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Scottish School System - what are the differences to England

(28 Posts)
roisin Sat 20-Sep-08 05:01:18

Can someone please explain to me some of the main differences in the Scottish School System, especially secondary?

I know they don't do SATs, but do have Ofsted.

Particular queries are:
What age do children transfer to secondary school? (Summer birthdays May and July.)
I know you have Primary 1 etc, what are the years called in secondary?
When do they do formal/national exams?
What are these called? (I know the top ones are highers.)
And how many subjects do students usually do?
Do they choose options as in England? If so when?
What are current policies regarding Modern Foreign Languages?
Do they have cover supervisors in Scotland?
Teaching Assistants at secondary schools?
Plus anything else you think might be of particular interest to me!

roisin Sat 20-Sep-08 11:08:53


Ceolas Sat 20-Sep-08 11:15:41

I know they don't do SATs, but do have Ofsted.
Ofsted equivalent is called HMIe

Particular queries are:
What age do children transfer to secondary school? (Summer birthdays May and July.) They would start when they are 12

I know you have Primary 1 etc, what are the years called in secondary? P1-7, S1-6

When do they do formal/national exams?
What are these called? (I know the top ones are highers.) Standard grades in May/June of S4 (your kids would be 16 and 15). Highers or Intermediate 1/2 in S5 and 6. They are 1 year courses so you can do some in S5 and more (or Advanced Highers) in S6.

And how many subjects do students usually do?
Do they choose options as in England? If so when? Choose at end of S2 for Standard grades. Up to 8. Highers up to 5 at a time.

What are current policies regarding Modern Foreign Languages? AFAIK you must do a language for 4 years at secondary. Depends on school which languages are offered. Most do French from P6.

Do they have cover supervisors in Scotland?
Teaching Assistants at secondary schools? Not sure what cover supervisors are. TAs are called learning assistants and they are in primary and secondary.

Ceolas Sat 20-Sep-08 11:18:31

Although we don't have SATs, children are tested on a national curriculum which lasts from P1-S2 (until they start standard grades).

Ceolas Sat 20-Sep-08 11:25:02

Wrt starting school/secondary, the intake runs from 1st March to 28th (29th) February. So if your birthday is on 28th February you can start in August when you are still 4 (although you can ask to defer for a year), but if it's 1st March, you wait until the following August.

Yours would have started a couple of months after they were 5.

Clear as mud? wink

Ceolas Sat 20-Sep-08 11:25:25

I'll shut up now. Anything else just ask

roisin Sat 20-Sep-08 11:47:58

Thank you so much, that's really helpful.

roisin Sat 20-Sep-08 11:49:25

Do you know about school admissions timetable?

If we were applying for ds1 to start secondary school (is it called Secondary?) when are the deadlines for applying?

(In the UK it is middle of October.)

Ceolas Sat 20-Sep-08 11:53:44

There's not the same hype about applying for schools. If you live in the catchment area, you'll get in. Even if you turn up the day before term starts. The HMIe website gives reports for all schools in the country so you know what the local schools are like.

Are you moving? My DH knows about a lot of schools

pointydog Sat 20-Sep-08 12:05:07

are you in scotland, roisin?

roisin Sat 20-Sep-08 13:30:12

We are not in Scotland. But we are thinking about the possibilities of moving: maybe in the next year maybe in 2 or 3 years' time.

Thanks for all your help.

roisin Sat 20-Sep-08 13:45:53

I'm still getting my head round this, so the cut-off for year groups is March-Feb, so the children starting S1 next year will be 12.5-13.5 when they start? So ds1 will become an 'average age' rather than being one of the youngest in the school year? Have I understood that right?

The thing about deffered starting age? When did that start? Are there children ds1's age who are older still in his year? So would the age range actually be 12.5-14? Are there many students "out of age"?

When I was at school (many moons ago), Highers were taken at age 17 I'm sure, and Scottish Unis had 4-yr degree courses aged 17-21. When did that all change?

roisin Sat 20-Sep-08 13:47:11

Is that really true about the applications thing? That sounds fantastic! What happens if it's full?

Does virtually everyone go to the catchment school then? Is there any option to go out of catchment?

nailpolish Sat 20-Sep-08 13:49:17

school year starts in august, children can start school if they are 5 between Feb and Feb
if a child is 5 the jan/feb after the august they are eligible to start, they can be deferred til the next august. so instead of starting school at 4 and a half they are 5 and a half

so in other words yes your children will be average age

Ceolas Sat 20-Sep-08 14:13:54

The older children in the year have March birthdays, younger ones have their birthdays in Jan/Feb as nailpolish says. Re defering- my DD's birthday is end feb so we defered and instead of starting at 4 yrs 5 mths she was 5 yrs 5mths. It's only really an issue for Jan/Feb birthdays. You must start by the Aug following your 5th birthday.

You start secondary between 11.5 and 12.5 years old.

