  gives details on roll, socioeconomic factors/SIMD data and a commentary on curriculum rationale, design and impact.

Further details about the West Lothian Inclusion & Wellbeing Service can be found on our website: Our homepage features an overview video of our provision.


Our curriculum rationale was developed from evidence and output from Partnership Planning Events, Case Study moderation, Pupil Passport meetings, Learner Life Grid completions and partnerships with other agencies it is shaped by our vision and values to ensure learner entitlement to a broad general education and a Senior Phase experience.  Staff have a detailed understanding of the social, economic and cultural context of our school and this knowledge has been used to shape our ambitious vision for the school. Our curriculum model has been designed around the needs of our learners as they present with significant negative barriers to learning. Learners have a wide range of additional support need  (ASN) including learning difficulties, social and emotional challenges, ASD, ADHD, high levels of exclusion, interrupted learning, looked after status and hearing impairment.  Many are very disengaged from learning in a traditional sense and we use our GIRFEC Lifegrids and Pupil Passports approach to build our model around their needs and interests.  The data collated helps us identify themes and patterns of challenges which we then use to make dynamic changes to our curriculum within a timetabled and flexible framework. The approach combines with the high levels of creativity and the interests of teachers and support staff who design and introduce new curricular offers which form part of a bank of learning offers that can be utilised by any staff member depending on the needs the young person presents with.  Staff have high expectations of all learners and work to remove any barriers children face within the vision of improving outcomes for all. Pupils, parents, partners and staff are actively involved in the ongoing development and review of the service vision, values and aims which underpin our continuous improvement agenda. Learners are supported to understand the vision, aims and values through the four contexts of learning.   Leaders at all levels motivate and inspire others to sustain collective commitment to the shared vision through their daily actions.  

Key milestones in co-producing our rationale have been:

  • Co-creation of our Relationships Policy with learners, parents and staff - Includes Pupil Passports/IEP/GIRFEC Life Grids for all pupils – strong pupil voice influencing positive change across the school. Pupil voice behind the need to change practice from restraint and seclusion to a new rationale and approach to a stronger focus on learner pathways, hope and opportunity for tomorrow. The GIRFEC Life Grids (derived from educational research and masters level studies) show the positive changes over time in children's views on the school and their learning.
  • Development of a clear Curriculum rationale and the Presumption of Mainstream Learner Journey – leading to almost all children accessing learning in their own communities and increasing number of children successfully transitioning to mainstream schools.
  • Coherent curriculum map developed in line with our vision, values and aims and curriculum rationale and we can see an increase in learner engagement and increase in positive feedback on our curriculum from parents.
  • Four contexts aligned to achievement recognised in regular assemblies.
  • Vision, values and aims developed 18/19 for Connolly School Campus and for Inclusion and Wellbeing Service 19/20.  Survey issued to all parents, pupils, staff and partners. Alignment has opened up greater learning opportunities for children and young people and clarity of purpose across the staff team.
  • Staff are trauma informed and have undertaken Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) training.  A member of staff is an active member of the West Lothian ACEs HUB.  
  • Improvement agenda underpinned by practitioner enquiry approach – Into Headship, Trauma, Middle Leadership pathway (Leadership and Management) and West Lothian Leadership programme. Outputs led to new curricular model the Inclusion and Wellbeing Service.
  • Partnership work with the Improvement Service to develop the SIP and to engage all staff in the process.
  • Effective use of Huddle daily meeting – daily protected time where all staff discuss the individual needs for pupils, barriers to learning, engagement, achievements and practical arrangements holistically aligned to our vision and values. All staff empowered to experience the chairperson role. Evidenced by a reduction in negative incidents.
  • Support Staff meetings held regularly to seek feedback, share creative approaches and strategies for children.
  • Teacher meetings held regularly to focus on pedagogy.
  • Development of Pedagogy Group with teachers from across the Inclusion and Wellbeing Service.
  • Local authority wide systems leadership to support mainstream schools to establish and sustain small group settings, de-escalation training for staff groups and ongoing support. 
  • Strategies and approaches utilised across IWS shared regularly by SLT at local authority Assessment & Transition Group to build capacity and sustain children in mainstream education.
  • Staff talents and expertise harnessed within the curriculum and remits to enhance the learner journey and curricular offer.  Almost all parents reporting significant positive changes in attitudes towards school as a result of the curricular adaptations.
  • Implementation of an Extended Leadership Team with clear cross-service responsibilities to lead strategic change aligned to a Senior Leadership Team with cross-service and systems leadership roles to support the improvement agenda.
  • Almost all staff have a very strong commitment to social justice and a presumption of mainstream ethos – almost all children gaining mainstream experience and included in their own communities. Achievement of Bronze Rights Respecting Schools Award and action plan developed for Silver level.
  • Action Plan for improvement in staff and pupil safety and wellbeing Sept 2018 – significant reduction in RIVO (health and safety) recorded incidents, procedural change from use of restraint and seclusion. Significant reduction in fixed-term exclusions over a two -year period in Connolly School Campus with the revised curriculum core to this incredibly positive policy change.
  • Whole service collegiate time protected in the service calendar to support moderation activities.  Almost all staff engaged in case study moderation activities and sharing professional expertise with focus on wellbeing indicators to influence change.


  • Use service design tools and approaches to shape the curriculum offer.
  • Curriculum offers a wide range of experiences and provides flexible learning pathways based on Experiences and Outcomes, pupils' support needs, pupil's voice.
  • Curriculum takes account of the four contexts and incorporates the 7 design principles
  • GIRFEC Lifegrids and Pupil Passports sitting at the heart of our design
  • Project based learning approaches in development
  • Partnership Planning Events held annually as part of the improvement /design cycle (140 in March 2019)
  • Strong focus on developing the skills our young people need in the work of work through project-based learning
  • Strong focus on developing  awareness of a range of careers and the skills required for them through our teaching and support.
  • Shared responsibility for developing Literacy, Numeracy and Health and Wellbeing across the curriculum.
  • Wide variety of outdoor learning opportunities.
  • Regular engagement with digital technologies.
  • Outcomes for young people (students) measured across four contexts and capacities re achievements, attainment, pathways
  • See also Section 2 details

Impact – see also section 3

Connolly School Campus: Attainment

  • Our learners have been achieving at a higher level over time with the new ethos and curricular offer at the heart of this improvement.
  • The CfE levels of our learners over time has increased with significantly more learners achieving at First level in reading, writing, listening and talking and numeracy by the end of P7.  Historically learners had been working on individual milestones and now learners are achieving at higher levels.

The following table shows achievement levels in numeracy and literacy at Connolly School Campus for 2016/17, 2017/18 &2018/19.

The table shows achievement levels in numeracy and literacy at Connolly School Campus for 2016/17, 2017/18 &2018/19.
The table shows achievement levels in numeracy and literacy at Connolly School Campus for 2016/17, 2017/18 &2018/19.
The table shows achievement levels in numeracy and literacy at Connolly School Campus for 2016/17, 2017/18 &2018/19.
The table shows achievement levels in numeracy and literacy at Connolly School Campus for 2016/17, 2017/18 &2018/19.

Parental Feedback for Connolly School Campus

"Great school for [pupil]. Great for learning life skills that he wouldn`t get anywhere else"

"The school is doing a great job with [pupil}. I am very pleased."

"I can see a huge difference in [pupil] now. He is building confidence in the short time he has been at CSC. I am very proud of him. He is keen to get back to school."

