A free online resource developed to support the inclusion of autistic learners in Scottish Early Learning and Childcare settings, Primary and Secondary schools.

Broad General Education (BGE)

Curriculum for Excellence

The toolbox section, Scottish Context, provides an overview of the Scottish framework for education; the Curriculum for Excellence. This framework is designed to support all learners including those with additional support needs such as autism. 

Curriculum for Excellence Levels and Stages

The curriculum has two stages: the broad general education (from the early years to the end of S3) and the senior phase (S4 to S6).

Curriculum for Excellence Levels and stages

CfE level Stage
Early The final two years of early learning and childcare before a child goes to school and P1, or later for some.
First To the end of P4, but earlier or later for some.
Second To the end of P7, but earlier or later for some.
Third and
S1 to S3, but earlier or later for some. The Fourth Level broadly equates to Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework level 4.

The Fourth Level experiences and outcomes are intended to provide possibilities for choice and young people's programmes will not include all of the Fourth Level outcomes.
S4 to S6, and college or other means of study.

Broad general education

The broad general education has five levels (early, first, second, third and fourth). The senior phase is designed to build on the experiences and outcomes of the broad general education, and to allow young people to take qualifications and courses that suit their abilities and interests.

The path most children and young people are expected to follow through the levels reflects the stages of maturation of children and young people and the changing ways in which they engage with learning as they develop.

Some children and young people will start learning at these levels earlier and others later, depending upon individual needs and aptitudes. The framework is however designed to be flexible in order to permit careful planning for those with additional support needs, including those who, for example, have a learning difficulty and those who are particularly high attaining. When supporting autistic learners it is extremely important that the assessment, moderation and support for each autistic learner is individualised, to ensure they are given the appropriate opportunities to engage with their learning at the levels appropriate for them.

There are eight curriculum areas:

  • Expressive arts
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Languages (including English, Gàidhlig and Gaelic learners and modern languages)
  • Mathematics
  • Religious and moral studies
  • Sciences
  • Social studies
  • Technologies.

Each curriculum area is planned using experiences and outcomes. These describe the knowledge, skills, attributes and capabilities of the four capacities that young people are expected to develop.

The principles of Curriculum for Excellence, GIRFEC and the Broad General Education put the child at the centre of all planning. Central to supporting autistic learners is:

  • A key person with knowledge of autism, who learners, staff and parents can approach for advice and information
  • Accurate profiling which identifies strengths as well as barriers to learning
  • Appropriate assessment, monitoring and reporting procedures
  • Awareness of the impact of the sensory environment across the school including social areas. For further information refer to the Toolbox section on Understanding Autism
  • Collaborative and positive links with partners
  • Consistency from all staff, developing trust and reducing anxieties.
  • Coordinated communication with colleagues 
  • Forward planning for transitions – across the school and at times of personal changes - for further information refer to the Toolbox section on Transitions
  • It is important that early years and childcare settings and schools recognise that any adjustments made to support autistic learners will potentially benefit all learners
  • Knowledgeable staff who can provide a flexible approach, reflect on their own teaching styles and adapt to their knowledge of the pupil.
  • Participation of pupils and families in the support and planning process
  • Planning to support emotional and social wellbeing
  • Reviewing policies and practices to ensure the establishment has a positive and inclusive ethos
  • Whole school understanding and implementation of approaches which promote inclusive education for autistic learners for example: 
    • Whole staff awareness of understanding autism and ongoing professional development