"Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today." -Malcolm X

How much do you value your freedom as a citizen of the UK? Is the fact that you have one of the best passports in the world important to you?

There is no doubt that having a passport to be allowed entry into hundreds of countries to travel the world is a liberating thing. Education is also like a well-stamped passport; it provides us with so many new opportunities that were previously closed to us.

Therefore, without further delay, we shall analyse the educational possibilities available to the UK's most northern citizens in Scotland.

A Brief Review of the Education System in Scotland

the best students
To succeed in secondary school leaving qualification exams, Scottish pupils need to exert themselves. (Source: pixabay)

Scotland is one of the world's most stunning countries. Known for its Lochness Monster, the finest Scotch on the planet, breathtaking scenery, unique kilts, loud bagpipes, and the Highland Games, Scotland has something for everyone.

Although part of the United Kingdom since 1707 by inheritance of King of Scots James VI, Scotland has many characteristics and laws that make it almost feel like a separate country among Great Britain.

How so? 

For instance, Scotland has its own legal system known as "Scots Law", which is a mix of civil and universal laws, and does not follow the same educational standards that are so common in England, Northern Ireland, and Wales.

The educational system in Scotland is quite similar to other European countries and other UK's nations since children attend "the nursery" or kindergarten from the ages of 3 or 4 and continue to attend school until the ages of 16, which is mandatory, or 18 for those who want to participate in higher education classes.

But how is it all divided? 

The following list explains the separation of levels or grades in primary and secondary schools in Scotland:

  • Primary 1: Ages 4–5 or 5–6,
  • Primary 2: Ages 5–6 or 6–7,
  • Primary 3: Ages 6–7 or 7–8,
  • Primary 4: Ages 7–8 or 8–9,
  • Primary 5: Ages 8–9 or 9–10,
  • Primary 6: Ages 9–10 or 10–11,
  • Primary 7: Ages 10–11 or 11–12,
  • S1 or Secondary 1: Ages 11–12 or 12–13,
  • S2 or Secondary 2: Ages 12–13 or 13–14,
  • S3 or Secondary 3: Ages 13–14 or 14–15,
  • S4 or Secondary 4: Ages 14–15 or 15–16,
  • S5 or Secondary 5: Ages 15–16 or 16–17,
  • S6 Secondary 6: Ages 16–17 or 17–18.

All of the previously mentioned levels are part of the Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland which begins in the first year of primary school; from the ages of 3-18 submit themselves to the rules and aspects taught under this curriculum.

It is essential to state that the Curriculum of Excellence in Scotland was implemented in Scottish schools during the 2010-2011 school year to try something different and more effective. 

Nevertheless, like all other European nations and parts of the UK, there are secondary school leaving qualifications in Scotland; hence, they are very different.

What are the Scottish equivalents to the GCSEs or A-Levels?  Read the following subheading to find out!

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Scottish Equivalents for the GCSE and A-Level Qualifications

learning in Scotland
As Scottish as Scotch are the National and Higher examinations. (Source: pixabay)

Scotland is a lone wolf doing its thing up in the north; therefore, it comes as no surprise that it has its own secondary school leaving qualifications.

Nevertheless, it is essential to state that since Scotland is quite diverse, there are some who follow the other UK standards while, on the other hand, some religiously implement the Scottish rules. 

Scottish students who reach the age of 16, the age of majority in Scots law, can decide to leave secondary school in S4 and avoid going to S5 and S6.

Before continuing on, we shall now examine the GCSE and A-Level equivalents in Scotland separately. 

GCSE Equivalence

At the end of S4, to receive permission to leave secondary school, pupils under the Scottish School System, experience examinations that are quite similar to the GCSEs.

What are they? 

For instance, in Secondary Four, students take 6-9 distinct subjects that are known as Nationals. National 1-5 qualifications are available in a broad range of topics; nevertheless, English and maths are mandatory for all pupils no matter their experience level.

Also, youngsters who attend independent Scottish schools will usually study National 3-5 qualifications. 

As for exams, National 3 does not have any subjects that need testing; however, National 4 and 5 do, and at these levels, external reviews are started. To receive a course qualification and be eligible to leave secondary school, students must pass all units plus a course assessment. Their exams will be graded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), and results are presented at a later time.

After the test results are received and students have passed, they may decide to look for a job or attend classes for further accreditations.

Check out more information about the International Baccalaureate.

