Subject choices


About the Inquiry

Subject choices

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 launched its call for views on 4 February, which closed on 4 March. The responses received to its call for views can be found below.

As well as contacting head teachers, local authorities and higher education institutions, the Committee is undertaking engagement work with pupils, parents, teachers and the Scottish Youth Parliament during the course of its inquiry. This work will be published once available.


The Committee received the following responses to its call for views:

Teaching Staff

Teaching Unions



Parent Councils

Professional Associations




The Convener wrote to the Principals of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Scotland regarding subject choices impact on admissions to particular courses.  

The following responses have been received from HEIs: 

Local Authorities

The Convener wrote to local authority Directors of Education regarding subject choices.

The following responses have been received from local authorities:

Individual responses can be read below:

A further response was recived from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

A letter and supplementary information have been from Universities Scotland.

The following links to further documents which are referred to in the letter from Universities Scotland.



The Committee plans to take evidence on 3 April, 24 April, 1 May, 8 May and 15 May. Details of witnesses for these sessions will be published once participants have been confirmed.

3 April 2019 

The Commitee heard evidence from Education Scotland, Universities Scotland, Colleges Scotland, the Highland and Islands Enterprise and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. 

View the Committee meeting here for 3 April 2019

24 April 2019

The Commitee is due to hear evidence from academics.



Call for views

The Committee was 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 call for views closed on Monday 4 March.

To find out how the Scottish Parliament treats 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

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

You can also ask questions online through live chat:   

If you would like to receive this document in Braille, or British Sign Language, please contact us and let us know.


As well as its call for views, the Committee created short surveys for head teachers, teachers, parents and pupils regarding subject choice, which we invited relevant individuals to complete by Monday 4 March 2019. The results are currently being processed.


The Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) wrote to the Convener in respect of evidence they had gathered.

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