Options Process Overview S5 – S6

S5 & S6 offers you the opportunity to think beyond school and what your possible pathways might be.  It can be quite challenging for young people to think about these pathways and so we always recommend that you:

Talk – to our SDS officer, to parents/carers, to their Head of House and to friends about their ideas for the future

Listen – to the advice offered by the above and from your teachers about subject options and presentation levels

Read – as much as possible about the options available both in and out of school and  about the requirements for your ideal job, college or university course.

The course choice process involves planning, thought and an increasing sense of your longer-term ambitions. It might seem early  to start this process, but it is very important that individuals and the school are aware of any issues regarding the choices that you will be making.

If you are about to enter S5 then you should be considering the package of courses that you will need over the next two years. You may wish to consider a Senior Phase College course as one of your 5 options. These courses are typically run on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and offer you a much wider variety of courses than we can offer in school There is a link to the Senior Phase College Options on this part of the website. You may also wish to consider if you need to take all courses as a one year option or if a 2 year approach may best suit your needs.

S6 is your final year in school and you should focus on making the best of it. The demands of each subject can be considerable, and it is wise to think of each choice as part of a wider package of courses. It is also important that you think carefully about the best way to progress towards your next step beyond school whether that be to college, university, employment or training. 

S5 pupils are expected to commit to 5 courses and these can be in a combination of presentation levels and can include a college option. In S6 you are required to study either 4 academic courses at a mixture of presentation levels or 3 Advanced Highers.  This can be a combination of subjects in school but can also include other options like a Foundation Apprenticeship or one of the Senior Phase College Options . 

If you have a place on a Foundation Apprenticeship (FA) course, then you must consider the amount of time you will be spending out with school and this will have to be negotiated with your Head of House and Year Head.

Important decisions must be made during the Course Choice process. The purpose of this information is to help you  to take these decisions.  We are confident that the courses offered will accommodate most requests. However, some difficulties will inevitably arise, and you should discuss such situations with your Head of House or Year Head as soon as possible. Consideration can then be given to adjusting the pattern of courses before it is finalised.

If you are interested in a course that is available at another school then please speak to your Year Head as soon as possible so that this can be considered as one of your options for S5 or S6.

Our learners discuss gender balance and stereotyping during their PSHE lessons.  These aim to build their skills to complete a well informed course choice. Although stereotyping is superficially well understood, learners are usually surprised by the extent of its influence on their perceptions of suitable careers. 

There is a great deal of research pointing to unconscious bias and the normalisation of stereotypes creating invisible barriers to young people’s choices. The research indicates that young people’s ideas about gender and careers are fixed from a very young age and indeed our  learners report strong perceptions about which jobs are gender suitable. Nationally, there is an imbalance in the uptake of many subjects, with boys likely to be dissuaded from languages and the arts and girls likely to be dissuaded from certain STEM subjects such as computing and physics.

There is little evidence to suggest that there are neurological differences which result in boys having different abilities or ways of learning to girls. Gender differences are learned and not innate. Carol Dweck in her book Mindset identifies some differences in attitudes which may be relevant. Dweck says girls are more likely to attribute their success to hard work, boys to talent. The Institute of Physics has also pointed to the fact that girls are more likely to doubt their abilities, perhaps due to stereotype threat. Unfortunately, we also hear from young people that they may be dissuaded from taking a subject based on what they perceive the likely gender balance to be in the class.

We are committed as a school to ensuring all opportunities are open to young people and that their choices are free from barriers. We welcome any feedback you may have on this issue and encourage you to get in touch.

Details of all the courses offered are provided here

We recommend that all pupils continue with their study of English and Mathematics in S5. Their other three subject choices should reflect subjects that they enjoy most and are best linked to future pathways beyond school.

N5 Courses

These courses are designed for students progressing from an N5 Grade C award and for those who would benefit from a more measured approach to Higher Grade over 2 years. Direct entry is possible for some courses provided applicants meet the necessary entry requirements.


The typical entry requirement is a strong N5 award, typically a grade A or B.

The differences between S4 courses and Higher are significant in terms of workload and difficulty. Students with a C pass at N5 will have little chance of passing Higher.

Highers are the normal entry route to Degree level courses in Higher and Further Education.


Candidates for Advanced Higher courses will normally have a good pass at Higher Grade in the subject. It is recommended that they be taken by those who have gained an ‘A’ or ‘B’ at Higher.

Advanced Higher courses provide an important preparation for students intending to pursue more advanced studies at University or college.  Emphasis is placed on students taking more responsibility for their own learning and thus developing the more advanced study skills required of students.  Such courses involve considerable amounts of guided study, practical work projects and dissertations as well as an external examination.

