Berwickshire High School


Berwickshire High School Curriculum for Excellence Policy

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Senior Phase Powerpoint Presentation by S.Steele (PDF Document)


  • This document has been written by the senior management team of Berwickshire High School in association with colleagues from national bodies and the Scottish Borders Council. This policy is a policy of intention and informs how Berwickshire High School is developing a learning framework to meet the needs of the school’s community, through consultation with pupils, parents and staff. These discussions will help the school develop its own philosophy and ethos, which underpin the curriculum and will hopefully chime with the school’s vision statement and aims.


  • We at Berwickshire High School seek to cultivate a happy and caring community that fosters a culture of learning where success is celebrated.


  • To create in our school a climate where everyone is recognised and respected
  • To encourage everyone to achieve their goals and dreams
  • To promote a healthy lifestyle which embraces physical, mental and emotional wellbeing amongst all
  • To promote active partnerships with students, parents, staff and the wider community
  • To provide a challenging curriculum for all students at all stages
  • To promote the active involvement of students in teaching and learning,  where there is a shared understanding of the purpose of the lesson


Curriculum for Excellence aims to provide a coherent, more flexible and enriched curriculum to ensure that all children and young people aged between 3 and 18 in Scotland develop the attributes, knowledge and skills they will need to flourish in life, learning and work. The curriculum itself can be defined as the totality of planned learning outcomes and experiences and as a school we have reviewed our new CfE courses [Programmes of Learning] to ensure they are constructed out of the learning outcomes and experiences provided by Learning & Teaching Scotland. It is hoped by experiencing the learning outcomes and experiences of CfE that all students will develop the four capacities to become successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens.


Learning Outcomes and Experiences are organised into levels of greater cognitive challenge.




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 following principles inform the planning of the curriculum particularly that of S1 to S3:

Challenge and Enjoyment – Students should find their learning challenging, engaging and motivating. The curriculum should encourage high aspirations and ambitions for all.

Breadth – Students should have opportunities for a broad, suitably weighted range of experiences. The curriculum should be organised so that they will learn and develop through a variety of contexts within both the classroom and other aspects of school life.

Progression – Students should experience continuous progression in their learning from 3 to 18 within a single curriculum framework. Each stage should build upon earlier knowledge and achievements and students should be able to progress at a rate which meets their needs and aptitudes, and keep options open so that routes are not closed off too early.

Depth - There should be opportunities for students to develop their full capacity for different types of thinking and learning. As they progress, they should develop and apply increasing intellectual rigour, drawing different strands of learning together, and exploring and achieving more advanced levels of understanding.

Personalisation and Choice – The curriculum should respond to individual needs and support particular aptitudes and talents. It should give each student increasing opportunities for exercising responsible personal choice as they move through their school career.

Coherence and Relevance - There should be clear links between the different aspects of students’ learning, including opportunities for extended activities which draw different strands of learning together. Furthermore, young people should understand the purposes of their activities. They should see the value of what they are learning and its relevance to their lives, present and future.



As part of Curriculum for Excellence we have adhered to the principle that all students from S1 to S3 should experience a broad and general education. This means that all students experience all the learning outcomes and experiences up to and including Level 3 before they move onto certificated courses. Within the broad and general education Scottish contexts, culture, history and place in this world have been given emphasis where appropriate.

Secondary 1 (S1)

Berwickshire High School is committed to developing its cross-sectoral links with its six cluster primaries through the three themes of pastoral care; learning and teaching methodology and curriculum content. In this way it is hoped the transition from primary to secondary is as seamless as possible. In fact first year courses at Berwickshire High School have been designed taking into account how and what is taught in the upper primary
school and this development will continue to be informed by future developments.     

In First Year almost all courses are integrated so that pupils will experience the Learning Outcomes and Experiences beyond the single subject and within each curriculum area. For example, this means the subjects of History, Geography and Modern Studies will be taught in an overall integrated course of Social Subjects rather than three separate subjects. Similarly, pupils will experience an integrated Science course as opposed to the three discrete subjects of Biology, Chemistry and Physics and so on. All courses will be taught at CfE Levels 2 and 3 .

 S1 Integrated Courses                                 S1 Non-integrated Courses

Health & Wellbeing (5 Periods)                    Modern Languages (3 Periods)
English & Literacy (4 Periods)            Religious Studies (1 Period)
Maths & Numeracy (4 Periods)                     Citizenship (1 Period)
Science (4 Periods)                                       Social Education (1 Period)
Social Subjects (4 Periods)
Technologies (3 Periods)
Expressive Arts (3 Periods)

Secondary 2 & 3 (S2/3)

At the end of S1 there is a limited Options Process . The benefits of this model are:

  • an avoidance of the S2 “momentum dip”
  • an increase in pace and challenge
  • maintaining the principle of a broad and general education ensuring an enriched experience
  • maintaining discrete subject labels, which prepares the student for the Senior Phase
  • an opportunity for students to explore a particular interest in a given curriculum area

Out of a possible 33 Periods, 15 periods are mandatory core periods and there is subject choice within the remaining 18 periods. There is a choice of 6 subjects and students must choose at least one subject and no more than 2 subjects from each curriculum area. All other subjects have 3 Periods and all courses will be taught at CfE levels 3 and 4 .   

