Publication - Guidance

Welcome to Scotland: a guide for service personnel and their families moving to Scotland

Published: 29 Jun 2018

Provides practical information to service personnel and their families on topics such as housing, education, healthcare and employment.

20 page PDF

1.2 MB

20 page PDF

1.2 MB

Welcome to Scotland: a guide for service personnel and their families moving to Scotland

20 page PDF

1.2 MB


We want Scotland to be the best place to grow up.

Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC)

Getting it Right for Every Child is Scotland's approach to promote and improve wellbeing to help children and young people thrive. This approach recognises that children and young people will have different experiences in their lives, but that every child and young person has the right to expect appropriate support from adults to allow them to grow and develop to reach their full potential. You can find more information at

You can find full information regarding school education in Scotland on our Parentzone website at

Also, the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland website 'Forces Children's Education' includes lots of information for Service families and practitioners and is available at

Early Years Learning and Childcare

Funded early learning and childcare is free to parents, but funded by the Scottish Government.

If your child is 3 or 4, you can get up to 600 hours a year (the equivalent of 16 hours a week if taken in term time). This will be increasing to 1140 hours a year by August 2020. You can claim your funded early learning and childcare place by visiting your local council's website. More information is available at

Depending on whether you are eligible for certain benefits, you may also be entitled to funding for early learning and childcare if your child has turned 2. You can find more on entitlement and eligibility to childcare for children aged between 2 and 3 years old at

Once your child qualifies for early learning and childcare, they will stay qualified.

School Age and Stages

There are differences in the ages children start school across the UK, and children might start school later in Scotland than they would in England.

Scotland provides free school education for all children from the age of around four and a half to five, up to age 18. Depending on when their birthday falls, some children can start before they are four and a half. Scotland has different enrolment and school entry dates than other parts of the UK.

Your local council is responsible for providing school education in the area you live. You can find full information on applying for all school places and placing requests in 'Choosing a school – a guide for parents' at

Children start in Primary 1 and move up to the next class each year through to Primary 7. All children in Primaries 1-3 receive free school meals.

Children move up to secondary school automatically after primary school (aged 11 or 12 depending on when they started school). The secondary school curriculum has two phases – completion of the broad general education (S1-S3) and the senior phase (S4-S6).

Senior schools, in collaboration with colleges and employers, have the flexibility to offer a range of experiences to meet the needs of all learners. In addition to national qualifications, young people can also study a range of vocational qualifications, including Foundation Apprenticeships which offer knowledge and skills directly related to employment. Further information on qualifications can viewed at

The School Year

Term Time

The school year is broken into three terms which will include public holidays and may include a mid-term break (schools will be closed for one or two weeks).

  • Autumn term begins in August and usually ends in December.
  • Spring term begins in January and will usually end in March/April.
  • Summer term begins in April and will usually end in June/early July.

Term dates will vary depending on your local authority area. You can find term dates at

My Child Needs Extra Support

Additional Support for Learning and Service Children

Additional support for learning in Scotland is different to Special Educational Needs in England.

In Scotland we understand that children from Service Families may need additional support to overcome barriers to learning which may arise because of the nature of their parent's work. An additional support need can be of short or long-term duration and can arise for any reason. We have a Scottish advice service for additional support for learning, where you will find useful information about when your child might be entitled to extra support. This can be found at

What Will My Child Learn?

Curriculum for Excellence

All children aged 3 to 18 in Scotland learn under Curriculum for Excellence. It is a creative and flexible curriculum which provides a broad-based educational experience valuing skills, attributes and knowledge, and aims to prepare all children and young people for learning, life and work. Also, as part of the Developing the Young Workforce programme, children and young people have a variety of opportunities to learn and develop skills for the world of work.

Further Education

Further education includes courses that are below the Higher National Certificate (HNC) level. These courses are taught in either secondary school or colleges. Courses could include:

  • Academic courses below HNC level
  • Courses that do not lead to formal qualifications e.g. independent living skills
  • Courses on basic skills such as reading, writing and numeracy skills
  • Work-related courses, such as Scottish Vocational Qualifications

Colleges are responsible for assessing an individual's criteria for funding, you should therefore check with your chosen college.

Higher Education

Higher Education in Scotland includes courses of study which are at a Higher National Certificate (HNC) level or above. Individuals can take these courses at college or university and there is no age limit. Higher education courses range from:

  • Higher National Certificate (HNC)
  • Higher National Diploma (HND)
  • Certificate of Higher Education (Cert HE)
  • Diploma of Higher Education (Dip HE)
  • Undergraduate Ordinary Degree
  • Undergraduate Honours Degree

If individuals are students in Higher Education, subject to criteria, they may be entitled to financial support from our Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).

You and your family are entitled to support from SAAS if you:

  • were ordinarily resident in Scotland before you enlisted to the Services; or
  • meet the ordinary residency criteria.

If you are not entitled to support from SAAS, you will still be able to access support from your home UK funding body.

You can find more information on Higher Education funding for members of the Armed Forces and their families at or by calling SAAS direct on: 0300 555 0505.

Community Learning and Development (CLD) and Adult Learning

CLD supports primarily disadvantaged or vulnerable groups and individuals of all ages to engage in learning, with a focus on bringing about change in their lives and communities. Community Learning and Development is widely understood to include:

  • youth work, family learning and other early intervention work with children, young people and families
  • community-based adult learning, including adult literacies and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
  • learning for vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in the community, for example, people with disabilities, care leavers or offenders
  • community development (building the capacity of communities to meet their own needs, engaging with, and influencing decision-makers)
  • volunteer development
  • learning support and guidance in the community

If you want to find out more about community learning and development activities, contact your local authority. More information on CLD can also be found at

More information on Scotland's schools, Curriculum for Excellence and the Developing Young Workforce programme can be found at