"See a big difference in CSC with the extra support and more settled"

"CSC are doing a great job doing at what you do. [Pupil] is happy and that's the main thing"

"CSC have done a fantastic job settling [pupil] and preparing him for his transition to mainstream"

Burnhouse Skills Centre 

  • Year on year increase in the number and variety of SCQF programmes on offer for our own learners and those on in-reach and outreach programmes. 
  • Flexible pathways have improved learner engagement and as such have impacted positively on attainment.
  • There has been a consistent steady trend of increased in passes over time:

The following table shows number of pupils achieving passes in qualifications in at Burnhouse Skills Centre  for years 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20.

  • See also section 3 examples
The table shows number of pupils achieving passes in qualifications in at Burnhouse Skills Centre  for years 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20.

Portlethen Academy   


Section 1


Current roll: 818 

Socioeconomic context: Nearly 75% of pupils are within SIMD Deciles 8-10.  Due to low numbers in Deciles 1-5 it is rare that a poverty related attainment gap is recorded. SIMD profile fairly consistent year on year.

Decile 1 Decile 2 Decile 3 Decile 4 Decile 5 Decile 6 Decile 7 Decile 8 Decile 9 Decile 10
0% 1.0% 1.0% 0.6% 0.6% 7.1% 15.6% 12.2% 42.1% 20.2%
2.0% 74.5%

Vision: To be the very best we can be.

Values: 'Learn and Improve. Get Involved. Think of the Consequences.  Respect All'. 


Attainment for all and Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) have been central planks of our thinking and we have worked to establish a flexible and broad curriculum which is responsive to pupils' needs, interests and aspirations. The offer aims to provide pathways that have strong links to the workplace and to Skills for Life, Learning and Work for all young people. We aim to be flexible and provide experiences that allow young people to focus on interests but are not so narrow as to be limiting. The offer also provides experiences and certification for young people who do not fit the "traditional" profile of the N5s and Highers offer. 


  • Curriculum based on the four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence
  • Skills framework promoted and built into curricular content
  • Personalisation process for pupils as they move from S2 into S3
  • All of the Senior Phase S4-S6) are timetabled together
  • A wide curricular offer in the Senior Phase - young people can choose and achieve qualifications in subjects which allow for progression into employment, further education and higher education
  • Strong focus on Developing the Young Workforce throughout all stages of the curricular offer including numerous qualifications / courses (Foundation Apprenticeships, NPA Enterprise and Employability)
  • Link with North East Scotland College (NESCol) widens the Senior Phase curricular offer
  • Involvement in Excelerate programme in conjunction with the Wood Foundation with a developing focus on project-based learning.
  • Development of key partnerships to enhance learning eg Community Learning and Development (CLD) (Gear Up To Go), Mackie Academy and Mearns Academy (Moving Forward) Aberdeen Football Club Community Trust (Portydeen project session 2020/21)
  • See also Section 2 details

Impact – see also Section 3

  • Widened curricular offer leading to improved engagement and better learner pathways
  • Good pupil, parent and staff understanding of the enhanced range of courses and qualifications
  • Increased attainment profile of young people  
  • Improved whole school attainment
  • Sustained high positive destination figures
  • Pupils more aware of the transferable skills they are developing in school and how they relate to life, learning and work
  • Positive working relationships with business partners / external agencies to support delivery of courses in Senior Phase
  • See also Section 3 examples

Section 2


  • Pupils follow a curriculum in S1 and S2 designed to give experiences in all subjects they can select from in S3 / Senior Phase
  • Personalisation process as pupils progress from S2 into S3
  • High level of support offered when personalising the curriculum at the end of S2
  • Moving Forward curricular input offered in conjunction with two neighbouring schools for targeted pupils in S3
  • Curricular offer developed in conjunction with Aberdeen Football Club Community Trust to offer a tailored pathway linked to health and wellbeing and sport which leads into an offer in the Senior Phase.
  • S3 pupils complete awards during core subjects (Religious Beliefs and values award in RMPS, Employability award in PSE).

Senior Phase

  • Progression from the BGE
  • Senior Phase timetabled as a whole (S4-S6 together)
  • S4 - Six subjects including English and Mathematics
  • Maths and Applications of Mathematics both offered and completed by pupils in S4 to enhance attainment
  • S4 complete awards during core subjects (Social Anthropology RMPS, Mental Health Award PSE)
  • S5 - Five subjects plus an enrichment option
  • S6 - Four or five subjects plus an enrichment option
  • Enrichment column allows pupils to pick up additional subjects / qualifications
  • Pupils choosing a National 4 or National 5 course also complete Personal Finance qualification
  • Wide offer of qualifications (NQ, NPA, SQA Awards, Foundation Apprenticeships).
  • S5 pupils complete Personal Development award at SCQF L6 from session 2020/2021
  • S6 pupils complete Leadership Award at SCQF L6 from session 2020/2021
  • Wide offer of qualifications (NQ, NPA, SQA Awards, Foundation Apprenticeships)
  • Foundation Apprenticeships offered in three frameworks in session 2019 / 2020 (Accountancy, Children and Young People and Health and Social Care)
  • Involvement in pilot fast tracked Foundation Apprenticeship programme in Creative and Digital Media during session 2019/2020
  • Foundation Apprenticeships offered in school in seven frameworks in session 2020 / 2021 (Accountancy, Business Skills, Children and Young People, Engineering, Health and Social Care, IT Software, Scientific Technologies)
  • Exploring and hoping to offer, with the support of the local authority, pilot SCQF Level 4 and Level 5 Foundation Apprenticeship courses in Automotive, Construction, Digital Skills, Hospitality 
  • Senior Phase community project with associated qualification (NPA Enterprise and Employability SCQF Level 5) to be offered in session 2020/2021 with the support of Aberdeen FC Community Trust

Section 3

Student A (Current S6)

  • MidYIS of 84
  • Significant SQA Additional Assessment Arrangements in place for exams as she experiences visual stress (Irlen Syndrome). (Extra time, separate room as needed, use of coloured overlays, blue paper for extended writing). A finds formal exams very difficult.
  • Enjoyed and was good at Food Technology.  Developed an interest in baking and then cooking -liked to experiment. Through BGE thought she would like to work in the Food/ hospitality industry, possibly in a commercial kitchen.
  • S4 results were Hospitality (B), PE (B) and English (C) @N5 and 2 passes @ N4 Health and Food Technology and Biology - emphasis on her potential career path. Exams a struggle however and confidence low re her abilities and interactions with others outside her immediate group.
  • During S5 took a school links course- Level 5 Skills for Work Hospitality course at NESCOL -adapted her timetable, reduced in school commitment. Opportunity to experience a commercial kitchen working with others from different schools. Built her confidence working with others and leading events. School staff saw a confident and competent pupil excelling in the environment. A secured a Pass at Level 5 in SfW Hospitality.
  • Disappointed with Highers in S5 (PE and English) but secured an A in N5 Health and Food Technology.
  • Part time work in a local café out of school -  gained practical experience. 
  • As a result of her college course - nominated for apprenticeship with Maryculter House Hotel (school partner), met with manager and secured part time employment with them. (Couldn't take up apprenticeship as she wanted to complete her S6 in school). 
  • This year she is studying Higher Health and Food Technology, is attempting a resit of H English and is picking up French N5. She is also undertaking work experience in a Hair and Beauty Salon two afternoons a week and may be able to complete a National Progression Award. Developing a second option –benefit in developing her knowledge, experience and skills for the Spa and Beauty side of the Hospitality industry. 

