AN independent review will be launched into the education provided to older secondary school pupils after concerns were raised about a narrowing of subject choices.

Ministers said the move would examine whether any improvements can be made to boost learning for youngsters in S4 to S6.

It comes after a report published by Holyrood’s Education Committee made a series of recommendations following an inquiry into the number of subjects available to pupils.

It raised “serious concerns” over a lack of clarity within the Scottish education system around who has overall responsibility for curricular structure and subject availability.

And it hit out at continuing confusion regarding the responsibilities of Education Scotland, the agency charged with supporting quality and improvement in Scottish education.

The committee said the body is “failing to provide adequate support for the continuing implementation of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE)”, which was introduced in 2010.

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MSPs added: “The evidence provided to this inquiry by senior leaders from Education Scotland revealed a serious gap in knowledge about the current state of curriculum implementation and the associated challenges facing schools which was alarming to the committee and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

Education Secretary John Swinney said CfE “gives children and young people the skills and knowledge to achieve their ambitions”.

He said: “Learners can now choose from the widest range of qualifications ever and what matters is outcomes – and last year a record proportion of pupils went on to positive destinations such as work, training or further study. Following a strong set of exam results, we must continue to ensure teachers can provide the most appropriate senior phase for their learners.

“We will commission an independent review of the senior phase to help us better understand how the curriculum is being implemented in schools and identify any areas for improvement.”

MSPs previously heard 76 per cent of parents felt their children were not able to take all the subjects they wanted because of timetabling clashes between popular subjects.

Evidence indicated timetabling restrictions had prevented pupils in more than half of schools from choosing more than six subjects in S4 - when National 4s and National 5s are studied.

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Around two thirds of 1,000 teachers surveyed by the Education Committee said the range of subjects had narrowed in S5 and S6 and more than 80% said that was the case in S4.

Scottish Tory shadow education secretary Liz Smith said the conclusions of the committee’s latest report are “deeply troubling”.

She said: “Not only do they confirm that subject choice provision has been diminished in S4, with knock-on effects in S5 and S6, but they also confirm that the main education agency, Education Scotland, has lost control of the Curriculum for Excellence.”

Education Committee convener Clare Adamson said: “Our committee found the lack of clear leadership from Education Scotland and SQA around the curriculum structure has resulted in some narrowing of subject choice. This was compounded by a lack of awareness from these bodies, who are charged with supporting Scottish education, about the extent of the problem and their role in leading change.”