If you are considering a posting to Scotland, or have recently relocated there, you may be interested to learn more about the Scottish education system and support available to Service families.

The Scottish Education System

Education in Scotland is devolved, this means the overall policy and regulations are set by the Scottish Government.  The responsibility for delivering adequate and efficient educational provision rests with Scotland’s 32 councils, acting as education authorities.

All state schools in Scotland, with one exception, are run directly by local authorities. All secondary schools are comprehensive, and schools do not use the 11-plus or any other test of academic attainment to manage entry requirements. The Scottish Curriculum for Excellence covers education from 3-18 years and places learners at the heart of education, looking at the whole child.

Early Years

Early learning and childcare (ELC) is the term used to cover the full range of early education and childcare available in Scotland; including nurseries, childminders and family centres. Children in Scotland between the ages of three and five are offered 1,140 hours per year of free, non-compulsory ELC (around 30 hours a week if taken in term time) and eligible 2 year olds may also receive ELC funded by the Scottish Government.

Primary School

Children in Scotland usually start primary school between the ages of 4 ½ and 5 ½ years old. Every child has a right to a free place at school and guidance is available on choosing a school for your child. Scottish primary schools go from Primary 1 (P1 – the equivalent to Reception in England) to Primary 7 (P7).

Secondary School

In Scotland, the secondary school curriculum has two distinct phases: the broad general education (Secondary 1 – Secondary 3) and the senior phase (Secondary 4 – Secondary 6).

Qualifications for secondary students in Scotland include Nationals (usually taken by students in S4 and a similar level to GCSEs), Highers (usually taken by students in S5 and a similar level to the old AS levels in England) and Advanced Higher qualifications (usually taken by students in S6 and a similar level to A Levels).

The UK Government website has guidance on the school leaving age which varies depending on where you live in the UK. The Scottish Government website has information on the options available to students leaving school in Scotland.

Support for 16+ Learners

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) is the national skills body which delivers Scotland’s careers services in schools, in high street SDS centres and online. Careers advisors work in partnership with every state school in Scotland and deliver career guidance to students from S1-S6. SDS advisors also offer expert career information, advice and guidance to customers of all ages.

Guidance for students from an Armed Forces background considering applying to higher education institutions is available from GOV.UK,  UCAS and the Service Children’s Progression Alliance.

Scottish term dates

For school term and holiday dates in Scotland visit mygov.scot

Education Support for Service families

The Education Advisory Team (EAT) provide information, advice and guidance regarding the education of Service Children in the UK. Service personnel and families can contact the EAT for support with education-related matters via email at [email protected].

Funding for Education

Students may be able to get help paying for university or college tuition fees and living costs and each nation of the UK has its own funding agency. Got to Student finance: GOV.UK for information on what is available for students applying from different areas of the UK. Higher education for Service children: GOV.UK has key information about higher education for Service children including funding, applying for university and top tips.

The Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) website has information on the eligibility criteria and funding process for students applying for funding from the Scottish funding stream. SAAS provide guidance on Residence conditions for UK nationals which includes information for Armed Forces personnel and family members considering applying for educational funding in Scotland.

Go to our Support for Children and Young People page for information on the support available for children from an Armed Forces background – including charitable organisations who are able to award financial grants to eligible Service children to support with educational costs.

Getting It Right For Every Child

Getting It Right For Every Child (known as GIRFEC) is the national approach which aims to ensure all people supporting a child work together seamlessly to provide the right help at the right time.

Scotland does not offer the Service Pupil Premium. Instead, the GIRFEC approach helps services provide high quality support to Service children (0-18 years) and their families when it is needed, including a point of contact for children and families to go to for initial support and advice. Staff use the wellbeing wheel to assess children’s wellbeing, and identify any areas where a child may need support.

Additional Support Needs

In Scotland, the term Additional Support Needs (ASN) is used instead of Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND). The definition of ASN is broader than SEND and includes many more children. Children are supported according to need and do not need a formal diagnosis to access support. It is presumed the ASN of a child will be met within mainstream schooling and support will be offered there by the ASN staff available to every school in Scotland. However, the needs of some children and young people may be better met in a specialist setting, entry to which is subject to thorough assessment processes within which the parents and child are key partners.

The Education Advisory Team (formerly known as CEAS) are able to offer information, guidance and support regarding Service children’s education, including ASN / SEND.

Enquire is the Scottish advice service for additional support for learning and offers advice for parents and carers; information for professionals and resources to help you understand children’s rights to support at school and nursery, the rights of parents and carers, and responsibilities of professionals. The Enquire website has key information for families Moving to Scotland.

Useful Links and Resources

Further guidance on education in Scotland is available on the Forces Children’s Education website, including a guide for Armed Forces families on Understanding the Scottish Education System.

The following links may also be of interest to Service families considering relocating to Scotland: