Student and Graduate Publishing

It's SQA Results Day!

Tuesday, 08 August 2017 12:53

Today, on the 8th of August, students in Scotland will be eagerly ripping into envelopes to find out their grades. So, we’re taking a look at the several significant differences between school systems in Britain. 

While English and Welsh schools follow the National Curriculum, children in Scotland study what’s known as the Curriculum for Excellence. Have a read about education in Scotland and how it differs from the English system. 

English students attend secondary school, in Scotland these institutions are called high schools or academies. They spend six years here, split into S1 to 6. These years are the equivalent of Years 8 to 13 in England. Although the time pupils spend at Scottish schools is one year shorter than the English equivalents, they make up for this difference by having university courses that last four years, as opposed to the usual three.  

Although schools in England follow the National Curriculum, a system that is maintained by the government with little flexibility and ensures all students study the same subjects, in Scotland schools follow the Curriculum for Excellence. This differs in that the Scottish government only assigns guidelines to follow, enabling schools to have more freedom with the courses they offer. 

The only set subjects in the Curriculum for Excellence are three core areas: health and wellbeing, literacy and numeracy. Health and wellbeing covers a range of topic areas including physical education, food and health and sexual education. Aside from these obligatory areas, any other subject can be included in a school’s curriculum. The main areas for study include expressive arts, languages, sciences, social studies and technologies. This allows students to follow a more specialised path and develop their individual skill set. Have a read of this BBC article for more information on this curriculum method.  

Finally, there is a difference in the qualifications that Scottish students work towards at school. All students must achieve Nationals, typically at the age of 15, which are equivalent to the English system of GCSEs. Then, Scottish students can work towards Highers, which hold the same value as an AS level on the UCAS tariff. After these are Advanced Highers. These qualifications have the same weighting as the first year of university, which can be used to apply for the second year. 

Interestingly, due to the Scottish National Party’s policy of free university tuition, many Scottish students are now struggling to get places at top universities in Scotland due to the high demand from international students. Have a read of this article on The Telegraph to find out more. 

- By Rebecca Gibson