Social studies

​In social studies, your child will develop their understanding of the world by learning about other people and their values, in different times, places and circumstances. They will develop their understanding of their environment and of how it has been formed.

As your child matures, their experiences will be broadened using Scottish, British, European and wider contexts for learning. There will be a focus on the historical, social, geographic, economic and political changes that have shaped Scotland.

Your child will learn about human achievements and about how to make sense of changes in society, of conflicts and of environmental issues.

What will my child learn?

Each area of the curriculum is broken down into experiences and outcomes. These are clear and concise statements about children's learning and progression from pre-school to S3.

Read the experiences and outcomes for social studies.

​Social studies make a significant contribution to education for citizenship, education for sustainability and enterprise education as well as having a crucial role in helping children and young people to understand their own country, the history and heritage of Scotland and the challenges it faces.

How are children and young people learning in Scotland?

Through social studies, children and young people develop their understanding of the world by learning about other people and their values, in different times, places and circumstances; they also develop their understanding of their environment and of how it has been shaped.… With greater understanding comes the opportunity and ability to influence events by exercising informed and responsible citizenship. 
Curriculum for Excellence: Social Studies Experiences and Outcomes

Education Scotland publishes regular 'Curriculum Impact Reports', which present a subject-by-subject view of how children and young people are experiencing learning in different curriculum areas. Parents' views are taken into consideration in the reports. This is a summary of the key points from the social studies impact report.

Areas of strength

  • The report identified the following as areas of strength in social studies in schools and early learning and childcare centres:
    Social studies is a strong and improving area of the curriculum.
  • Staff are well prepared and learning and teaching in the classroom is generally of a high standard. Subject specialists at the secondary stages are knowledgeable and enthusiastic.
  • Most children and young people are motivated and enjoy their learning in social studies.
  • Most children and young people are achieving well. In the senior phase (S4-S6), the social subjects are popular choices and most young people are progressing well from earlier levels.
  • Overall, plans for the senior phase (S4-S6) are generally in place in most schools and social studies have a central place.
  • Approaches being developed to ensure most children and young people have a consistent experience within and across the curriculum. Secondary schools are planning more joined up learning experiences.
  • More often, children and young people work together within social studies.
  • Staff are forming partnerships within the local environment and wider community to support learning within social studies.
  • Staff are developing a good understanding of how the (Link) four contexts of learning contribute to children and young people's development in social studies.
  • Learning with a Scottish context is being delivered to develop children and young people's understanding of Scotland’s development as a nation.

Areas for development

In order to improve social studies, the report found that schools and centres need to:

  • encourage teachers to develop knowledge, understanding and skills in social studies for 3 to 15 years.
  • develop transition arrangements  further to support progression in social studies.
  • focus on skills development. In particular, they need to be more carefully planned and tracked.
  • continue to develop approaches to assessing and recording progress in social studies.
  • make sure all young people are exposed to all of the experiences and outcomes up to and including the third level.
  • develop staff who teach social studies in Gaelic are not specialists in Gaelic, on the core aspects of social studies.

To learn more, read the full curriculum impact report:

PDF file: Social studies 3-18 curriculum impact report (1.69 MB).