Fourth and Fifth Form curriculum

Pathways to academic success

Strathallan’s approach to the provision of our academic curriculum is designed to meet the needs of all our pupils and to provide the best possible academic opportunities to enable all pupils to excel.

We are a school that is proud of its place in an increasingly international world and fully aware that those pupils who leave us go on to work and study in that wider world. GCSEs, A Levels and Scottish Highers are recognised and respected across the world; we offer flexible pathways based around these rigorous assessment models which enable us to cater individually for the needs of all our pupils – one size does not suit all.

GCSE pathways

We believe the best possible examination results are achieved by a flexible approach to subject choice focused, as much as possible, on the individual needs of our pupils. Most Strathallan pupils will go on in the Fourth and Fifth Form to study nine GCSEs including:

  • Maths
  • English Literature
  • English Language
  • at least one modern foreign language
  • at least two single award sciences and either History, Geography or both.

Other subjects on offer are: Art, Business Studies, Classical Civilisation, Computing, Design Technology, Drama, Latin, Music, Religious Education and Physical Education.

We offer a basic structure of nine GCSEs with the flexibility for the most ambitious to do 10 or fewer for those who need. There is academic rigour in the new and more challenging 1-9 GCSEs and a broad curriculum offering that means enthusiastic pupils do not have to give up subjects they enjoy as they might have to do if they were.

We believe in a broad curriculum offering with the academic rigour of the new and more challenging 1-9 GCSEs and fewer for those ; this recognises the challenge of the new 1-9 GCSEs which have increased significantly in content and difficulty: it offers the opportunity for academic rigour whilst giving pupils the space and time to achieve the best possible results.

The Scottish independent day schools will generally expect their pupils to complete 6 to 8 National Five exams, a diet of nine tougher GCSEs recognises the need to be academic and competitive. That said, we are a non-selective school and a pupil who is not as academically orientated can benefit from a bespoke pathway which is less demanding but which still offers the benefits of a broad curriculum.


The standard Strathallan diet of nine GCSEs gives excellent academic challenge and caters for the needs of most pupils. This offering provides a clear pathway to the top universities.


The strongest pupils academically may choose to follow the nine GCSE pathway and add a further subject to their portfolio off the timetable. This option is for the pupil whose engagement and love of academic learning is the driving reason for studying a further GCSE. It is not necessary to attempt 10 or more GCSEs to access top universities, in fact, higher grades across nine subjects are more attractive to these institutions than a higher number of GCSEs with lower grades.


This pathway leading to eight GCSEs will suit those pupils who are likely to get good grades across eight rather than nine GCSEs. This pathway, making ‘Supervised Study/Learning Support’ one of the option choices, offers a little more space in the timetable and one fewer subject to study. This course will suit the pupil who might be highly committed in another area, such as the performing arts or sport. For most universities, good grades across eight GCSEs is more than enough so this pathway really does cater for the pupil who is highly committed in another area, or who is more likely to perform well across a reduced number of subjects. This pathway also offers the possibility of those who may have support for learning needs to opt out of the modern foreign language which is compulsory for other pupils. This decision is made after discussion with the school.

At all times the needs of the individual pupil drives the decision about the academic pathway to be followed. For example, most pupils will embark on Higher Tier GCSE courses which give access to the full range of grades up to grade 9. Lower Tier courses which are less challenging and which enable better access to Grades 1 to 5 may well be more appropriate in certain circumstances. We advise and make recommendations at the right times to ensure that the examinations entered give the best chance of the best possible grades