Student B

  • Midyis of 115 
  • Very disappointed S4 N5 results - CCD and three No Awards. 
  • Resat a number of Nat 5s as well as picking up a few others linked to her career aspiration. S5 results slightly better with some success at nationals with an A (Apps of Maths), C (Biology), C (Business Studies), two D's & a No Award in H Geography. The more practical aspects of Applications in Maths helped her.  
  • At the end of her S4 during a 1-2-1 with her PTG B said she felt she would never be great at exams and felt she would be suited to learning on the job type work.  She had also decided she wanted to mix her creative skills with her high levels of confidence and was interested in creative/digital marketing. With this in mind we applied together for B to do the FA in Creative and Digital Media at North East Scotland College where she was accepted after a short interview process. 
  • The PTGuidance also suggested that B sign up for the Career Ready Programme which she did and she has had a really successful year working with the Press & Journal newspaper and her Mentor from that company.  She completed a 4 week summer internship with them and has impressed so much the P&J have offered her a weekly work experience slot which she will use to complete year 2 of her FA
  • B loved the FA and college style learning and felt it was far more suited to her aptitudes so she applied for a full time course in Digital Marketing at NESCOL. She was successful in securing a place and they are happy for her to complete year 2 of her FA whilst she is doing this. 
  • B has therefore left school with 7@ N5s. She is completing her FA. She is working towards a HNC/HND and she has a fantastic industry link with definite possibilities of full time employment secured through successful participation in the Career Ready Programme.  

Student C 

  • Gained 3 National 5s in S4, Drama (B), English (C), Health and Food Technology (A).
  • Lacks confidence and is a reserved and quiet pupil but very focussed.
  • Really poor handwriting and exams are a struggle for her.
  • She has always wanted to be a Nursery Manager. Work experience at the start of S4 in Chapelton Nursery confirmed that this was where she would want to work.
  • After discussion with her PTG C and her parents agreed that a more practical and less exam based pathway would better suit her. The initial thought of college was daunting for such a reserved pupil but open events and visits plus discussions with others in person and via Snapchat helped build confidence.
  • Presently studying the FA in childcare 2 yr course and has presented to parents of prospective pupils at NESCOL about the benefits of the course at a Foundation Apprenticeship open evening.
  • Gained 2 Highers Drama(C) and English (C) and 3 National 5s:  Spanish, Applications of Maths and Maths this year all at C.
  • Also became Prefect through her confidence increasing in the FA course. 
  • C likes the social side of the FA where she is meeting people with the same interests and it's a different type of qualification that suits her learning style better.

Student D

  • D was scouted by Aberdeen Football Club  (AFC) in S1 and joined their youth programme.
  • S2 – S3 arrangements put in place for D to attend training and matches as and when required.
  • S4 – an afternoon per week out of school to attend training.  He gained 6 N5s. Biology C, Design and manufacture B, English B, Geography C, Maths C and Physics A. Both D and his parents were in a dilemma regarding his potential future and were keen to maintain his academic path in case he did not have success in football. 
  • S5 – out of school on Tuesdays and Fridays to attend training and matches.  A flexible timetable arranged to allow D to study 3 Highers which he successfully gained.
  • These arrangements kept D's options open if he was not signed for AFC.  He wanted 3 Highers to either attend college or take up an apprenticeship and was successful in Design and Manufacture C, English C and PE A.

Student E (S6 – 19/20)

  • MidYIS of 101
  • During S4 undertook a level 5 SfW Childcare alongside a full complement of school subjects
  • Attained in S4 6 National 4s and her Level 5 in Childcare
  • In S5 has chosen the Foundation Apprenticeship Children and Young People and is undertaking work experience as part of this experience
  • Also in S5 she is undertaking 4 National 5s
  • E aspires to become a Primary Teacher and will probably undertake the 2 +2 model. Will have S6 to take Highers for a possible straight entry to university- despite this being possible she says she would prefer to go to college first.

Student F

  • MidYIS of 126
  • S4 Attainment: 3 As 1B and 2 Cs at National 5
  • S5 completed extended flexible work placement at OEM every Wednesday afternoon
  • After a taste of employment F lost a taste for the classroom experience
  • After impressing in his work placement he was offered a full- time apprenticeship instead of S6
  • S5 attainment- Higher B C & D and a National 5 B & D
  • F is currently continuing his Modern Apprenticeship with OEM Group, an oilfield services company, at Badentoy Park in Portlethen

Student G

  • G was a pupil who showed great potential in S1 – S3 and involved himself in the life of the school by playing for the school football team and taking up opportunities to go on school trips offered during Get Out Of School Experience weeks.
  • Towards the end of S3, G struggled to find a work experience placement but ultimately secured a placement with Aberdeen FC's Community Trust. This opportunity fundamentally changed his career aspirations and shaped the remainder of his school days at Portlethen Academy.
  • G enjoyed the experience so much that upon completion of the week he had agreed that he would continue to work with the Trust on a voluntary basis. throughout his S4 in which he followed a traditional curricular offer, securing five National 5 qualifications at Grade A (Biology, Drama, English, Mathematics and PE) and one at Grade B (Modern Studies).
  • Whilst doing so G completed hours of volunteering with Aberdeen FC Community Trust which was marked with a Saltire Award, eventually completing 500 hours of volunteering, turning down paid employment along the way in order to achieve this.
  • In S5 G continued in the same vein, securing 5 Higher qualifications at Grade A (Biology, English, Media Studies, Modern studies and PE), while continuing to volunteer during his spare time.
  • By S6, G had decided that he wanted to follow his new found passion in Sports Science and aim to study Sport and Exercise Science at University.
  • Due to the fantastic leadership qualities G had demonstrated, he was appointed as a School Captain and agreed as part of his curriculum to spend one day a week working on a project with the Community Trust. G studied and passed two Advanced Highers in Modern Studies (A) and Biology (B) as well as adding a further Higher qualification in Drama (C) to compliment his work experience.
  • G is now in his Second Year studying Sports Science at Stirling University. He recently returned to Portlethen Academy to speak at our Senior Phase Achievement Ceremonies where he shared that whilst at University he has continued to add to his experience by working as the Head of Performance Analysis at both Falkirk Football Club and latterly Stenhousemuir Football Club as well as finding the time to write blogs / articles about the Music scene for LFM Magazine.
  • Further to this G continues to use his spare time during the summer holidays working with Aberdeen Football Club Community Trust to enhance the opportunities available to young people in the North East of Scotland.

Student H

Subject Level Result
Biology National 5 A
French National 5 A
Health & Food Technology National 5 A
English National 5 B
Maths National 5 B
Modern Studies National 5 A
Subject Level Result
Health & Food Technology Higher A
English Higher B
Physical Education National 5 A
Biology Higher C
Enterprise & Employability NPA level 5 Pass
Subject Level Result
French Higher
Physical Education Higher
Children & Young People Foundation Apprenticeship level 6
Health & Food Advanced Higher
  • 8 @ level 5, 6 @ level 6, 1 @ level 7
  • Midyis Baseline 105 (Skills 143)
  • Quiet, conscientious pupils throughout school years, although lacked confidence in early stages. 
  • S4 pleased with results and planned to work towards career in Speech & Language Therapy.
  • S5 Maths – didn't pursue as struggled with this subject and had a tutor since S3. Realised H Maths needed for S&L Therapy so automatically thought it would no longer be an option. Still keen to work with children in some way, considered Teaching.
  • S5 placement at Hillside Primary every Monday afternoon for NPA brought about a fuller awareness of Teaching (which doesn't require H Maths). Considered leaving school at end of S5 as wasn't sure what the purpose or what would be gained in S6. However, after spending all the time at school on placement, started to wonder if it was definitely what she wanted to do and didn't want to commit to that alone.
  • In discussions with PTGs and Subject Choice Sheet, realised the FA sounded an ideal option which would support an application to teaching but gave breadth to other options such as S&L Therapy again through the work place experience.
  • Liked the more practical almost relaxed way of learning – enjoyed having different teacher and working with people in the workplace. "It doesn't feel like a class as you are treated like an adult and it almost doesn't feel like learning as you're just doing it naturally as you work."
  • Doesn't want to go straight to Uni but keen to do 2+2 – college course locally here along with other commitments (Cheerleading & HipHop Dance Classes).
  • Mum & Dad split last year so wants more time to spend with them too.

