The RSE has responded to the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee Inquiry into Subject Choices at school. There has undoubtedly been a narrowing of the curriculum across Scottish secondary schools with fewer subjects being taken in S4 compared to previously. The widespread reduction in the number of subjects studied in S4 is not the result of any conscious policy decision but the unintended consequence of the interpretation of national guidance.

The impact of reduced subject choice will be felt most keenly by those learners who leave school at S4 with fewer qualifications than previously might have been the case. Recent research has, worryingly, found a clear relationship between the reduction in the number of subject choices made by S4 pupils and the level of deprivation of the school’s catchment area, with the reduction in subject choice being most pronounced in schools of higher deprivation. This conflicts with the Scottish Government’s aspiration to close the attainment gap.

The RSE response is available here.

The Learned Societies’ Group on Scottish STEM Education, which is hosted by RSE, has also responded, focusing on the implications of narrowing of course choice on the uptake of and, progress in, STEM subjects. The LSG response is available, here.