Glasgow City Council Senior Phase College Options

The Senior Phase College Options available via GCC offer pupils a great many courses that we cannot offer in school.  These courses typically run on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons but there are some variations in these arrangements. Pupils must indicate which course or courses they would be interested in applying for and speak to their Head of House.  The brochure details all the courses and the levels available and can be viewed in the Course Choice area of the school website.

Details of national qualifications and progression to S5/S6 and beyond can be found at the following web sites:

Scottish Qualifications Authority                       www.sqa.org.uk

My World Of Work                                                www.myworldofwork.co.uk

The process of course choice is a lengthy one that starts with an exploration of all of the factors pupils should take into account: their interests; a consideration of job families; and their relevance to choices.

Our curriculum structure and timetable change annually in response to the changing needs and desires of each cohort. This involves a significant commitment of time and resource by the school to try and optimise the timetable to meet pupil needs. Pupils have opportunities to change their minds at several different points during the process.

One of the reasons the new timetable starts in June is to allow pupils to have a three week experience of their choices in case anyone feels they have made a serious mistake. It is common for changes to be made when the SQA results are published at the start of August and this process can continue up until the end of August for some pupils.

However, there comes a point at which we must finalise the course choice column and timetable structures (March) and this mean that it is not feasible to consider change requests if the requested combination will not fit the established column structure.

For pupils commencing S5/S6 we would not normally accede to such requests after the third week of the new session.

The rationale for this being

  • Pupils have had a lengthy period in which to consider options and must eventually live with the decisions taken.
  • Beyond 5 or 6 weeks of the course (including June) pupils have missed too much work or induction into course skills. Any change is likely to be a high-risk strategy.
  • Having optimised the timetable to one set of choices the school must have a clear rationale for allowing late changes.

The school acts positively to support the full range of academic needs in S5/S6 when these carry greater significance in the preparation for transition beyond school. The fact that we do this in itself imposes some constraints on our ability to be responsive to late requests.

Criteria for Late Changes

The criteria for allowing a late change of course beyond the date set out above are that

  • The pupil has or has developed significant additional support needs which can best be addressed through a change or that there has been some significant change in the pupil’s circumstances that would merit such change 


  • The pupil must clearly exceed the normal entry requirements for the course and the receiving department must confirm that there is a very high level of probability that (i) the final outcome will be of significant benefit to the pupil and (ii) that despite the delayed start the pupil is very likely to meet their full potential on the course.

Wednesday afternoons are given over entirely to sports for S4-6 pupils who select from an extensive menu of activities that take place in school and at other local venues.  The core programme is free, but a charge is levied for the alternative options to help defray expenses.

This is a mandatory part of your young person’s curriculum and as such, as with all other subjects, appointments should be made out with Wednesday afternoons.

Successful former pupils of Jordanhill School in the field of sports include:

Jenny Beattie –  Jenny currently plays professionally for Arsenal. She has amassed over 100 caps for Scotland and played at last year’s World Cup.


Marc Austin – Marc is a triathlete who won a bronze medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games (2018). He has also achieved numerous Junior and U23 podiums such as gold in Mixed Relay at Alanya (2013) and silver at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Edmonton (2014).


In both S5 and S6 pupils have one period of PSHE per week led by their class tutor. The programme utilises co-operative learning strategies, ICT, input from the school careers advisor and visiting speakers to engage pupil interest.

The S5 course covers a variety of topics, such as:

  • Targets and action planning
  • Careers information and course choice preparation
  • Personal safety
  • Relationships
  • First Aid
  • Preparation for driving test

The increased demands of courses in S5 & S6 are reflected in the greater amount of homework expected of pupils. The allocation of homework will usually increase steadily as the course progresses.

It is expected that pupils will have established a routine of steady revision of their work as they have progressed through S3 & S4. A pupil who does not spend appropriate time on homework and revision throughout the year is not working hard enough to get the best award possible in that subject.

In cases of ill health leading to extended or frequent absences, parents should contact their young person’s Tutor to explore the option for work to be done at home.

The School cannot ‘authorise’ absences for vacation purposes.  The Scottish Government has directed that any such absence be recorded as “unauthorised”. The onus will be on the pupil to catch up on any work missed.  Parents are strongly advised not to remove their children for holidays during the session in S3 and S4.

Pupils complete a wide range of assignments in school during term 2 from January to March which contribute significantly to their final grade. Many of these have to be completed with a very narrow window and then submitted to SQA. Absences from school should be kept to an absolute minimum.

Units in National Qualifications

Freestanding Units at Level 5 and Higher are available in all subjects. Where it becomes obvious that achievement of a course award (grade A-D) in the final exam is unlikely, pupils may be advised to complete the Unit assessments as an alternative to completing the course assessments.

This ensures that pupils receive recognition for their achievements to date. It can also provide a stepping stone for future studies.