S4 Leavers – 2 students (A and J)

A joined Portlethen Academy in S1 and presented sometimes challenging behaviours and had relationship difficulties with other pupils and staff. Her Midyis score (86) and transition information on attainment suggested she would struggle academically.

  • S1 Career Presentation using My World of Work for research A identified hair and beauty as the area she wanted to work in.
  • Various DYW inputs to year group included one during S2 focused on Maths in the Workplace. Amongst other presenters a Hairdresser outlined this to A's class and spoke directly with her.
  • S3 curriculum tailored to practical and hands on options where feasible and those that would feed into college and subject choices in S4.
  • Visit to NESCOL in S3 to build confidence.
  • Work Experience at start of S4 in Tiffany Hair and Beauty in Aberdeen.
  • S4 course included Hair and Beauty course at NESCOL 1 day a week and N4 courses linked to career aspirations
  • o English
  • o Applications of Maths (practical emphasis)
  • o Art and Design 
  • o Biology and Chemistry for the scientific aspects of the job
  • o A also had time in our Support Centre to support her subjects
  • Leaving school as planned to undertake full time course in Beauty Therapy at NESCOL
  • Significant reduction in behaviour referrals and a more confident and happier young person

S4 Leaver Case Study J

  • J 's Midyis score (88) and transition information on attainment suggested he would struggle academically. He was shy and lacked confidence.

During S1 Career Presentation using My World of Work for research J identified that he was interested in a trade but did not have a specific area in mind.

  • Various DYW inputs to year group included one during S2 focused on Maths in the Workplace. Amongst other presenters were a group from the construction industry who spoke about the use of maths in their trades.
  • S3 curriculum tailored to practical and hands on options where feasible and those that would feed into college and subject choices in S4.
  • Visit to NESCOL in S3 to build confidence
  • Work Experience at start of S4 with an Electrician in Aberdeen
  • S4 course covered
    • Construction Crafts level 4 at NESCOL
    • N4 Maths
    • N5 Drama
    • N5 English
    • N5 History
    • N5 Practical Metalwork
  • He picked up 2 PC passport units as well, through RMPS in Web Apps: Presentations and Word Processing
  • J left school as planned at the end of S4 and is now an apprentice plumber. He has significantly developed his confidence and has returned to school to update us on his progress.

Kingussie High School 

The Highland Council                                                                                                                                                      

Section 1

Roll: 401

Socioeconomic context/SIMD: Rural secondary with ASN specialist provision covering large geographical area – 350+ young people (87%) bussed in every day.  Majority of pupils in SIMD 6 in a range from 4 to 9. 

"We are an ambitious school in the heart of the Cairngorm National Park"


Significant work has been done on the curriculum at Kingussie High School over the last six years to ensure that we have a curriculum that is relevant to the skills and needs of our pupils, the local community and globally to allow our pupils to transition into a range of positive destinations. We believe that Curriculum Drives Attainment  [link] and the subjects and delivery of subjects has changed greatly in this time. (possible option form). We offer traditional values but a modern approach.  We have a strong focus on support for young people.  We support learners through the use of our local environment and appropriate technology.  We have strong partnership delivery with local and international links. We aim to maximise the range and progression of educational opportunities offered in the curriculum, given the constraints in staffing and resources for a school of this size.  Evolving our curriculum offer from knowing our learners and their interests and skill set. Skills focus throughout BGE and Senior Phase shaped by desirable global skills and importantly transferable skills to work locally.  


  • Curriculum is designed to promote the four capacities.  
  • A broad general education with some personalisation and choice in the first three years (S1-3)
  • A Senior Phase (S4-6) which leads all students to achieve success in appropriate national exams and qualifications.
  • Strong focus and investment in ensuring each pupil takes the correct pathway for them from the wider offer so time and resource given to individual Senior Phase planning.
  • School of Shinty and School of Rugby both built into the curriculum.
  • Assembly and pupil support time is an integrated part of the curriculum.
  • We offer electives in the Broad General Education (some of these are stage-not-age electives).
  • Thursday afternoon is a flexible provision to support the Broad General Education (BGE).
  • We timetable S4 - S6 together.
  • S4 students take Higher awards if they are appropriate (again stage-not-age).
  • We run three different types of interlocking Senior Phase timetables.
  • Some of our courses run on a Saturday (for example, Drama through Eden Court).
  • We have made a considerable and long term investment in digital technologies.
  • Partners work with us to deliver many of our courses. 
  • We provide a comprehensive extra-curricular and community programme to extend the curriculum.
  • See also Section 2 details.


  • More engaged young people. 
  • Increased attainment 
  • Double number of pupils accessing higher education post KHS in five years
  • High positive destination figures
  • More links with local businesses and employers
  • KHS skills equip pupils to work locally, nationally and globally
  • First School of Shinty in Scotland fostering positive links with local shinty clubs and local community
  • See also Section 3 examples.

Section 2


  • S1: all pupils have common core curriculum 
  • S2: addition of elective column to allow short course (8 weeks) choice eg Geography – Outdoor Learning; Technology (Sustainability);
  • S3: meeting between pupil and either a member of guidance or SMT. Parents invited -during school hours - to plan S4 – S6 progression. SDS involved in this process.  
  • S3: two elective columns – allows exploration of subject in depth. Taster sessions for possible SP choice. 
  • S1 – S3: Flexible afternoon: allows for IDL (eg Outdoor Learning); 
  • o interviews in S3 in preparation for SP choices. 

Senior Phase

  • Moved from an offer of 20 options to 2013 to 46 by 2018.
  • Delivery from partners to allow more options on choice form: Childcare, Rural Skills, Business
  • S4 – S6 timetabled as one (so, for example, S4 pupil can take Higher award if appropriate)
  • 6 column structure
  • Expectation of 6 choices in both S4 and S5 ( and minimum of 5 in S6)
  • College learning
  • Work based learning
  • Foundation Apprenticeships
  • Saturday course options eg N5 and H Drama, H Dance at Eden Court.
  • Use of open and distance learning with UHI, OU
  • S6 options: access to 2 HNC (level 7) eg Architectural Technology; and to 10 degree modules eg Intro to Business Law.  

Section 3

Pupil A has always been extremely keen on sport from the day he arrived at KHS. His ideal career would have been a P.E teacher but his academic ability in the BGE highlighted concerns that he might not achieve the requirements to access the course. This proved to be the case but with careful planning at the S3 Pathway Meeting we looked at courses that would allow him to have a chance of gaining the Highers that he would need for P.E teaching at the same time gaining additional courses that could allow him to pursue another career in sport.

Pupil A is now doing a tennis apprenticeship locally where he intends to qualify and then set up his own tennis academy.

His learner journey was as follows: 

S4 subject choices : 

  • N5 English - A
  • N5 Maths - D
  • N5 Physical Education - A
  • N5 Biology - C
  • N5 French - C
  • N5 Geography - D

S5 subject choices

  • Higher English - B
  • Higher Human Biology – Units only
  • Higher Physical Education - A
  • N5 Geography – B (repeat) 
  • N5 Maths - C (Repeat)
  • N5 Modern Studies - B

S6 Subject Choices

  • N5 Maths - B (repeat again)
  • Coaching & Developing Sport HNC - Pass (co delivered with UHI)
  • N5 Sport & Recreation - Pass
  • NCL6 Activity Tourism – Pass

Pupil B was identified as one of our PEF pupils. Her passion is working with young children and she was always keen to go on to do this as a career post school. One of our issues at KHS is the number of pupils who struggle to access the college courses on offer due to the distance from Kingussie to Inverness and the problem with bus times.  Pupils would have to leave at 7am to access the  college and return at 6pm. To alleviate this issue we formed a partnership with UHI where one of their lecturers would come to Kingussie High School for a day and deliver Early Year in Childcare to our pupils. We did this on a biannual basis to make it sustainable.

