Professor Hayward's Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment - public consultation

Page 1 of 13

Closes 13 Jan 2023

Curriculum for Excellence - Four Capacities 

The 3-18 curriculum in Scotland is underpinned by the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE). CfE currently sets out four areas important for every learner. These four areas are often called the four capacities. They are that everyone should become a:

  • ‘successful learner’
  • ‘confident individual’
  • ‘effective contributor’
  • ‘responsible citizen’

Additionaly they should be able to do what is set out in the more detailed exemplification of each of the capacities, see below for more information.

Whilst most courses in the senior phase have been designed to support the realisation of the four CfE capacities, in phase one of the review we have heard from many that qualifications taught in the senior phase of Scotland’s schools and colleges 'focus too much’ on ‘only one’ of the four capacities namely ‘successful learners. This view was also shared with Professor Ken Muir and is discussed in his 2021 report ‘Placing learners at the centre’.  

More information on the four capacities

Successful Learners


  • enthusiasm and motivation for learning
  • determination to reach high standards of achievement
  • openness to new thinking and ideas

and able to:

  • use literacy, communication and numeracy skills
  • use technology for learning
  • think creatively and independently
  • learn independently and as part of a group
  • make reasoned evaluations
  • link and apply different kinds of learning in new situations

Confident Individuals


  • self respect
  • a sense of physical, mental and emotional wellbeing
  • secure values and beliefs

and able to:

  • relate to others and manage themselves
  • pursue a healthy and active lifestyle
  • be self aware
  • develop and communicate their own beliefs and view of the world
  • live as independently as they can
  • assess risk and take informed decisions
  • achieve success in different areas of activity

Effective Contributors


  • an enterprising attitude
  • resilience
  • self-reliance

and able to:

  • communicate in different ways and in different settings
  • make informed choices and decisions
  • work in partnership and in teams
  • take the initiative and lead
  • apply critical thinking in new contexts
  • create and develop
  • solve problems

Responsible Citizens


  • respect for others
  • commitment to participate responsibly in political, economic, social and cultural life

and able to:

  • develop knowledge and understanding of the world and Scotland’s place in it
  • understand different beliefs and cultures
  • make informed choices and decisions
  • evaluate environmental, scientific and technological issues
  • develop informed, ethical views of complex issues
1. Should information be gathered across all four capacities?
2. Please consider each of the capacities in turn. What kinds of information should be gathered on learners’ progress and achievements in each capacity?