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A World of opportunity - A Guide to Education and Training in Scotland


A Guide to Education and Training in Scotland

Primary School

Breadth, balance and creativity

Primary schools are the foundation of a broad, basic education. Children aged between 5 and 12 are taught reading, writing and early mathematics and to express themselves through art, music and physical activities. Sometimes that may lead to a maths lesson in the gym. They also explore the possibilities of new technology, using computers from an early age so that many remote schools now enjoy advantages city schools take for granted.

Diversity is encouraged by the system. State schooling is managed by local authorities but key responsibilities for budget and development plans belong to schools themselves. Each school has a character and identity of its own according to its size, the aims of the headteacher, the interests of the School Board and the support of parents and community.

School size

School size varies considerably from rural schools of fewer than 20 pupils with one teacher to urban schools with over 600 pupils and several classes at each stage. Just over one third have 100 pupils or fewer and less than one in ten have 400 or more.


There is no statutory curriculum but the Scottish Executive Education Department's 5-14 Programme, monitored by Her Majesty's Inspectors, lays down guidelines for the progress and performance of children at different stages through primary and early secondary school. Each stage allows for different levels of development.


Primary education is also offered through independent (private) schools ranging from very small schools to large primary departments of 1,000 pupils in large city schools. Some are run on the lines of English preparatory schools for pupils in 8-13 age range.

Primary time-table

The class teacher is expected to be able to teach all areas of the curriculum.

Statistics (2000-2001)

2,271 publicly funded primary schools

420,523 primary pupils

22,429 primary teachers

876.5m overall expenditure

65 independent primary schools

11,727 pupils