Pupil B passed the Early Years in Chidcare course and is now working in a local nursery. A huge part of her development at school was a meaningful work experience over S5 and S6 where she would go to a local primary school to work with young children  developing her skills and giving her a taste of what the job is like.

S4 Subject Choices

  • N5 Biology – C
  • N5 English – C
  • N5 French – B
  • N5 Maths – B
  • N5 Modern Studies – C
  • N4 Music – Pass

S5 Subject Choices

  • Higher English – B
  • Higher French – C
  • Higher Human Biology – No award
  • Higher Maths – No award
  • N5 Psychology – A

S6 Subject Choices

  • N5 Creative Industries – Pass
  • N5 Hospitality – B
  • Early Years in Childcare – Pass

Pupil C is still currently at KHS  (Nov 2019) and is in her final year. She identified in S3 that she wants to be a social worker when she finishes school. Midway through her S4 she took ill and her schooling was interrupted. Her guidance teacher worked closely with her and her family to best support her with school work and her subjects were changed because of this. She was encouraged to do a Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Care & Young People which is a two year course. She is really enjoying this and with consultation with universities they are happy to accept this as part of her entry requirements. She is on course to fulfil her wish of becoming a social worker. Due to her illness in S4 we looked to gain her  National 4 Maths and a Level 5 Numeracy award as her interrupted learning meant she had missed too much in Maths to sit the final  N5 exam.

S4 Subject Choices

  • N5 English – C
  • N5 History – B
  • N5 Numeracy – Pass
  • N5 Travel & Tourism – Pass (this also gains L5 Literacy award)
  • Higher Health & Food Technology – No Award
  • L5 Numeracy – Pass
  • L5 Literacy – Pass

S5 Subjects

  • Higher English – B
  • Higher Modern Studies – B
  • N5 Applications of Maths – C
  • N5 Psychology – B
  • Foundation Apprenticeship Social Care & Young People – over two years

S6 Subjects

  • Higher History – Currently studying
  • N5 Spanish – Currently studying
  • Higher Health & Food Technology – Currently studying
  • Higher Modern Studies – Currently studying
  • Foundation Apprenticeship Social Care & Young People – Into second year

Newbattle High School


Section 1

New building - opened Nov 2018 

Current roll 900. Projected 1031 2020-21

Socioeconomic/SIMD: Over three quarters of our young people come from Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation one to four (2018-19, SSR2 data), but we firmly believe that this will not impact on their education experience, opportunities and the attainment gap will be closed.  Our SIMD profile is changing as more students enrol with us as their local school where previously they enrolled out of catchment.

Decile 1 Decile 2 Decile 3 Decile 4 Decile 5 Decile 6 Decile 7 Decile 8 Decile 9 Decile 10
0.45 27.34 38.87 11.86 0.23 8.36 9.04 0.23 3.39 0.23
66.6% 3.85%


Over 40% of learners have an additional support need (41.6%) and we have a free school meal entitlement above National average at 22%.  Included in our school profile is a large number of young people in kinship care, care experienced (at 5.9% current and 7% including previous), residential unit pupils and a number of significant child protection cases (live and historic).  A large proportion of our senior pupils also work whilst at school.

"Career ready, college ready, university ready and digitally ready"


Strong school vision developed with school community and partners. A full school community consultation took place in June 2017.  For the month of June, HT was protected and transitioned with the previous Head Teacher.  This allowed a review of the school through self-evaluative processes to create a forward leadership plan in consultation with staff, pupils, parent/carers and the wider community.  For example, information was gathered from:

  • Data on the school (patterns, trends, context of area, INSIGHT, attendance, exclusions…)
  • 76% SIMD 1-4
  • Over one third Additional Support Needs
  • Above average Free School Meal entitlement at 21%
  • High levels of disengagement and exclusion e.g. 152 exclusions in 2014 (54 pupils)
  • 85% attendance
  • Trends emerged that over a third of pupils (41%) entered directly into employment, yet the curriculum was set up for students aspiring to University only (15%).  Around three quarters of young people, only, stayed on in either S5 or S6
  • Meeting all staff one-to-one and then in faculties
  • Meeting parent/carer groups
  • Meeting pupil focus groups
  • Meeting community partners
  • Observing school practices and systems in action
  • Consulting with partners e.g. Scottish Government, Education Scotland, Edinburgh University, Edinburgh College and businesses among others

Consultation also involved specific events involving pupils (Primary through to S6 with Edinburgh University Professor Holly Linklater leading), parents/carers, partners and staff.   Results backed up initial evidence, need for:  

  • More appropriate courses for S4 to attain and achieve
  • Merge S4 as senior pupils in stage of learning and not confined to their age
  • Too many subjects having a detrimental effect on the motivation of pupils (large numbers re-coursed or changed presentation levels)
  • Remove column structures which were a barrier to young people's pathways
  • Work-based learning opportunities
  • Strong underpinning for the rationale of a Digital Centre for Excellence
  • Digital literacy to be core in the curriculum


  • All pupils encouraged to stay on until the end of S6 to experience a full Senior Phase.  S4 being part of a three year journey
  • Curriculum will ensure that pupils are "career ready, college ready, university ready and digitally ready"  
  • Design took into account pathways for successful learner journeys, the school day and partner delivery 
  • Created more courses to run that traditionally did not have the uptake 
  • Barriers to accessing courses removed – poverty proofing the school (eg. removing fees for Craft, Design and Technology and Food Technology classes, Music tuition).  It is a free school day 
  • Unique aspects include Digital Literacy, pre-apprenticeship course as a subject choice, S2 and S3 together in employability electives 
  • Change to BGE – employability electives, digital literacy 
  • Changes to Senior Phase – vocationally recognised qualifications (Mountain Bike Mechanics), work-based learning, more partnership working:  pre-apprenticeships, Edinburgh College 
  • See also Section 2 details


The impact of a correct curricular design and strong rationale can be demonstrated through attainment and achievement and has been notable also in the following for 2019:

  • Exclusions have significantly dropped to 6 (no LAAC) [Cf 70 in 2015/16]
  • Attendance increased by close to 5% since 2017
  • Better level of learner engagement in lessons as demonstrated by any guests
  • Best stay on rate ever (91% S4 to S5 and 82% S5 to S6) [Cf. 72% and 69% respectively in 2015/16] 
  • Positive destinations above all of our comparators (VC, Midlothian, SEIC and National).  Employment a better quality using modern apprenticeships in our curriculum.  Also improved University entry by 9% (widening participation) and college entry by another 3%.
  • Increased effective partnership working e.g. Edinburgh University shared resources, businesses, College delivery onsite, etc
  • See also Section 3 examples

Section 2 


  • Clear pathways mapped out from S1 breadth and S2/S3 options to post -school e.g.  Hospitality;  FinTech Digital.
  • S2 and S3 come together in classes in employability electives for 2 periods per week: choice of over 24. 
  • Examples include: Digital Design and App Development; Construction; Mountain Bike, Drone Academy, Horse Care, Sound Production; Language Ambassadors. 
  • Choice element at S3. Continued access to all curricular areas but choosing e.g. 1 social studies subject. 
  • Masterclass option in S3 to study subject areas in more depth e.g. Science with Scientists
  • Digital literacy taught as a core subject across BGE.

