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

533.0 kB

57 page PDF

533.0 kB

Registration of independent schools in Scotland: guidance

57 page PDF

533.0 kB


Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC)

86.       Getting it right for every child is the national approach to improving wellbeing of children and young people and has early intervention and prevention at its heart. The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, which received Royal Assent earlier this year, is rooted in children’s rights and the GIRFEC approach, and puts children and young people at the very heart of planning and delivery of services.

87.       The Act includes statutory duties for proprietors to make arrangements for the provision of a named person service in relation to all pupils in their school. The Named Person is a key element of the GIRFEC approach, and will have a duty to promote, support, and safeguard a child's wellbeing.  This duty is due to commence in August 2016. Statutory guidance is currently being developed to help inform the operation of the service, and will be consulted on with stakeholders, including the Scottish Council of Independent Schools. The guidance is scheduled for publication in summer 2015, a year ahead of commencement.

Child Protection

88. Everyone working with children has a fundamental duty of care towards them and must recognise and manage the risks children face. Independent school prospective proprietors will need to determine their individual responsibilities, and should do this taking account of the requirements of "Protecting Children and Young People: Framework for Standards" and as part of this proprietors should have a written child protection policy and procedures.

89. Prospective proprietors are required to submit a copy of their child protection policy and procedures when they apply to register their school.

90. All managers and staff should be familiar with the requirements of "Protecting Children and Young People: Framework for Standards" as well as the "Protecting Children and Young People: The Charter". These documents are on the Scottish Government's child protection website, at

91. Paragraphs 109 to 112 set out where proprietors can obtain guidance on the Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme ("the PVG Scheme") which was established in Scotland on 28 February 2011 when the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007 ("the 2007 Act") was brought into force. The PVG Scheme ended the use of enhanced disclosures under the Police Act 1997 ("the 1997 Act") for most work with children. Proprietors should ensure PVG Scheme disclosure records are obtained for the relevant staff. If a PVG Scheme disclosure record is not available due to the person's work not being regulated work under the 2007 Act then a basic disclosure under the Police Act 1997 should be obtained.

92. The Scottish Council of Independent Schools (see paragraph 116) has a model of a child protection procedure, and proprietors may find this helpful in drafting their own procedure. It is important that a school's policy and procedures are written in the context of the school's own circumstances and meets the needs of the young people concerned, taking into account the requirements of "Protecting Children and Young People: Framework for Standards".

Pupils with Disabilities

93. The Education (Disability Strategies and Pupils' Educational Records) (Scotland) Act 2002 requires proprietors of independent schools to prepare, and implement, accessibility strategies which cover:

a) increasing the extent to which pupils with a disability can participate in the curriculum;

b) improving the physical environment of the school or schools to make the education and associated services offered by the school or schools more accessible to pupils with a disability;

c) improving communication of school information to pupils with a disability and, in particular, providing school information to those pupils with disabilities in appropriate alternative forms within a reasonable time and taking into account the pupils' needs and any preferences that they or their parents express.

94.       The Scottish Government undertook a consultation in late 2013 to  review  their  guidance for responsible bodies on their obligations under the 2002 Act.  The revised guidance “Planning Improvements for Disabled Pupils’ Access to Education”, was published in November 2014 and Proprietors can obtain an electronic copy at  A full copy of the relevant Act can be found at

95. The Equality Act 2010 replaces previous anti-discrimination legislation, including the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. It simplified and strengthened the law and removed some of the inconsistencies. The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination because of a range of 'protected characteristics' including disability, and includes a duty to make 'reasonable adjustments' for disabled people. The legislation applies to school education.

96. The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended) ("the Act") provides the  framework for providing for children and young people who require some additional help with their learning. The Act aims to ensure that all children and young people are provided with the necessary support to help them work towards achieving their full potential. It also promotes collaborative working among all those supporting children and young people. The Act has been subsequently amended by the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2009 ("the 2009 Act"). The revised code of practice replaces the original code published in 2005 in order to take account of the 2009 Act. It explains the duties on education authorities and other agencies to support children's and young people's learning, this can be found at

97. Particular points to note with regard to independent schools are the following:

a) Where an education authority has placed a child in an independent school then the full provisions of the Act apply. This applies also to prescribed [26] pre-school children in independent partnership early learning and child care settings.

b) A Co-ordinated support plan (CSP) is available only where the education authority is responsible for the child's education.

c) Education authorities have discretionary power to make provision for pupils with additional support needs in independent schools, for whose education they are not responsible.

d) The education authority may comply with a request from a parent to establish whether a child in an independent school, for whose education they are not responsible, has additional support needs or would, if the education authority were responsible for the child's education, require a co-ordinated support plan. Such a request can also be made by a manager of an independent or grant-aided school.

e) If the education authority do establish that the child has additional support needs or would, if the authority were responsible for the child's education, require a co-ordinated support plan then they must provide parents, young person or managers, as appropriate (i.e. whomsoever has made the request), with information and advice about the additional support required by the child or young person.

f) Mediation services - parents of children placed by education authorities in independent schools can access the mediation service of their home education authority if they have disagreements about their education authority's functions under the Act, with regard to their child. Likewise they can access dispute resolution arrangements.

Pupils' Educational Records

98. The Pupils' Educational Records (Scotland) Regulations 2003 give parents a specific right of access to their child's educational records. They apply wherever such records are held by a body responsible for the provision of school education, including an independent school. The Regulations also set our requirements for keeping and transferring pupils' educational records. The Regulations are available on-line at

Administration of Medicine in Schools

99. When considering their own arrangements for administration and storage of medication proprietors may find the Scottish Government guidance "The Administration of Medicine in Schools" helpful. Copies can be accessed on-line at:

Children Missing Education

100. Pupils may leave an independent school for many reasons, such as withdrawal by a parent, exclusion from the school or family relocation. However, it is important that, for all children of school age, schools forward details of pupils leaving their school to the education authority in which the family is known to live (or where there are known family connections). In particular, where there are any concerns for the wellbeing or safety of the pupils, this information must be transferred to the education authority as soon as possible.

101. Independent schools should also take action if a child who they expect to join the school fails to arrive, by taking steps to confirm the whereabouts of the child and alerting the relevant education authority if necessary. If a child over five arrives in school with incomplete or inaccurate information about their previous schools or addresses, this may also be cause for concern. Efforts should be made to gather further information through education authority contacts where possible and by encouraging staff to listen carefully when building a relationship with the child over time (this should not be an investigation or interrogation) in case information is revealed that indicates where the child has previously lived or gone to school.

102. There is a Children Missing from Education (Scotland) Service within the Scottish Government which gives advice to education authorities around children who disappear from view of the school system. Movement between the state and independent sectors is one factor in situations where children may become 'lost' from view of services which help keep them safe and well. Co-operation between the sectors is therefore essential. Further information on the Children Missing from Education (Scotland) Service is available via their website