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Course Choice

Broad General Education – First and Second Year

There have been ongoing reviews of approaches to learning and teaching at Biggar High and each Faculty has course guidelines/ outlines which describe how it is working to ensure that courses offer appropriate challenges for all of our young people.  Effective collaboration with primary colleagues is at the heart of this, combined with extensive co-operation with Pupil Support staff.  Our commitment to ensuring that each pupil achieves his or her full potential begins from well before the first day of term and the arrival of our S1 pupils to Biggar High.

Pupils in S1 undertake a common course of study which currently includes: English, Mathematics, French/ German, Social Subjects (Geography, History and Modern Studies), Science, STEM, Art and Design, Music, Food and Textile Technology, Technology and Design, Personal and Social Education (PSE), Physical Education (PE), Religious and Moral Education (RME), Business Education and Information and Communication Technology (ICT). ICT is also taught as part of the other subjects.  Pupils are currently taught in mixed attainment classes in first year- except in Maths and English, where there is broad band grouping initially based on prior attainment levels at primary school.  In other subjects account is taken of previous learning in primary school through both individual work and group work and information gathered from reading pupils’ P7 profiles.

In S2, pupils continue to study all of the subjects started in S1. 

Curriculum for Excellence guidelines recommend that pupils should continue with a broad general education as described above until the end of S3 but one that also allows for increased specialisation and choice. 

Our S3 model takes account of this recommendation (Up to date Options forms will be posted on the school website in February/ March of each session).

Pupils continue with their Broad General Education and undertake six subjects from modal columns and two elective choices. In addition to these eight courses, all pupils also follow core courses in Religious and Moral Education (RME), Personal and Social Education (PSE) and Physical Education (PE).

Broad General Education – Third Year

Options Information February 2023 link to video:


Pupils at Biggar High School continue to follow a ‘Broad General Education’ in S3. S3 pupils will continue to develop knowledge and life skills in a wide range of different subjects.

It is important however to look ahead and start preparing pupils for National Qualifications at the end of S3 and so pupils have the opportunity to choose specific subjects during S3. There is a play-off between breadth of education and the depth in which a subject can be studied. To meet the criteria of a Broad General Education, subject choices will be made within modes. To increase depth of study, pupils reduce the number of subjects that they study in S3. There will be a further reduction at the start of S4 and the start of S5.

The option sheets (please refer to school website) undergo extensive discussion with all our pupils and teachers to ensure that they meet the key principles of Curriculum for Excellence. In early January we carry out trial runs with relevant pupil year groups and parents to ensure we are meeting the wants and needs of as many students as possible. At each stage in the process changes will be made to the option sheets to take account of the feedback from students and teachers.

English, Maths, Core PE, Personal and Social Education (PSE) and Religious and Moral Education (RME) are compulsory.  Thereafter pupils will choose subjects within the modes shown below:

  • Sciences – Biology, Chemistry, Physics
  • Social Studies – Business Education, Geography, History
  • Expressive Arts – Art, Music, PE
  • Technology – Administration, Design and Manufacture, Home Economics, Music Technology, Computing

In addition, there are two elective columns where students can opt to choose a second Science, Social subject, Expressive Art or Technology. French appears in both elective columns to give as many students as possible the option to continue with a Modern Language.

Senior Phase – Fourth Year

In S4 our students will enter the Senior Phase and will complete new National Qualifications in six subject areas. Mathematics and English are at present compulsory subjects for all of our students in fourth year. In addition to Mathematics and English our students will be asked to choose four courses from the courses they are currently studying in S3.

The option sheet used for subject choice in late February is designed to best match the wants and needs of our students. The sheet is based on the trial options run we carry out in January.  Changes to the option sheet will be made to take account of the feedback from students and teachers.

In S4 English, Maths, Core PE and Personal and Social Education (PSE) are taken by all students.  Elements of Religious and Moral Education (RME) will be included in PSE and various parts of our assembly programme and incorporated in English as a fully individualised timetabled lesson for most of the school year. 

Once this exercise is completed an options column is constructed that allows as many of our students as possible to study the combination of subjects they have chosen.

All S5 students currently undertake five courses. Sixth year students must undertake at least four courses. Great emphasis is placed on supporting students in making good choices as they move into the senior school.  We encourage students to plan a two-year programme which is both demanding but achievable.  It is important that students consider taking forward their core skills profile of communication, numeracy, problem solving, information technology and working with others when planning this course selection. Individual interviews, access to careers staff, support in subject departments, a detailed course choice booklet and information evenings for parents, all contribute to ensuring a successful transition to the senior school.

Senior Options Information 2023 for current S3, S4 and S5.

Please click the link below to view and listen to senior options presentation by Mrs Rose.


Senior Phase – S5

Biggar High School is committed, as far as resources will allow, to offering all courses which run in S3/4 at National 4, 5 and Higher levels in S5/6.

Each course has its own entry level but, broadly speaking the progression is:-

  • National 5 (strong pass) → one year Higher
  • National 5 (pass) → one or two year Higher (or National 5 upgrade/ alternative N5 qualification in individual circumstances)
  • National 4 → one year or two year National 5
  • National 3 → National 4