Senior Phase

  • Joint S4 to S6 model.
  • S4: 6 subjects (Maths and English +4 from 'your S3 timetable' where possible). 
  • Guided free choice using tracking system and career aspiration.
  • Opening up courses at level 4/5/6 instead of only National 4/5
  • Senior Phase course booklet (S2-S6)
  • Staff encouraged to deliver appropriate course from the full SCQF Framework, e.g. Level 5 Laboratory Skills
  • Level 6 NPAs 
  • Specialist IT/digital teaching
  • Foundation Apprenticeships (S5)
  • Work-Based Learning (leading to Apprenticeships) (S5/6)
  • Guided free choice using tracking system and career aspiration.
  • Opening up courses at level 4/5/6 instead of only National 4/5
  • Over 70 subjects
  • In-school delivery of qualifications in partnership with Edinburgh College.
  • Progression in subjects for the three year Senior Phase linked from BGE

Section 3 

Pupil A

Head girl released 1 day per week to work with Standard Life.  Also received level 5 preparation for employment qualification with this

Offered a MA

Less Highers, but a job with career prospects

Pupil B

Interested in dental nursing. Found a place for work experience where she has undergone qualifications and training in workplace as well as completing a L5 preparation for employment award in school (insight data!) and has been offered an apprenticeship by same dentists

Pupil C

Present S6

School/college partnership in S5 1 day per week in events planning

Now 1 day per week release to Hilton with in-house training accepted worldwide and a range of job prospects in event management

Pupil D

Present S6

School/college partnership in S5 1 day per week in events planning

Now 1 day per week release to Hilton with in-house training accepted worldwide and a range of job prospects in event management

Grove Academy


Section 1

Current roll: 2019/20 – 1259. Projected 2020/21-1265

Socio-economic context: SIMD 1-3 16%, SIMD 8-10 66% FME  9.5% Pupils with ASN 31.4%

Destination of leavers 2018/19: Higher Education 56%, Further Education 21%, Employment 16%

"Honesty, Responsibility, Respect, Fairness, Determination"


The curriculum has undergone significant changes since 2016/17. The has been influenced by staff involved in the Developing Young Workforce working group and more recently the Curriculum Working group. The developments have also been shaped by labour market information and engagement with employers and representatives from Further and Higher Education. In addition, the school has examined a range of approaches taken both nationally and internationally and this has shaped the growing focus on interdisciplinary (IDL) and project based learning (PBL) approaches to promoting employability. This is being further promoted by the introduction of an Employability Portfolio to capture and record the development of key employability skills. This is based on a Grove Academy Employability Skills Sets which has been developed following engagement and consultation with stakeholders. The developments in the curriculum have aimed to provide a wider and more relevant range of pathways linked to the aspirations of pupils and opportunities in the local labour market. The main focus initially has been on pathways in 4 core sectors: Engineering and Construction, Creative Industries, Hospitality and Tourism and Sports and Recreation. This has now expanded to a fifth pathway in Health and Social Care. This has resulted in the introduction of a wider range of vocational qualifications, industry standard certification and project based learning approaches. These aim to ensure the school addresses the full range of aspirations of pupils whilst also ensuring pupils are prepared with the skills and attributes, and can also access the greater variety of routes into Higher Education. Allied to these developments has been the introduction of opportunities for work-based learning.

Design and ongoing development

The initial focus of development has been in the Senior Phase. This has resulted in a significant expansion of courses on offer. In addition, we have engaged with partners to co-design bespoke courses in Construction, Engineering, Hospitality and Sports and Leisure. To support this timetable structures and course choice processes have been adapted to promote collaboration with partners such as D&A College, NCR, SFA and Apex Hotels. In particular school timetables and structures have been adapted to articulate with the delivery of vocational programs in the FE sector and also to ensure a degree of parity of esteem.  Pupils have a wide range of options beyond traditional National Qualifications such as HNCs, NPAs, Skills for Work, National Certificate and PDAs. Pupils also have the gain Fitness Instructor, Life Guard and Sport Coaching certification.  Foundation Apprenticeships (FA) options have expanded – some, such as Civil Engineering, are hosted in the school. A notable success has been the impact of a skills focused project-based Engineering Program, developed in conjunction with HE and local employers.  All pupils in S5/6 have additional opportunities for personalisation and choice through a program of electives that focus on work-based learning, employability, Wider Personal Achievement and Health and Wellbeing. The longer-term aspiration is to provide all pupil with an employability focused and interdisciplinary project-based learning experience in their final year in school. 

More recent developments have concentrated on the BGE (S1 to S3). We have increased the opportunities for specialisation in S3 to provide greater coherence for the transition into Senior Phase and also introduced options via Masterclass and IDL to support learner journeys and pathways as well as the ongoing development of employability skills. The information provided to pupils and parents has been revamped to support a focus on coherent pathways and progression through the Senior Phase and beyond with further development aiming to focus on longer term career planning. The structure of the school day for pupils in S1 and S2 was to be adapted for next session to promote greater collaboration across subjects but this may have to be postponed due to the ongoing pandemic. The initial plans for this involved the creation of a 4 semester model where pupils had the opportunity for more concentrated learning experiences centred on STEM, Creative Industries, Humanities and Business and also Health and Wellbeing. All pupils in S2 and 3 participate in timetabled IDL (currently linked to Media, Computer games, Architecture and Design and Sport and Leisure)

  • See also Section 2 details


  • Increased uptake of pupils choosing vocational or other options: 18 pupils participated in the city wide Senior Phase program with D&A college 2015/16 rising to 158 pupils in 2020/21. 
  • Increasing numbers of pupils are opting for FAs and also other courses delivered within the school. Almost all pupils who participated in the S4 plumbing/electrical program had progressed onto related programs in FE or directly into apprenticeships. This has included the first female pupils in plumbing and also the FA in Civil Engineering. 
  • Increased engagement from pupils on programs such as the plumbing/electrical program in S4 - similar cohorts previously would have had greater absence and behaviour issues. 
  • Modern Languages has seen significant improvement in uptake in S4 following introduction of the Modern languages for life and work Award, doubling uptake in French and tripling in German. 
  • Number of Notable successes for individuals and groups accessing the full range of options- S6 pupil participating on the Commonwealth War Graves Program secured internship with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Belgium. 
  • Advance Engineering Program won the UK heats of the international Marine Advanced Technological Education competition in 2018 and 2019 and represented the UK in the world finals in the USA on both occasions. Following the victory in 2018, in 2019 we were allowed to submit two teams and these teams came first and second
  • Some of the girls participating in the FA in Civil Engineering were chosen for the Skills Development Scotland campaign to boost FA uptake.
  • Increased bespoke programs have resulted in increased qualifications and destinations for those pupils
  • Wider engagement of staff in planning and delivery of IDL 
  • Positive destinations improved from 93% to 97% between 2017/18 and 2018/19.
  • Exclusion rates fell from 39 incidents per 1000 in 2017 to 3 incidents  per 1000 in 2019.
  • Increase in attainment: 2017-  5+ at level 6 – 41% (S6 based on S4 roll) moving to 49% gaining  5+ at level 6 – 49% in 2019. 
  • Percentage of leavers attaining SCQF level 5 in Literacy and Numeracy improved year on year from 2017 and overtook its virtual comparator and local and national averages in 2019.
  • Between 2016/7 and 2018/19 the attainment of pupils in lower SIMD categories improved significantly. Eg, S6 pupils in SIMD 3,4,5 moved to above the national trend and were also on par with attainment of those in SIMD 6-10.
  • Over 50 pupils attained industry standard certification such as National Pool Lifeguard Qualification, Fitness Instructor Level 2 Qualification or SFA Coaching Qualification.
  • Over the past 3 years nearly 50 pupils have participated in skills focused project based programs such as our Advance Engineering Program. Feedback from employers (NCR) indicates participants have greater skills than many graduates.  Pupils who participated in  session 19/20  received unconditional offers of places to universities despite not having the minimum entry grade requirements.  
  • See also Section 3 examples.


Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

Established August 2016

Section 1

Socioeconomic context/SIMD: e-Sgoil operates across Scotland and is committed to addressing inequalities wherever they exist and in whatever form they present e.g. poverty, rurality, access to services etc.

"Cosnadh, Canan, Cultar, Coimhearsnachd, Curraicealam"

(Employment, Language, Culture, Community, Curriculum)


Since its inception, e-Sgoil's main driver has been to enhance equity in terms of subject choice for all pupils, irrespective of geographic location. It was also envisaged as a means of addressing teacher recruitment issues by allowing for flexible work opportunities in key subject areas. On receipt of funding from the Scottish Government and Bòrd na Gàidhlig, e-Sgoil's remit took on a national dimension and it is now tasked with supporting all local authorities experiencing staffing and timetabling challenges.

e-Sgoil's geographic footprint has grown year on year as it seeks to develop and adapt so as to address the poverty of opportunity which can often be part of the pupil experience – especially in the more remote and rural parts of Scotland. Utilising digital tools & platforms, e-Sgoil has sought to both enhance and enrich the pupil experience by looking to remove the barriers which restrict choice for young people. 


  • Engagement protocols, policies and procedures are being updated regularly to ensure that provision is as flexible and responsive as possible to the needs of pupils and staff. 
  • The Head Teacher is now the lead for e-learning across the Northern Alliance and a management structure consisting of Digital Deputies staff from across the Northern Alliance is in place and working effectively.
  • The e-Sgoil Management Board structure currently consists of Director of Education (Western Isles Islands Council), Head of Education (The Highland Council), Director of Children's Services (Shetland Islands Council), Head of Education (Argyll & Bute) and Director of Education (Orkney Islands Council). Highland Council & Shetland Islands Council have both appointed an Operational Lead to join e-Sgoil's Management Team. A local delivery plan along with a plan for e-Sgoil expansion across the Northern Alliance has been agreed. Details can be found in The Northern Alliance Digital Learning Development Plan 2019-20 and the e-Sgoil Development Plan 2019-20
  • See also section 2 details


  • e-Sgoil currently has capacity to deliver a wide range of subjects.
  • e-Sgoil has to date supported 37 different schools across 9 local authorities. 
  • e-Sgoil has to date had direct engagement from 22 out of 32 Scottish Local Authorities. 

Over the last two years we have supported the Welsh Government in setting up their own version of e-Sgoil in order to enhance the range of subjects available in remote and rural areas and the number of subjects available through the medium of Welsh. There has also been dialogue with educationalists from Japan, USA, Ireland, Rafiq Mahdood and the Philippines. 

  • Increase in Instrumental Tuition Service has resulted in: an increased number of pupils being taught; a reduction in tutor time spent travelling;  enhanced opportunities for pupils performing at the same level to play together across schools, and an increase of 10% in staff salaries within context of static budgets.
  • A recent trial of a programme for Interrupted Learners accessing lessons from home from across Scotland gave very positive outcomes for the young people involved. 
  • Through partnership working, e-Sgoil has increased the number of pupils engaged in live lessons through collaboration with key partners such as Keep Scotland Beautiful, SCILT and SCHOLAR
  • e-Sgoil has developed online pedagogy from the experience they now have in identifying best practice for staff delivering live online teaching.  
  • In order to share best practice and information on e-Sgoil a suite of leaflets have been developed.  There have been invaluable in sharing information and clarifying what e-sgoil has to offer.
  • See also section 3 examples.

Section 2


e-Sgoil has developed a number of innovative curricular inputs for BGE.  

The Instrumental Music Service now provides a more varied offer to schools by using a blend of face-to-face and Vscene lessons. 

 'Dileab' is an ambitious, inter-generational, project which celebrates the language, culture and history of the Western Isles. The first phase consisted of a series of concerts involving artists from across all of our communities and culminated with a performance at Celtic Connections in Glasgow. Over 90 pupils and adults performed to an audience in Glasgow at Celtic Connections.  The performance was also livestreamed. 

The next phase of the Dileab programme has consisted of on-line ceilidhs in which pupils, Instrumental Music Teachers and members of the community have performed to in excess of 16,000 viewers.

Using technology, e-Sgoil was able to deploy a Modern Language Assistant to provide equitable access to live, interactive L2 French lessons for P6 /7 pupils across the authority. The initiative proved so successful that it features on the British Council website as an example of best practice.

Through e-Sgoil schools in the Western Isles and Shetland were able to join up for an 'Uphelly Aa' project which linked the islands together allowing pupils in both locations to learn about and share their respective  history and culture. 

Senior Phase

e-Sgoil currently has capacity to support and deliver a range of Senior Phase courses. These include work based learning qualifications such as Foundation Apprenticeships, a range of Gaelic medium courses and Music Instrumental Tuition.

Subjects include: Art, Biology, Bith-Eolas (GM Biology), Business Studies, Chemistry, Computing Science, Eachdraidh (GM History), English, French, Gaelic, Gàidhlig (Fluent), German, Graphic Communication, History, Home Economics, Modern Studies, , Nuadh-Eòlas (GM Modern Studies), Physics, Primary Education, Psychology, Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies, Science, Spanish and Tech. Studies.  

Section 3

Higher Psychology Pupil, 

Sgoil Lionacleit    

'e-Sgoil is a great new way for making classes easier to access and a more advanced way of learning through the internet.'  

Higher GaelicPupil, 

Banchory Academy   

'e-Sgoil's been brilliant for me, I've wanted to learn Gaelic for years and now I can! I really enjoy the lessons especially as it's video calling and not talking over the phone where I wouldn't be as comfortable.'  

Nat 5 Gaelic  

Adult Learner    

I'm loving the whole course as far as content / structure is concerned. Highly recommended! Good fun. Super instructions by my tutor. She is making everything "make sense". FAB!!!!! :)  

Higher BiologyPupil, 

Tiree High School   

'I feel that it is an amazing resource and I would not be able to do my Higher Biology has it not been for e-Sgoil. I am also lucky enough to have an amazing teacher'

S3 HistoryPupil, 

Sandwick Junior High School  

'It is good to use different methods of learning as it broadens your learning so that you are not just writing notes in a class and being bored. But with this it, in my opinion, works better than the older learning techniques.'  

Pupil testimonials in relation to the Interrupted Learners Programme.  Charlotte's story   Aimee's story   Teachers Perspective  

Teacher of the Interrupted Learners Programme. 

I'm enjoying teaching the girls. They have very high anxiety and it's been good to just take it very slowly with just the two of them. I hope that when we have new people joining us it won't upset the apple cart. The technology is a bit of a challenge but we are getting there. I'm getting a better sense of how best to work with the pupils as we go on so if you are hoping to roll this project out a bit more I think I have some ideas of what we need to do to make it an effective learning experience. 

Calderglen High School

South Lanarkshire 

Section 1

Current roll:  1403

Socioeconomic context:   36% SIMD 1-4, concentration of pupils in SIMD 3-6. G74 postcode masks considerable poverty due to sub-letting in higher deciles;  over 25% Additional Support Needs; Free School Meal entitlement at 17.2%; 27% over 16 year olds access Educational Maintenance Allowance;  Attendance Figures 91.1%

"Working Together to Inspire Learning and Shape the Future"


Vision developed by the Curriculum Architecture Group (CAG) at the inception of the school in 2007.  Vision is the foundation upon which curriculum is built. Team of teachers across a range of promotion levels, experience and age made up CAG. Worked in consultation with the wider staff, parent council and the wider parent body to arrive at a model which suited the needs of the pupils the school serves. 

Business and other sector partners informed discussions and were an asset in consultations and in ongoing curriculum development. 

