Holyrood Inquiry into Subject Choices – Have Your Say

At long last it seems to have dawned on the Scottish Government that something is going badly wrong in Scottish education and that it is time to actually listen to the views of parents and pupils about subject choices.  Over the last 3 years or so the lack of subject choices has become one of the biggest concerns voiced by parents in Highland and across Scotland, and we can now all see the kind of impact it has been having through the collapse in pupil numbers undertaking modern languages at Higher for example. 

Please take this opportunity to make your views known to the Education and Skills Committee – you have until Monday 4 March to do so.

Those of you who followed the outcome of the Consultation on the Proposed Education (Scotland) Bill in 2016/2017 will be aware that the huge response to that from Parent Councils came as a real shock to the Scottish Government, and played an important part in the proposed legislation being abandoned as it was clear that many parents regarded it as unnecessary and unwelcome. 

The collective voice of Parent Councils is a powerful one that we urge you to use to have your say and be heard!  The HPCP will also put together a collective response covering all PCs in Highland that wish to contribute – send in your responses to the HPCP Sec at secretary@highlandpcp.org.uk.

What follows has been taken directly from the Scottish Parliament website.  You can see more on what the Education and Skills Committee is looking at here.

Inquiry into Subject Choices (Secondary Education)

The Education and Skills Committee has agreed to carry out an inquiry into subject choices, specifically the extent and basis for any narrowing of availability of subject choices. This follows on from previous work undertaken by the Committee in 2017 and September 2018. The Committee has therefore launched a call for views, and welcomes any written views on this subject by Monday 4 March.

The Committee is particularly interested in receiving views in response to some or all of the following questions:

a)    Has the structure of the Senior Phase of the Curriculum for Excellence allowed for better learning and overall achievement than previously?

b)    Education Scotland says the Senior Phase has the “flexibility to offer a range of pathways that meet the needs and raise the attainment levels of all learners”. How does your school offer flexibility to its learners through the Senior Phase and how does this impact on the range of subjects available and the depth of pupils’ learning?

c)    Do you think there has been a narrowing of the range of subjects and subject choices in:

I.        broad general education (BGE)?

II.        S4?

III.        S5?

IV.        S6?

d)    What are the factors that influence the range of subject choices? Possible factors include: curriculum timetabling; local decision making; school size; area and school demography.

e)    Have you experienced any changes in the level of uptake in particular subjects in the past 5 years? If so, what subjects in particular and what do you think has caused this change?

f)     What is the impact, positive or negative, of any limitations on subject choices?

The Committee plans to discuss this topic at meetings on 3 April, 24 April, 1 May, 8 May and 15 May. Should you wish to be considered as a participant, please indicate in your response whether you are available on these dates.

Respondents should also indicate in their response if their experience relates to a 2+2+2 model rather than to the 3+3 model introduced by the Curriculum for Excellence.

As well as contacting head teachers, local authorities and higher education institutions, the Committee will be undertaking engagement work with pupils, parents, teachers and the Scottish Youth Parliament during the course of its inquiry. This work, which does not preclude any individuals from making submissions to the call for views, will be published once available.

Further details of how to make a submission are included below in “Evidence”.

The Committee plans to take evidence on 3 April24 April1 May8 May and 15 May. Details of witnesses for these sessions will be published once participants have been confirmed.


Should you wish to write to the Committee with your views, please use the below template to format your submission. In particular, the Committee wishes to hear your views on the six questions a) to f) listed above. Please fill out this form, including the attached GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) form, and return it with your submission to es.submissions@parliament.scot .

Submission form

For anyone under 13 years of age, we will need to ask a parent or guardian to confirm to us that they are happy for the young person to send us their views. We have published a specific privacy notice for young people. In this case please contact the Committee clerks, using the contact details above, who will provide the necessary form.

To find out how the Scottish Parliament treats your personal data please read the Privacy Notice for written submissions.

More about what the Committee does, and why, is available here.

And here is the link to our full guide on how to submit information to the Committee.

If you have any questions about this work, please contact the clerks on 0131 348 5204.

If you would like to comment further, please email the Committee on es.submissions@parliament.scot

If you prefer, you could send a letter to:

Education and Skills Committee
Scottish Parliament
EH99 1SP

If you find it easier to communicate in a language other than English, that’s fine. We welcome written evidence in any language. We also welcome calls using the Text Relay service or in BSL through contactscotland-bsl.org/

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