Frequently Asked Questions

Updated, December 2013.

  • How many schools are there in Scotland?

Primary 2,056

Secondary 364

Special 149

Total 2,569

  • How many pupils?

Primary 377,382

Secondary 289,164

Special 6,984

Total 673,530

  • When do children start primary?

Pupils usually start primary school at age five, although there are some younger pupils. They attend primary school for seven years.

  • When do children start high school?

Pupils are usually 11 or 12 when they start high school.

  • When do they leave?

Pupils can leave school after turning 16. This is usually after fourth year. However, many children choose to stay on to complete fifth and sixth year.

  • What's the Scottish equivalent of GCSEs and A levels?

In Scotland, pupils sit Standard Grades instead of GCSEs and Highers instead of A levels. These aren't the only qualifications available to pupils. More information is available at the qualifications section of this site.

  • Can parents choose which school to send their children to?

Yes. Parents can make a placing request to a school of their choice, whether that's in their council area or not.

  • How many denominational schools are there?

Scotland has 370 state-funded faith schools - 366 Catholic, one Jewish and three Episcopalian. These schools play an important part in education in Scotland. We believe it's important for parents and pupils to have the choice to attend a faith school, if they want to.

  • How big are classes?

In 2006 the average Primary P1 class size was 23.1. The latest census (December 2013) shows a reduction to 21.2, an increase on the 2012 figure, 20.6.  Secondary class size information is not generally collected. Further information

  • How many teachers are there?

In 2013 there were 49,790 teachers in Scotland (excludes pre-school).

  • How do I become a teacher in Scotland?

There are opportunities for committed and qualified teachers in Scotland. For more information on how to become a teacher, please visit the Teach in Scotland website.

  • How do I find out about independent schools in Scotland ?

There are 102 independent schools across Scotland. For more information on independent schools, please visit the Scottish Council of Independent Schools website. The Independent Schools Register also contains a range of information, including the address and contact details schools, the current maximum rolls and whether boarding facilities are provided.

  • Is bullying a problem in Scottish schools?

Bullying is totally unacceptable and is not tolerated in Scottish schools. Every school must have an anti-bullying strategy and act quickly to take action whenever an incident of bullying occurs. We have no reason to think that Scotland has a particular problem with bullying.

  • What about children who need additional support in school?

Some children require additional help to get the most from their education. There are many reasons why a child may need additional help. They may be going through a tough time at home and need extra support from teaching staff, they may need assessment for dyslexia or it could be they are very gifted in a subject and need specialist tutoring. The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) 2004 Act places statutory duties on Education Authorities to make sure that children who do need help get it. This could be extra help from teachers, counsellors or health professionals.

  • What help is available for gifted children?

Gifted children often need extra support at school to make sure that they are challenged and kept interested. The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) 2004 Act places statutory duties on Education Authorities to make sure that children who do need help get it. That applies just as much to gifted children as it does to those with physical disabilities or learning difficulties.

  • What are health promoting schools?

Every Scottish school is working towards becoming a health promoting school. These are schools which encourage everyone at the school to live a healthy life and working to ensure the physical, social, spiritual, mental and emotional well-being of pupils and staff. They do this through what's taught in schools and also by promoting healthy living in all that they do. Many work with communities and families in the local area to take the message even further.

  • Are school meals healthy?

Yes. Scotland is ahead of the game when it comes to school meals. The Schools (Health Promotion and Nutrition) (Scotland) Act 2007 and the Nutritional Requirements for Food and Drink in Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2008 have placed duties on education authorities to meet tough nutritional standards for food and drinks sold and served in schools.

  • Can schools keep my children in over lunchtime?

Schools set their own policy on this.

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