Current curriculum model informed by considerable amount of research which included discussions and visits with schools in UK and internationally.   A 3 year project with 2 schools in Italy and 1 in Poland with the focus on Raising the Achievement of all learners in an inclusive setting highlighted our curriculum as the key driver in meeting the needs of all and our case study has shaped policy and practice in this area across Europe.  Curriculum is centred around ensuring the holistic development of every child and designed to enable young people develop the four capacities. All pupils are supported and challenged to reach their full potential. At all stages a very clear strategy in place to allow the development of skills for life learning and work. Facilitated by fully using the 4 contexts for learning. The interdisciplinary (IDL) experience of pupils is varied and progressive across the BGE and allows development of a range of skills including creativity and critical thinking. Literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing firmly embedded as responsibility of all staff. The extensive use of a range of partners local, national and global including local business, parents and former pupils to support learning enhances the experience of pupils and provides a real life context to their learning.  Strong focus on wellbeing, growth mindset approaches and attention to tackling gender relevant issues eg such as impact on subject choice. Great success in extending partnerships through Calderglen Alumni where former pupils are not only contributing to information on new and emerging courses and apprenticeships but are also co-delivering projects and inter-disciplinary learning activities.  This is inspiring younger pupils and engaging them well in becoming better-informed to make good subject choices. 

Design and ongoing development

At all stages the curriculum has a strong focus on the development of the child and their learner pathways and offers bespoke provision for individuals and groups of learners. Pupil voice has a clear role in shaping the curriculum. Vocational, skills based courses offered as Masterclass in BGE have been developed into Qualifications in the Senior Phase. There is a strong emphasis on the continued development of new courses within the Senior Phase. Our suite of qualifications is continually being updated and refreshed in line with relevant pathways for pupils and takes account of current labour market trends. Introduced 11+ new courses over last few years from BGE into Senior Phase. This allows all pupils to access a range of relevant qualifications to including National Qualifications as well as the range of qualifications within the SCQF framework, which ensure that by the point of exit pupils have gained the skills and qualifications they need to ensure a positive sustained destination.  Attention paid to ensuring relevance of subjects eg linking Modern Languages to DYW work. 

Over the last 2 years our work with the 2 schools in Italy and one in Poland, as part of a European Agency Project, informed changes in our curriculum, such as early embrace of Foundation Apprenticeships which is now part of our core provision , continuous increased delivery of N2/3 courses and literacy and numeracy programmes  with Sanderson High, increased use of collegiate time and professional learning opportunities as a joint campus. It also reinforced for us that any curriculum offer has to ensure the outcome of raising achievement of all learners in an inclusive setting. The project work confirmed that our promotion of learning in real life contexts supported learner pathways well.   Our expectation is for learning to be set in real-life contexts from S1-S6 and through the 4 contexts for learning. Our curricular model is constantly being evaluated and updated to ensure it continues to be effective in meeting the needs of changing groups of learners.  

  • See also Section 2 detail.


  • Insight data shows an increase in the % of pupils achieving a higher level of literacy and numeracy at the point of exit from school 
  • Increased bespoke programmes for pupils leading to increased qualifications and destinations for those pupils. 
  • Pupils leaving with more total tariff points that virtual comparators. This is particularly evident in the lower achieving cohorts in S4, S4 & S6 (Closing the gap)
  • Leavers destinations are in the top 10 in Scotland
  • Increasingly effective partnerships are shaping our thinking around a curriculum fit for purpose as well as an awareness of skills deficit and what we can do to address it.
  • All Faculties now engage with partners to support skills development and shape curriculum offer
  • Summer placements, social mobility funding and Introduction to Workplace Skills courses are helping to close the gap for our most vulnerable. In the current session 6 of our S5 students, including a learner with additional support needs have been offered Placements with the Nuffield Research Centre.
  • The number of girls opting for PE has increased by 25% by introducing aesthetics PE, in which the activity has a different focus.
  • GRADU 8 school College Programme has an increased uptake
  • IDL had increased the engagement of young people with additional support needs
  • Increase in number of girls choosing STEM subjects in S3. 2017/18 40% UCAS applications for STEM – 55% of these were girls. 
  • Increase on uptake of Modern Languages – ahead of comparator trends.
  • Influencing wider curriculum policy as part of the European Agency Project.
  • In August 2019 17.86% of S5 (45 pupils) achieved 5 Highers up from 13.71% in 2018.  22.7% of the year group achieved 5 Highers. The South Lanarkshire Council average was 16.82%   Calderglen have bucked the trend on Higher achievement this year and it is thought that this is due to a number of factors:
    • Clear progression from S4 and extensive tracking of where young people's achievement linked to projected grades
    • Whole school value on not 'dropping' young people when things seem insurmountable
    • Bespoke pathways for all, but most especially for young people at risk
    • Personalised support
    • Recognising the natural exit point for a child – some young people exiting at end of S4 to go into FE or training/employment because it suits the young person.  It does have an impact on numbers in S5 and beyond though
    • A very adaptive, fluid curriculum – changing year to year to meet learners' needs
    • A feeling that S6 data lowers the data as they do not come back interested in attainment
  • Eight S5 pupils completed 1st year of a foundation apprenticeship but will not complete fully until 2020.   Result goes through college and SLC working on dual credit between college and school.
  • 27 young people undertaking 2 year FA this year, to be resulted in 2021
  • See also Section 3 examples

Section 2


  • Planned as a three year model.
  • Using BGE to shape the Senior Phase offer.
  • S1 and S2 : covering curriculum areas as follows; English, Maths. Mod Languages, Social subjects,  Science, Art, Drama, Technical, IT, Music, HE.
  • Development of design thinking skills at S1.
  • IDL projects – eg STEM, entrepreneurship, global citizenship.
  • S3 – English , Maths, ModLang, Social Subjects, Science, + 3 additional electives (from the other curriculum areas)  + 2 Masterclasses per year 
  • Masterclass choices: eg Sports Journalism, Leadership Academy, Sound Design, Patisserie, Cosmetology, Child Care.  Some Masterclasses carry accreditation.  Used also to provide learning base for further study and accreditation in Senior Phase. 
  • Bespoke Courses for targeted groups: (Prince's Trust Achieve, Barista, Introduction to Workplace Skills

Senior Phase

  • 3 year model with 7 column choices in S4 and 6 columns over S5 and S6
  • S4: 7 subjects. Compulsory Maths and English +5 other subjects from S3 (+core PE, RMPS and PSE
  • An average of 12% of the S4 cohort leave at end S4.
  • S4 leavers go on to positive destinations with 7 qualifications, additionality from college and Intro to Workplace Skills.
  • ASN S4 pupils studying Intro to workplace skills, delivered in partnership with an employer and involving 150 hours work experience element.  Resulted in post school positive employment destination for some
  • Growing qualification options: eg Cybersecurity, Laboratory sciences, Photography, Cosmetology, Scottish studies, Media studies, Lifeskills Maths, Practical Electronics.
  • Apprenticeship programmes:
  • Foundation Apprenticeships (S5/6): 
  • PSE continues across Senior Phase with opportunities for awards at S5/6
  • Entrepreneurial workshops.
  • Around 20 young people studying employability and enterprise NPA in S5/6 via routes in cosmetology or electronics.  

Section 3

Pupil A – S6

Looked After Children/ foster cared for

Struggled with maths and physics, but keen on engineering

Additional Physics support been put in place and now undertaking second year of an FA to be resulted in 2020 – feels this is more accessible for him as learning is being gained in an applied way

Pupil B – S6

S5: Higher Design & Manufacture D: 

Nat 5 English B: Physics N5 units only: Nat 4 Maths;   FA over 2 – to be resulted on in 2020

Now studying: Nat 5 Maths; H Eng; N5 Physics full course: Foundation Apprenticeship year 2



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