3 – 18 Curriculum

What is the curriculum?

Curriculum for Excellence is Scotland’s curriculum for children and young people aged 3-18.
It’s an approach designed to provide young people with the knowledge, skills and attributes they need for learning, life and work in the 21st century.It aims to enable every child or young person to be a:

  • Successful learner
  • Confident individual
  • Responsible citizen
  • Effective contributor.

Stages and levels

The curriculum is broken into two broad stages:

  • a broad general education, providing a rounded education from the early years until the end of S3
  • a senior phase, which will include studying for qualifications (from S4-S6).

The broad general education is divided into five curriculum levels (Early, First, Second, Third and Fourth) across eight curriculum areas.

Curriculum levels

​​​There are five curriculum levels – Early, First, Second, Third and Fourth – in the broad general education (from early years to the end of S3).Diagram showing the stages of Curriculum for Excellence from Early level (Age 3/Primary 1) to the Senior phase (S4-S6)This diagram shows the five curriculum levels with progression to the senior phase (S4-S6).

Early level: Age 3 to P1
First level: P2, P3, P4
Second level: P5, P6, P7
Third/Fourth level: S1, S2, S3
Senior phase: S4, S5, S6


The senior phase is for young people aged 15-18 and is designed to build on the experiences and outcomes of the broad general education, and to allow young people to take qualifications and courses that suit their ability and interests.

Note: This is a general guide. Learners will progress at their own pace through the curriculum levels – the framework is designed to be flexible to permit careful planning for those with additional support needs, including those who have a learning difficulty and those who are particularly able or talented.


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