The Scottish capital is regarded as a thriving educational and academic centre. The standard of education and schools in Edinburgh is among the best in Scotland, and with four universities within the city limits, the metropolis is a great incubator of ideas, second only to the likes of London.

On the whole, the region caters to a wide array of educational needs, from basic education all the way to top-notch further education options. 

All state schools in Edinburgh teach according to the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence, divided into two phases. The first phase is a broad general education, which includes a year of nursery school, seven years of primary school (P1 to P7) and three years of secondary school (S1 to S3). The senior phase consists of two years of post-16 education (S4 to S6).

Public schools in Edinburgh

Students in class

State schools in Edinburgh are highly regarded and are available free of charge as they are funded by taxes.

They operate according to a catchment system. The city is divided into catchment areas, and households are given admission priority at the school associated with their catchment. 

Expat parents should note that the school nearest in proximity might not necessarily be the catchment school associated with their area. For this reason, it is highly recommended to conduct extensive research into which schools serve which areas before choosing accommodation.

Parents can submit a request to the City of Edinburgh for a school that falls outside their catchment zone, but these requests are considered on a case-by-case basis and may not necessarily be granted.

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Private schools in Edinburgh

Independent schools in Edinburgh, also known as private schools, are not funded by taxpayer money or government agencies. Even though the state-sponsored school system in Edinburgh is commendable, many expat parents still prefer to send their children to these tuition-based schools because they are generally regarded as having even higher and more rigorous academic standards.

Private schools also usually have fewer students per class, have first-class facilities, and offer an extensive range of extracurricular activities.

These schools can fill up fast, but admission is not necessarily limited to a specific period, so expat parents can try to gain entrance for their child at various points in the school year. Sometimes, children must pass an examination or sit for an interview to satisfy admission requirements.

International schools in Edinburgh

While there aren't any schools in Edinburgh specifically catering to international students from particular countries, a few schools offer the International Baccalaureate (IB). 

The IB is an ideal choice for many expat families, as it's standardised throughout the more than 5,000 schools that offer it worldwide. It's considered to be a global qualification that is accepted at universities worldwide.

Special-needs education in Edinburgh

The City of Edinburgh Council offers additional learning support to any student requiring assistance. The council evaluates the individual needs of children, which may range from disabilities and difficult home situations to assistance of English as an additional language. The latter is particularly useful for expat families from a non-English-speaking country whose children are still learning the language.

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Tutors in Edinburgh

Tutor helping student by This is Engineering from Pexels

Tutors can be helpful for expat families in many situations. Children from abroad may need a little help with catching up to the local curriculum, or could benefit from extra tutoring for the English language if they're new to it. Parents worried about children losing their mother-tongue language skills while in Scotland should consider hiring a tutor who is a fellow native speaker and can help maintain fluency.

There's a wide variety of tutoring companies to choose from, with some of the most popular being Tutor House, Superprof, and Tavistock Tutors.

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Expat Health Insurance

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Moving your family abroad can be intimidating, but learning about medical options such as family health insurance early on can help you settle successfully.

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  • Paediatric coverage for well-child visits & immunizations
  • Access to dental and orthodontic care
  • 24/7 multilingual Customer Service

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