Publication - Advice and guidance

Registration of independent schools in Scotland: guidance

Published: 25 Nov 2014

Guidance notes for proprietors of new and existing independent schools.

57 page PDF

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57 page PDF

533.0 kB

Registration of independent schools in Scotland: guidance
Page 3

57 page PDF

533.0 kB


62. When considering registration and the continued registration in respect of existing schools, Ministers require to be satisfied that the school's premises, including teaching areas, social spaces, and boarding accommodation is suitable, safe and fit for purpose.


63. The accommodation standards expected in an independent school are not set down in legislation but are based on established practices and procedures gained over many years by HM Inspectors when carrying out inspections. Proprietors may find it helpful to look at the quality indicators contained in How Good is Our School? and published HM Inspectors reports. Especially for proprietors providing boarding schools they should become familiar with the National Care Standards appropriate to school care accommodation services and quality assessment indicators used by the Care Inspectorate inspectors.

64. The educational accommodation in an independent school should be suitable and adequate for the purpose for which it is to be used, having regard to the size of the area and the number of pupils. Schools should provide adequate facilities for social activities and should ensure that adequate and suitable space is available for play and recreation.

65. Proprietors will wish to be aware that in accordance with established practices and procedures HM Inspectors use the standards set out below as the basis for evaluating the sanitary facilities provided by an independent school.


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.

66. The Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001, requires proprietors and managers of independent schools to promote and safeguard the welfare of pupils in residential accommodation provided by a school.

67. Where a school provides boarding or living accommodation, the main aim should be to ensure that each pupil enjoys the amenities of a good home. Facilities are required for recreation and social life as well as for study, sleeping and eating. Outdoor areas are very important to pupils' health and wellbeing, and give opportunities for sport and outdoor activities. Study areas may be provided in various ways, integrally and separately. Sanitary facilities, sleeping areas and day rooms should be suitable for the number and sex of the pupils, and conveniently located. Safe and adequate means of escape must be in place in case of fire or other emergencies. Good heating, lighting, ventilation and adequate security, are essential in all living areas.

68. For sleeping accommodation, bedrooms shared by smaller groups of pupils have the advantage of helping to create more of a family atmosphere and giving greater privacy than open dormitories. For older pupils, study bedrooms may be preferred. Each pupil should be provided with "a place of his/her own", with ample space for a bed and for storage of clothes and belongings, and for expressions of personal taste. There should be sufficient circulation space, and safe and convenient access to lavatories and showers/bathrooms. A resident member of staff should be close to hand.

69. A sick room with adjacent access to lavatories and bathroom facilities is essential. The school doctor will be able to advise on the best means of safeguarding pupils in sleeping areas from the risk of cross-infection and isolating pupils with infectious diseases.

70. The standards set out below are the minimum standards which HM Inspectors use as guidance when inspecting boarding accommodation. These originated from 1959 regulations pertaining to local authority schools which have since been repealed. However they are still considered as a good starting point when inspections of boarding accommodation is undertaken.

Boarding Accommodation

Approx. Floor Area per Pupil

Bedrooms (3 Bed)

6 square metres

Study Bedrooms (1 bed)

9 square metres

Study Space

1 square metre


2 for every 10 pupils


1 for every 10 pupils


2 for every 10 pupils

Wash-hand Basins

4 for every 10 pupils

Fire Safety

71. The importance of adequate precautions against risk of fire, especially in residential accommodation, cannot be over-emphasised. For the purposes of being registered and continuing to be registered proprietors should ensure that they have in place a robust fire safety policy.

72. Proprietors should therefore make themselves aware of the requirements of Part 3 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 (as amended), and the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006. Information about the legislation including rights and responsibilities is available on the Scottish Government's firelaw website at In summary, a fire safety risk assessment of the school and any boarding accommodation must be undertaken and appropriate fire safety measures put in place.

73. Premises may be subject to inspection by the local Fire and Rescue Authority from time to time. When such an inspection has been made, a copy of any report(s) from the Fire and Rescue Authority should be sent to the Registrar of Independent Schools. Where recommendations have been made by the Fire and Rescue Authority, confirmation that these recommendations have been implemented or an action plan detailing when they will be implemented should be sent to the Registrar.

74. When structural changes are made to the school or boarding areas, the school should review the fire risk assessment in light of the changes and arrange for the Fire and Rescue Authority to carry out an inspection if this is deemed necessary. Again a copy of the inspection report should be sent to the Registrar, along with confirmation that any recommendations by the Fire and Rescue Authority have been implemented, or a timetable for implementation.

75. Proprietors may find the guide "Practical Fire Safety Guidance for Educational and Day Care for Children Premises" helpful. It is available at It is also available via the public library network (ISBN 987-0-7559-7025-4)

Health and Safety

76. Proprietors will need to be aware of their responsibility for, and the importance of, health and safety issues. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, as amended, covers every aspect of health and safety in schools and associated school activities, whether or not they occur on school premises, including school trips.

77. The responsibility for health, safety and welfare of employees rests with proprietor, who must:

a) ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees at work by ensuring safe plant, safe systems at work, safe premises and safe working environments;

b) ensure adequate information, instruction, training and supervision;

c) prepare written safety policies and make them known; and

d) in prescribed circumstances, establish a committee.

78. Proprietors should ensure a suitably trained member of staff has responsibility for complying with health and safety issues, including the drawing up and managing of the health and safety risk assessment.

79. The enforcing authority for health and safety in schools is the Health and Safety Executive ( HSE) who have local offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness. Proprietors may find it helpful to refer to the HSE publication "Health and Safety Guidance for School Governors and Members of School Boards". This gives guidance on health and safety law and how it relates to education authority schools. It should be read in conjunction with the latest health and safety legislation (such as the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999). Further guidance and publications on health & safety matters are available at