The Student Room Group

A levels to Scottish Highers

Hi - my daughter is studying GCSE’s, and will go into year 11 after this summer. We plan to move from England to Scotland and I’m wondering if it’s better to wait till she completes her GCSE’s and then transfers to Highers or to move earlier? What are the differences between Alevels and Highers and what considerations should we have? Thank you!
Nat 5s are roughly equivalent to GCSEs although they are sat a year earlier than in England. You can get into Scottish unis on Highers (done in one year after Nat 5s) but English unis tend to want Advanced Highers (one more year), and a lot of people stay on to get these before uni in Scotland too.
I'd say if your daughter finishes her GCSEs she'll be in decent shape for Highers and that would be a logical place to start 5th year. She may be a year older than others in the class though.
If she changes now, she would be 5th year so the age is ok but Highers may be challenging without GCSEs - bearing in mind others would have done Nat 5s at this point.
Having a chat with the school would be really useful I think. Also you can have a look at BBC Bitesize to see the differences in the syllabuses and maybe download some past papers from the SQA website to get an idea.
A friend is going in the other direction. He's sitting Highers right now but is moving to England and might pick up A levels or something at college as well.
Reply 2
Hi - thank you for your note, really helpful and appreciated. To be clear our daughter will complete her GCSE’s, we were looking at the potential to transfer for the second year to complete in Scotland before moving onto Highers.

Steve
No problem, happy to help. GCSEs will be a good starting point for Highers.

You can think of a Scottish Higher + Advanced Higher as equivalent to an A level, but as above you can get into Scottish Unis on Highers.

I believe English year 11 students are 15-16. In Scotland this is 5th year and when students do their Highers. Hence the possibility of your daughter being a year older than others in the class.

Assuming you move this year then if you can find a school in Scotland that will teach GCSEs then that's an option. The other option would be to switch to Nat 5s, which I reckon is possible.
Reply 4
Something to think about when you move is, because the Higher courses are done over just one year, most schools start their new timetables and the Higher syllabus as soon as the NAT5 exams are finished/early June. This means they get a month of lessons before the summer holidays start at the end of June.
Hi Steve,

I used to be in the British education system, studying GCSEs before I moved to Scotland. Overall, National 5s are the equivalent to GCSEs, except that they are slightly easier. However, Highers are a mix of GCSE and A Levels, in my opinion. For example, in mathematics, we learn differentiation at Higher level, whereas, GCSE students learn it at GCSE. Highers is also a 1 year course and tends to be quite stressful but I prefer this as it means that when it comes to revision, I am not having to memorise too much from 2 years worth of learning.

All in all, I'd recommend letting your daughter completing her GCSEs and then moving to Scotland. The next academic year tends to start in June with a 1 month and half break (July to mid-late August) but your daughter is unlikely to miss much as June is generally just a review of what we did during the past year and very little is actually done in the new course.

Best of luck!
Original post by Steven Miller
Hi - my daughter is studying GCSE’s, and will go into year 11 after this summer. We plan to move from England to Scotland and I’m wondering if it’s better to wait till she completes her GCSE’s and then transfers to Highers or to move earlier? What are the differences between Alevels and Highers and what considerations should we have? Thank you!
Reply 6
Original post by engineering06
......but your daughter is unlikely to miss much as June is generally just a review of what we did during the past year and very little is actually done in the new course.


Very much depends on the school so worth talking to them, we had a change of timetable and fully started our highers as soon as exams were finished right at the start of June. Reviews would have been a waste of time as we had been revising the previous years work throughout the exams period.

We had been started on our English higher folios and had our critical essay text to read, chemistry/Physics units,etc before the holidays, first English folio plan or draft was due in the first week we were back in August, not everyone did it during the break but it was good to get some of it out the way.

Quick Reply

Latest