Sixth Form curriculum

A preparation for the future

At Strathallan we offer a number of Sixth Form pathways which aim to give a flexible, individually tailored route through the Sixth Form years and on to university or work. The first decision to make is to choose between A Levels or Highers.

A Levels and two year Scottish Highers for added flexibility

It is a special feature of Strathallan’s Sixth Form that there is the flexibility to choose either A Levels or Scottish Highers over two years. Our principal concern in admitting pupils to courses in the Sixth Form is that each individual should embark on courses which are likely to lead to good qualifications and successful progression to Higher Education, Further Education or employment. To this end, we advise parents on the selection of Higher or A Level courses in the light of the pupil’s academic record and GCSE performance.

Sixth Form courses last for two years and involve greater specialisation than at GCSE level – fewer subjects are studied but to a greater depth. Supported by their house tutor, pupils are encouraged to take responsibility for their own work and time management.

The Sixth Form also provides opportunities for pupils to develop leadership skills in a variety of roles – including setting an example to younger children in the School. By the end of their time at Strathallan, our Sixth Formers should possess good examination grades and also be ready to face the world as confident, well-rounded young adults.

Scottish Highers

Scottish Highers allow admission to all Scottish universities, almost all universities in the rest of the UK and are widely accepted in the EU and further afield. (Please note some courses such as Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Dentistry and Law will not accept applicants who have taken Highers over two years. Any pupil wishing to study these and similar subjects will be advised to follow the A Level curriculum.)

At Strathallan we offer Higher courses over two years and we believe this provides added choice and flexibility. Some pupils opt for Highers if they have a heavy sporting or extra-curricular timetable, others if they know they only want to study in Scotland and others if they feel the A Level commitment may be too demanding.

Pupils taking Higher courses in the Sixth Form are expected to take five subjects; those taking History and Modern Studies will be able to take six Highers.

A Levels

Pupils taking A Level course will generally study three or four subjects (some may opt to study five) in the Lower Sixth year to give them as wide a choice as possible.


The decision to study four A Levels offers additional challenge to our most able pupils; this pathway suits those for whom a love of academic learning is the driving reason for studying.

Whilst it is quite common, for example, for able mathematicians to study four A Levels including Further Maths, it is far less common to study four A Levels in the Arts or Humanities. We do not encourage pupils to start four with the intention of dropping one, but appreciate that this is sometimes the best way to make a decision. We encourage those who take this pathway to make sure that they have made their decision to drop an A Level by Half Term of the Upper Sixth.


The decision to opt for ‘3+’ is for pupils who want to study three A Levels but who would like to add a further string to their bow. In this fast-moving and highly pressurised world, standing out from the crowd is imperative. Increasingly universities and employers are looking for evidence of personal engagement and interest, in what young people have actually done.

The ‘+’ will usually take the form of an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) completed in the Lower Sixth. However, the ’+’ does not need to be an EPQ, it could, for example, be a professional qualification, a sports coaching certificate, Grade 8 music, or one of the numerous and exciting online university courses that are now available.

International Pupils

For pupils whose first language is not English, pre-A Level courses may be available.

Download the Sixth Form Course Guide