Curriculum for Excellence

Curriculum for Excellence is the national curriculum for Scottish schools for learners from the ages 3-18[1].

It was developed out of a 2002 consultation exercise – the 'National Debate on Education' – undertaken by the-then Scottish Executive on the state of school education. In response to the National Debate, Ministers established a Curriculum Review Group in November 2003 to identify the purposes of education for the 3-18 age range and to determine key principles to be applied in a redesign the curriculum. Its work resulted in the publication in November 2004 of the document A Curriculum for Excellence.[2] This document identified four key purposes of education; those that enable young people to become, "successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors."

The Curriculum for Excellence was implemented in schools in 2010−11.[3] Its implementation is overseen by Education Scotland.

In Scotland, councils and schools both have some responsibility for what is taught in schools and they must also take national guidelines and advice into account.[4]

A review was undertaken by the OECD, having been commissioned by the Scottish Government to look at the broad general education.[5]


New qualifications were set out in 2014 by the Scottish Qualifications Authority to meet with the Curriculum for Excellence. The new qualifications are National 1, National 2, National 3, National 4, National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher which replaced the former Standard Grade.


Before its introduction, many within the Scottish teaching profession, including the teachers' trade union The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) and its members,[6] believed that the Curriculum for Excellence was vague, in particular regarding its supposed 'outcomes and experiences'. There existed a fear that this imprecision would result in a lack of clarity in what was expected of teachers in the classroom and in the assessment of pupils' progress and attainment.

The original concerns led one of the most educationally successful Scottish local authorities, East Renfrewshire, to delay implementation of the secondary school phase of the new curriculum by one year. Some Scottish independent schools, including St Aloysius' College, in Glasgow, chose to do likewise.[7] St George's School for Girls, an independent school in Edinburgh, decided not to adopt the Curriculum for Excellence and offered the General Certificate of Secondary Education for pupils entering their fourth year (English Year 10) classes from 2013 onwards.


  2. "A Curriculum For Excellence by the Curriculum Review Group". The Scottish Government. 1 November 2004. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  3. Timeline - Process of change - The curriculum in Scotland Archived 26 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  4. McIvor, Jamie (10 July 2013). "Why Scotland doesn't have a national curriculum". Retrieved 26 July 2014.
  5. "OECD passes judgement on Scotland's Curriculum for Excellence". BBC News. 15 December 2015.
  6. "Union concern at new curriculum". BBC News. 8 May 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  7. Denholm, Andrew (23 February 2012). "Leading private school to delay start of new exams". The Herald (Glasgow). Retrieved 27 January 2013.

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