Was asking DH about the admissions thing and it's definitely the way. Never heard of a full school although apparently there was a case recently in the borders when taking a child who had moved into the catchment area would have meant employing another teacher. The council was told to employ another teacher.

You can apply to go to a school outwith the catchment area but it's more common in primary school. It's called a placing request and you would apply to the council in which the school was. You'd need to check with the individual council if this was the case.

roisin Sat 20-Sep-08 15:29:42

Sounds great!
Thanks again.

pointydog Sat 20-Sep-08 19:35:31

Scottish unis still 4 yr courses for most

Skramble Tue 30-Sep-08 14:07:27

Not many parents seem to defer starting school so most children in each year are in that 1 year age band.

Free nursery from age 3, start term after they are three then Pre school year is for 4 year olds they will get 5 mornings or afternoons in a nursery class attached to a primary school or a self contained council nursery school. Free portion of nursery education can be in a private nursery and you fund the rest if more hours req. (this may be similar in England anyway.

All first and second years will do a foreign language, might get both fench and german, or may choose before starting 1st year and do that language only, some schools do offer other languages but normally from 3rd year. In 3rd year they choos shich language to study for Standard Grade, but can choose to do no language.

Standard Grades include more than the English equivalent. E.g. Maths is maths and includes everything, not divided up, similar with English not divide into English lit and whatever. Thats why the max is usually 8 as they cover more. Think it must be similar with Highers in that they have a broader base.

They choose their options for 3rd year in 2nd year for their Standard Grades.

Skramble Tue 30-Sep-08 14:14:07

Typical hours for secondary

Registration 8:50 - 9:00
Period 1 9:00 - 9:55
period 2 9:55- 10:45
Interval 10:45- 11:00
Period 3 11:00- 11:55
Period 4 11:55- 12:50
Lunch 12:50- 1:40
Period 5 1:40 - 2:35
Period 6 2:35- 3:30

Can vary from region to region.
Primary school usually finishes 3:00 or 3:15, again varies region to region as do some holiday dates. my kids are in two different council regions and in service dates etc are different, keeps me on my toes.

Skramble Tue 30-Sep-08 14:39:39

School year

Teachers return Tuesday 14th August 2007
Pupils return Wednesday 15th August 2007

September Close Friday 21st September 2007
Re-open Tuesday 25th

Mid Term Close Friday 12th October 2007
Re-open Monday 22nd October 2007

Christmas Close Friday 21st December 2007
Second Term Re-open Monday 7th January 2008

Mid Term Close Friday 8th February 2008
Pupils return Thursday 14th February 2008

Easter weekend Close Friday 21st March 2008
Re-open Tuesday 25th

Easter Close Friday 4th April 2008
Third Term Re-open Wednesday 22nd April

May Day Holidays Monday 5th May 2007

Friday 23rd May

Monday 26th May 2008

summer Close Friday 27th June 2008

sunnygirl1412 Wed 15-Oct-08 13:53:06

We have just moved to Scotland, and my older two ds's are secondary school age. We were told we might not get a place for the eldest at the school of our choice if we left it until we moved up - there was only one place left in his yeargroup and if someone moved into catchment before us, he'd have had to go to another school further away.

In the end, we rented a house in catchment 6 weeks earlier than the planned date of the move, and paid council tax from then, in order to get the place. We even had to spend a week up here in a hotel so they could start school on the date the school wanted them, which was before the removal date.

It was worth it, though, because it's a very good school and they are very happy there.

Roisin - moving to Scotland has been a good move for our family, though I am still feeling somewhat lonely as I haven't built up a circle of friends yet (but I do know this will take time, and we've only been here for 6 months). I have to say, though, we didn't move here for the weather - even the cat needs waterwings at the moment - lol!

roisin Wed 15-Oct-08 15:41:44

Whereabouts are you sunnygirl?

What you say about admissions is the opposite to what Ceolas said, which is a little worrying.

Dh is still very keen, and I'm still very unsure! Watch this space.

sunnygirl1412 Wed 15-Oct-08 16:18:56

I'm in Renfrewshire, roisin - and I got the same conflicting information when I was looking for schools up here. It was made harder (strangely) by the fact that we could live anywhere that was within commuting distance of Glasgow - it gave us too much choice.

In the end, we used league table information to choose schools to look at, and having found a school we liked (which luckily was in a nice town), we rented there until we could buy.

I am honestly sorry to have worried you - and I don't know what would have happened if we had waited until we moved up here and then tried to get No1 into the school we'd chosen.

One thing I will say, though, is that all the Headteachers that I spoke to whilst I was searching for a school, were very helpful and supportive, and more than willing to spend time answering my questions, even when they didn't pertain exactly to that school.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 15-Oct-08 17:17:07

Message withdrawn

roisin Wed 15-Oct-08 18:08:08

But if you're moving out of normal school applications time what happens StewieGriffinsMom? If we move we might be moving somewhere semi-rural, so there may not be a problem.

Sunnygirl - you talk about "league tables": I thought they didn't have those in Scotland?

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