The main mechanisms for maintaining a broad and general education are:

  • S1 integrated Courses
  • Core Periods as found in Science, Physical Education and Health & Well-being
  • Sampling of each Curriculum Area
  • Thematic approaches to learning as found in Social Subjects and Expressive Arts
  • Project approaches as found in Technologies

 Both thematic and project approaches are categorised as different forms of Inter-disciplinary Learning [IDL].

S2/3 Core Subjects

English & Literacy (4 Periods)                         General Science (1 Period)
Maths & Numeracy (4 Periods)                        Religious Studies (1 Period)
Physical Education (3 Periods)                        Social Education (1 Period)
Health & Well-being (1 Period)



The Senior Phase represents the phase of education from S4 to S6 where students have the opportunity to study a number of certificated courses at levels National 4, National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher, in addition to having their learning organised more flexibly where appropriate. This may mean some of a student’s learning may take place at work or college or with a community agency. All students within the Senior Phase will be regarded as a single cohort, which means that it would be probable that students from S4, S5 and S6 would be together in the same subject classroom.  The benefits of this model are:

  • A single cohort will enrich each student’s learning experience

  • There is a positive social benefit 
  • The single cohort allows for a more efficient use of resources which encourages an increase in course provision
  • It resolves the problem of the “two term dash”
  • It allows more students to sit Higher courses over a two year period
  • It allows more students to sit an increased number of certificate courses



There are three main cross-cutting themes of CfE: Literacy, Numeracy and Health & Well-being. Although, all professional staff have the responsibility to deliver these themes, the essential locus rests with the respective faculties of Languages, Mathematics and Health & Well-being, which in turn are supported by committees which have the responsibility to ensure the themes are delivered across the entire curriculum of Berwickshire High School.




 Classes are based on bi-level composition where appropriate.

  • Under SBC guidelines a maximum of five Highers and six National Courses will be offered in any single year.
  • All Advanced Higher and Higher courses will be given six periods and all National 3, 4 and 5 courses will be given five periods.
  • In the initial phase of implementation it is expected, in general, that students will complete each course within a single year; however, it will be at the discretion of subject specialists, in consultation with parents and students, whether a student sits a course over two years. 
  • There will be a full Senior Phase options process every year.
  • Mentoring is integrated, in other words it will be delivered through each individual subject. The minimum requirement would be that each classroom practitioner engages in Personal Learning Planning with each student once per month.
  • 3 Period Core in Senior Phase for S4 and S5: 1 Soc. Ed; 2 Core PE.
  • 3 Period Core for S6 students: 1 Soc Ed; 1 Committees; 1 Volunteering.
  • There will be robust careers & guidance input throughout S2/3, which will have particular significance at the end of S3 in supporting students making informed subject choices for the Senior Phase. Career goals will be established and relevant subjects chosen.


  • All S4, S5, S6 students must have full column commitment unless their curriculum is enhanced by work experience, college or volunteering.
  • A minimum requirement for students in CfE cross-cutting themes Literacy, Numeracy and Health & Well-being is National 4 (principally English, Maths, PE, HE and Social Education). If National 4 has been achieved by the end of S4, students can choose to drop English and Maths, however under normal circumstances some form of Literacy, Numeracy and Health & Well-being will continue in S5.
  • At the end of S4, if a student has achieved the minimum competence of National 4 in a subject then they can choose to drop it and choose another subject.
  • Qualifications are taken at the appropriate stage for the individual student over the three years of the Senior Phase; however the majority of S4 students will complete either National 3, National 4 or National 5 by the end of S4. Opportunities for formal recognition of progress, i.e. certification, should be exploited where appropriate to ensure certification is maximised before school leaving.  Although students could possibly leave school at the end of S4, it is our intention to adhere to the principle that students should leave BHS with a minimum of 5 SQA qualifications including the core subjects of English and Maths.
  • It is expected that the most able students should be able to sit National 5 at the end of S4 and Higher at the end of S5. There is a need to profile all our students so that no one is penalised for early certification. For example, it is still the case that aspiring vets, doctors, lawyers need 5 Highers in one sitting. Therefore for the vast majority of most able students, Highers will be sat at the end of S5.



The Berwickshire High School, Duns, Berwickshire, TD11 3QG
tel: 01361 883 710