Types of school
This information applies to Scotland only
Coronavirus – school closures in Scotland
Schools in Scotland closed on 23 March. They will reopen on Tuesday 11 August if it's safe to do so.
Check your council website for information on back to school arrangements and support for children starting or leaving school.
From 3 June, childminders and fully outdoor nurseries can reopen. Check arrangements with your child’s nursery or childminder.
All other types of childcare, such as nurseries and playgroups, can reopen from 15 July if they choose to do so. This includes childcare for school age children.
Find out more about the reopening of schools and early learning childcare settings on Parent Club.
Childcare hubs for keyworkers and vulnerable children
Local councils should make special arrangements for childcare if:
- you’re a 'key worker' - you need childcare because your job keeps an important service running, like the NHS or police
- a child is considered vulnerable - for example, if they get free school meals, have additional support needs or are at risk.
Check your local council website for changes to childcare ahead of schools reopening.
There's more detail about who's a key worker on the Scottish government website, but the arrangements for your area will be made by your local council.
If you’re not a 'key worker'
Speak to your employer if you need to take time off work to look after children. Read more about taking time off work to look after a dependant on GOV.UK.
SQA exams in Scotland
Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) exams in Scotland won't go ahead in 2020. Schools and colleges will contact students with more information about how they’ll be assessed. You should also check the SQA website for updates.
Coronavirus advice for families
There's more advice for families on the Parent Club website.
Education authority schools
One of the local authority’s obligations is to provide an educational service. The education authority provides free schooling for all 5-16 year olds in the area, as well as school or college places for those who want to stay on after 16.
The education authority:
- makes decisions on what is taught in its schools
- ensures pupils have proper supervision and safe conditions at school
- publishes information on each school in its area
- provides information about how parents can exercise parental choice about which school their children attend.
As a parent you have some choice in which school your children go to.
The parents of pupils at each education authority school may have decided to set up a parent council to support the school and represent parents’ views to the school. In many cases, parent councils will have replaced the old school boards.
The responsibility of the education authority to provide education for 5-16 year olds includes those with additional support needs. Education for pupils with additional support needs is usually provided in mainstream schools, where adequate support should be given. Additional support needs covers a wide variety of needs from bullying to learning difficulties. If you feel that your child needs extra help, you may wish to talk to the school about this. More about additional support for learning on the Enquire website.
There are a number of special schools in Scotland which generally deal with children who have very specific or severe additional support needs. The teachers and other staff are usually specially trained in appropriate methods of teaching and care. A small number of children in special schools attend on a residential basis so that they can receive full-time care.
Some special schools are independently run, for example by charities. The education authority may pay for a child to attend one of these.
Some schools in Scotland are associated with a religious denomination. These schools are provided by the education authority. If you would like your child to attend one of these schools, you can make a special placing request. The schools are run in the same way as other education authority schools. The main differences are:
- special time may be set aside for religious services
- an unpaid religious supervisor, for example the local priest, will report to the education authority on the religious instruction in the school.
If you want your child to learn Gaelic, you should contact your education authority to find out if Gaelic is taught in any of the education authority schools in your area.
If Gaelic is not taught in any education authority schools in your area, you may be able to get your education authority to carry out an assessment of the demand for Gaelic education in your area. If the education authority's assessment finds that there is a high enough demand for Gaelic education, it may have to start providing this. In order to apply for an assessment, you will need to have a child of under school age who you want to learn Gaelic and you will need to gather evidence of other children of the same age in your area whose parents also want them to learn Gaelic.
The assessment request application form is on the Scottish Government website. It should also be available on education authority websites, along with statutory guidance about Gaelic education and details of where to send the application form.
Independent schools are not funded by government. Funding may be from fees only or from both fees and charitable donations.
Some schools may have scholarship schemes to assist with the cost of fees. If you are applying for a place for your child, you may wish to ask the school about scholarships or other financial assistance. You can find out more about independent schools from the Scottish Council of Independent Schools website.
Independent schools must be approved by the Scottish Minister for Schools and Skills. This means it must reach certain standards on premises, numbers, ages and sex of pupils, teaching staff and safety standards. Once approved the school will be placed on the Register of Independent Schools maintained by the Scottish Education Department.
Discrimination in schools
When allocating school places, it is against the law for a school to discriminate:
- against your child because of a disability
- against your child on the basis of race, colour, nationality, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation or because of pregnancy or maternity or gender reassignment
- between boys and girls in admission to a school except where the school is a single sex school
- by the use of faith-based criteria unless the school is associated with a particular religion.
For more information about discrimination in schools see Problems at school.