Registration of independent schools: guidance for applicants, proprietors, and parents

Guidance covering topics topics such as how to register a new independent school or apply to amend the registration of existing independent schools in Scotland.

6. Other information to note

What if we plan to run a residential school?

Residential schools, or boarding schools, are considered 'school care accommodation services' and must be registered and inspected by the Care Inspectorate. The registration of such services is of interest to the Registrar, but is not part of the Registrar's remit.

What legislation should we be aware of?

Applicants/proprietors are responsible for ensuring their school complies with any and all relevant legislation. Applicants and proprietors will wish to obtain their own legal advice and satisfy themselves that they have considered and comply with all relevant legislation.

Freedom of information

Independent special schools are subject to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 which places a number of responsibilities on the school.


It is for proprietors to satisfy themselves that their school complies with all relevant legislation and holds appropriate insurance for their premises. In terms of school buildings, it is expected that children and young people have adequate space to learn in a suitable environment, with access to an outdoor area for breaks and physical activity.

The following standard is used by HM Inspectors for establishing the appropriate number of lavatories and wash hand basins in schools (for day pupils):

Day pupils


2 for every 15 up to 60;
then 2 for every additional 30 to 300;
then 2 for every additional 60 beyond 300

Wash hand basins

One for each lavatory appliance required, as above.

With regards to living accommodation in boarding schools, the Care Inspectorate will be able to provide relevant advice.

First aid

Depending on the size of the school, it is expected that at least two members of staff are suitably trained in administering first aid.

Child protection training

In line with national guidance, it is expected that each independent school ensures that all staff, volunteers and governors have appropriate child protection training so that all adults are clear on their responsibilities, know how to report a concern, and are confident in how to respond to a disclosure made by child or young person.

It is essential that each school has a suitably trained child protection co-ordinator and deputy child protection co-ordinator.

Such training should be refreshed appropriately.

Fire safety

All proprietors must be satisfied that their school complies with any relevant legislation with regards to fire safety.

Find out more on Scottish Government's guidance on fire law.

Financial viability

The financial viability of a proposed school is not considered as part of the registration process. It is for proprietors to ensure they have a reasonable business plan and to comply with relevant laws regarding the maintaining and publishing of financial accounts.

Annual census

Each September, the Registrar conducts an annual census of the independent sector. Independent schools must provide the information as requested by the Registrar.

The Registrar writes to schools in May or June of each year to outline the information required (learner and teacher numbers for example).


Independent schools in Scotland, largely, follow Curriculum for Excellence. However, they are not obliged to do so and some schools follow other curriculums, or have a blended approach.

All independent schools should, however, deliver a broad and balanced curriculum that covers: English language and literacy; learning another language; mathematics and numeracy; science; technology; social studies; health and wellbeing; physical education; expressive arts; and religious and moral education.



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