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Educational System in Scotland

The one tip that you hear expats living in Scotland repeatedly sharing with newcomers is not to buy a home when you first move to Scotland. Rent for a few months or longer so that you have time to find the right neighborhood. Give yourself time to ensure that Scotland is right for you for the long term. If you've already taken time to do those things and are ready to take the plunge and become a property owner, here are tips about buying a home in Scotland.
|-Educational System in Scotland

Scotland has a unique and comprehensive educational system that is designed to provide a well-rounded education for all students. The system is divided into several stages, each with its own focus and objectives. This guide will provide an overview of the main stages of education in Scotland, the process for enrolling children in school, the availability of bilingual education, the types of private schools, and the options for homeschooling and online schooling. Whether you are a newcomer to Scotland or considering a move, this guide will help you understand the educational opportunities available for your children.

What are the main stages of education in Scotland?

The Scottish education system is divided into four main stages: Early Years, Primary Education, Secondary Education, and Further/Higher Education. Each stage is designed to cater to the developmental needs of students at different ages, with a focus on holistic learning and skill development.

Early Years

The Early Years stage, also known as pre-school education, caters to children aged 3 to 5. It focuses on play-based learning to develop children’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive skills. Attendance is not mandatory, but all children are entitled to a free part-time place in a nursery class or at a day nursery.

Primary Education

Primary Education in Scotland is for children aged 5 to 12 and spans seven years, from Primary 1 to Primary 7. The curriculum is broad and balanced, covering subjects like English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Arts, and Physical Education. The aim is to provide a solid foundation for further learning.

Secondary Education

Secondary Education, for students aged 12 to 18, is divided into two phases: the Broad General Education (BGE) from S1 to S3, and the Senior Phase from S4 to S6. The BGE provides a broad education across a range of subjects, while the Senior Phase focuses on qualifications and preparation for further study or employment.

Further/Higher Education

Further and Higher Education in Scotland includes colleges and universities. Colleges offer a range of vocational and academic courses, while universities offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Admission is based on qualifications obtained during the Senior Phase of Secondary Education.

How does a newcomer from a different country enroll their kids in school?

Newcomers can enroll their children in a local school by contacting the school or the local council directly. You will need to provide proof of your address, your child’s birth certificate, and any relevant visa or immigration documents. If your child does not speak English, additional support may be available.

Can children still learning English enroll in a public school?

Yes, children who are still learning English can enroll in public schools in Scotland. Schools provide English as an Additional Language (EAL) support to help these students develop their English language skills.

Are there public bilingual schools?

While there are no public bilingual schools in Scotland, many schools offer language immersion programs or teach languages as part of the curriculum. Additionally, there are private international schools that offer bilingual education.

What types of private schools are common in Scotland?

Private schools in Scotland, also known as independent schools, include day schools, boarding schools, single-sex schools, and co-educational schools. There are also international schools that offer international curriculums like the International Baccalaureate (IB).

Do expats typically send their children to public or private school?

Whether expats choose public or private schools for their children depends on individual circumstances and preferences. Some prefer public schools for their inclusivity and curriculum, while others prefer private schools for their smaller class sizes and additional resources.

How expensive are Private schools in Scotland?

Private school fees in Scotland can vary widely, from a few thousand pounds per term to over £30,000 per year for boarding schools. It’s important to check with individual schools for their specific fee structures.

Are you allowed to homeschool while living in Scotland?

Yes, homeschooling is legal in Scotland. Parents who wish to homeschool their children must seek consent from their local education authority. They are required to provide an efficient and suitable education for their child.

May kids attend online school instead of a local school while living in Scotland?

Yes, online schooling is an option in Scotland. However, parents must ensure that the online school is registered with the Education and Skills Funding Agency and that the curriculum meets the standards set by the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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