IF YOU’RE heading north of the border on a posting with little (or big) ones in tow, you’re likely to come across some significant differences in education. So, what do you need to know? Here’s our rough guide to schooling in Scotland…


‘Curriculum for excellence’ is Scotland’s curriculum for children and young people aged three to 18. 

If your child is three or four, you can get up to 600 hours free childcare a year – the equivalent of 16 hours a week if taken in term-time – funded by the Scottish Government. This increases to 1,140 hours by August 2020 – although at many nurseries it’s already available. Depending on whether you’re eligible for certain benefits, you may also be entitled to childcare funding if your child has turned two. Visit your local council’s website or mygov.scot/childcare-costs-help

School stages
Generally, children start school in Scotland later than in England, depending on when their birthday falls. If you feel your child is not ready, you can apply to defer their start date by a year. You’ll be granted this automatically if your child has a January or February birthday, but more evidence is required if their birthday is before then. They’ll be granted an extra year at nursery.

Applying for a place
You’ll automatically get a place in your catchment school, but there’s no guarantee if you request a school out of catchment. School enrolment dates vary throughout Scotland, so check with the local council.

Primary school
Children start in primary 1 and go through to primary 7. All children in primaries 1-3 receive free school meals. Children move up to secondary school aged 11-12 depending on when they started school. 

Secondary education
This has two phases – completion of the broad general education (S1-S3) and the senior phase (S4-S6). Senior schools, in collaboration with colleges and employers, have the flexibility to offer a range of experiences. Young people can also study a range of vocational qualifications, including apprenticeships.

Additional support
If your child needs additional support, there’s an advice service at enquire.org.uk

Work-related courses
Scottish vocational qualifications are available in many subjects and can be studied in the workplace, college or with training providers. Check with your chosen college about funding criteria.  

Higher education
Your young person may be entitled to financial support from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland if you were ordinarily resident in Scotland before your soldier enlisted or if you meet the ordinary residency criteria. You can find details at saas.gov.uk

Moving to Scotland?
forceschildrenseducation.org.uk has a wealth of helpful resources. If you have any questions, AFF education specialist Jilly Carrell (ec@aff.org.uk) or our Scotland co-ordinator, Jenny Goodacre (scotland@aff.org.uk) can help.

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