A and AS Level Similarity in Scotland

Just as in other parts of the UK, in Scotland, students who wish to attend classes at further education centres must undergo additional secondary school leaving qualification programmes. 

Equal to the A and AS Level accreditations in England, Northern Ireland, and Wales, S5 and S6 of the Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland aids students to prepare for university programmes; they are known as Highers.

The same as AS Levels, the Higher course is completed during S5 and is necessary for Scottish students to enter higher education centres all over the UK. 

Throughout the years, the Higher has had many reforms. Nevertheless, today, to pass the Higher level, a compulsory core subject must be completed, additional or optional elements which a candidate or the further education centre choose to study, Three-Unit Assessments also known as the UASPs, and last but not least, a final exam.

There are some additional requirements depending on the school where learning more about the Higher level is attended. 

Popular courses at a Higher level among pupils include accounting, administration, construction, dance, electrical engineering, geography, history, Italian, media studies, and technological studies.

After the Higher level has been completed and students wish to further their education before university, level S6 or Advanced Highers can be studied to hone skills and acquire necessary abilities in a specific field of study. 

What is the Scottish Qualifications Authority?

Known as SQA to many teachers, students, and other informed individuals, the Scottish Qualifications Authority is a non-departmental public body in Scotland that issues and accredits educational awards and certificates under the authority of the Scottish Government. 

The SQA, headquartered in Glasgow and Dalkeith, is responsible for providing public examinations and assessment accreditations to all public schools, primary and secondary, in Scotland.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority has the primary goal of accrediting and handing out award certifications. 

For instance, the SQA Awarding Body develops qualifications, validates accreditations, reviews the certificates received by pupils to ensure that they are up to date, and arranges for people and schools to hold SQA accepted qualifications exams.

The most commonly issued SQA exams include the Nationals assessment, SVQ and Modern Apprenticeships standards, and the Higher or Advanced Higher Diploma examination.

Check out the Scottish Qualifications Authority's website to learn more about what they do.

Essential 2020 Dates for Scottish Exams

attending university
Graduation day in Scotland is only possible when secondary school students successfully pass a National or Higher exam. (Source: pixabay)

By knowing the dates of exams ahead of time, students can adequately prepare and be mentally aware of when they are supposed to be assessed.

How does this help? 

Knowing the test dates, according to many reputable sources, aids pupils to reduce stress, avoid procrastination, get the needed rest, and, most importantly, succeed! 

Therefore, without further delay, the exam dates for the Scottish-based secondary school leaving qualifications in 2020 are from the 27 of April to the 4 of June.

To find out about the 3-5 National or the Higher and Advanced Higher exam dates based on your core subjects, consider looking through the Scottish Qualifications Authority exam timetable list for 2020.

We are sure that with the right amount of preparation, study, and sleep, you will be overwhelmingly successful come exam day!

But what if more assistance is needed to get through more complex topics? 

There is no shame in asking for help, and the following subheading will explain why.

Instead of further education qualification, some students have acquired on the job training via NVQ or BTEC accreditations. 

Hiring a Private Educational Tutor in Scotland

In the decades that are now behind us, it is not commonplace to seek the assistance of a private tutor for academic woes; it was viewed as bizarre and weak on the student's part.

Nevertheless, in the past 25 years, private tutoring has skyrocketed in importance. For instance, according to recent statistics, one in every three students has completed private tutoring classes in the United Kingdom. Therefore, there should not be any embarrassment of asking for remedial help in specific academic subjects.

Also, it is worth stating that studying for National or Higher exams in Scotland is no piece of cake; much time and effort are required, and sometimes there are subjects that we just don't grasp.

Nonetheless, whichever academic discipline that proves to be a thorn in your flesh, there is a highly qualified personal educator that can remedy the situation. 

Although we might get comments for being biased, we highly recommend visiting the Superprof website to find the best private tutors in the business. All tutors are qualified, engaging, and insightful. Topics from dance to maths and chemistry to Italian can be studied with Superprof tutors.

The best part is that 1st classes are usually free, no matter the subject and no matter the tutor; isn't that great? 

In conclusion dear readers, we hope that analysing today's article has enlightened, educated ones about the various academic courses offered in Scotland; our aim is always to instruct while having a little fun!

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Brentyn

Avid movie-goer, reader, skier and language learner. Passionate about life, food and travelling.