S3 Options

A Senior Phase Handbook 2017



Welcome to the Third Year Information Handbook

optionsDear Student

This handbook is for you and your parents.  It includes a range of topics which will help you in some of the important decisions you will require to make for your future in Peebles High School and beyond.

Your handbook is not just about making subject choices but helping you to consider the consequences of whatever decisions you make.  When you have to make decisions, do not just do what you would like to do, but also consider what is likely to have the best or, at least, good consequences for you.

You should set yourself challenging targets in the senior school and can only expect to achieve them by working hard.  You are and will be in competition with many talented students across Scotland.  We believe that you can be up there with the best of them.

I hope you have a successful year.

Yours sincerely

Campbell Wilson


What is the most important factor which will determine if you will have a successful year at school?  I hope you have come up with the correct answer; the most important factor is you!

optionsBeing intelligent is only a small part of being successful.  Have you got a good “graft factor”?  How high is your self-esteem?  Are you motivated?  Are you willing to work with others?

Often someone who does not do well at school will nonetheless have success later in life.  Even so, in almost all cases, they wish they had worked harder at school. If you do not keep up or are too easy on yourself, others will move ahead of you.


Using the handbook

The contents have been thought out carefully to support you.
You should refer to the handbook from time to time for advice.
Please consult with your Guidance teacher if you require clarification on any point.
Some students have helped with the contents.  Now it is over to you; use it.

Pearls of wisdom

optionsWhat we think of ourselves and what others think of us are not always the same.  To know yourself well is a lot harder than you may think
Your parents, Guidance staff and your subject teachers can help give you a fair picture of yourself, even if their picture is not always the one you have of yourself.


New National Qualifications


New qualifications are being introduced in Scotland between  2013 and 2016. Called Nationals, Highers and Advanced Highers, they will replace the existing Access, Standard Grades, Intermediates, Highers and Advanced Highers. These new qualifications have been developed by SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority), with the aim of securing a successful future for all Scotland’s young people.

For much more information please follow the link below.

Pupils Guide to the New Qualifications

Nationals in a nutshell



Finding out more about courses

optionsBefore selecting a course you must carry out research to ensure that you understand fully what you are going to study, how hard it will be and how you will be assessed.  You also need to know why you are taking the course.  Is it because it is an essential entry requirement for further study or employment, because you enjoy the area of study and/or because you feel you have talents in this field?  It might even be all three!
There are two important ways to gain information about courses:

Subject teachers

Subject teachers are experts about the courses available in their departments and they will speak to you about what is on offer.  You should speak with the teachers that know best within each department, about which courses would be best for you.  When entering the Senior Phase it is normally the case that you would take courses which lead to more advanced study later on, for instance take National 4/5 Chemistry if you want to study Higher Chemistry in fifth year.  We would advise you to take courses that you had studied as an elective as you will have more knowledge and skills in these subjects. However, you can take a subject in S4 that you have not studied as an elective.

Course outlines

For each National Qualifications course available in school, your teachers have produced a course outline which contains information on the following:


  • What you need to do it.
  • What you will learn.
  • What you will do.
  • How you will be assessed.
  • How much homework you will get.
  • What advanced courses the subject leads to.
  • Costs involved in the course



From January

Pastoral teachers will be working with their PSE classes on the S3 options process, giving information and advice.  Your child will have a 1:1 interview with their pastoral teacher before the 27th of February.

17th January

S3 reports issued.

12th January

S3 Options and choices evening (6.00-6.45 PM). This evening will give you an overview of the curriculum on offer. There will be a demonstration of how to complete the web based options sheet.

9th February Options sheet submission deadline.



Financial constraints have had an effect on the options and choices available to our students.  There is now greater demand for places on every course and as such, some subjects are over-subscribed.  This situation is made even more difficult when students begin courses in June, then change their minds when they receive their results in August.  Re-coursing such students has proved difficult and it has therefore been necessary to offer guidelines to all students, parents and carers on re-coursing procedures.


  1. In June, pupils will be allocated to levels/classes based on SQA estimates and teachers’ recommendations.  Such recommendations will take any additional needs into account.
  2. Places in June are provisional and will be dependent on SQA exam results obtained by students and any recommendations made by staff.
  3. Students who do not meet the recommended entry requirements but who still wish to study a particular course have the right to do so provided there is a space in such a course.  Students who do meet the recommended entry requirements will be given priority and this includes priority over students who have not met the entry requirements but have already secured a place on the course.
  4. In August, new S6 students who wish to repeat a subject should firstly discuss this with the Principal Teacher (Curriculum) before making an appointment to see their Pastoral teacher.  If they still wish to study the subject, they will continue to follow their June timetable and will be placed on a waiting list for their re-sit course.  This does not apply to those students who elected to do a course over two years or students opting for the same course but at a different level of qualification.  Waiting lists will not be in rank order and will be held with Mrs George in the school office.
  5. Waiting lists will be held for one school week.  If places are still available after this then the Principal Teacher (Curriculum) will liaise with the Depute Head who has responsibility for that particular curriculum area, in order to make decisions on the offer of places in the subject.  This will be based on evidence of previous performance.
  6. If no space is available, re-sit students will have to either stay in their original choice or be re-coursed into a subject where there is space.
  7. “S7” students will also be placed on waiting lists and the above bullet point applies.
  8. Any students who enrol in PHS in August will also be placed on waiting lists if they do not meet the entry requirements for their chosen subjects.
  9. Students will be expected to complete chosen courses.  No student will be permitted to ‘drop’ a subject unless the class teacher is convinced that it would be inappropriate for the pupil to continue with the subject. This would normally be as a result of a pupil repeatedly failing end of unit assessments. If a student does ‘drop’ a course they would be expected to attend class but study towards their other subjects.
  10. If it is necessary to change a student’s presentation level at anytime, this will be communicated to parents in writing by the Principal Teacher Curriculum, with a copy of any correspondence passed to Pastoral staff.
  11. Any student who withdraws from a course after the SQA presentation lists are submitted in March may be asked to pay the presentation fee.


Click on the S3 options choice sheet to see what courses are on offer. Every one will study Maths and English but you also have to make four choices and rank them in your order of preference. Remember to also make a reserve choice and mark that with an R.

Work your way through the department folders taking time to read and discuss the information you find there.

Remember, you are not alone in this. There are lots of people who are there to help you.

Now, get cracking! (simply download the relevant pdfs you will need).

When you are ready to make your options then please click on the link below:




Please also see also other relevant downloads on this S4-5 Handbook page