The Scottish capital is regarded as a thriving educational and academic centre. Schools in Edinburgh are among the best in Scotland, and with four universities within the city limits, the metropolis is generally accepted as 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 an impressive primary school sector all the way to top-notch further education options.
All state schools in Edinburgh teach according to the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence, in which schooling is 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 starts in S4 at age 16 and concludes in S6 at age 18.
Public schools in Edinburgh
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.
It is possible for parents to place a request with the City of Edinburgh for a school other than those that appear within their catchment, but these demands are not necessarily granted.
Private schools in Edinburgh
Independent schools in Edinburgh, also known as private schools, are not funded by taxpayer money nor 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 consistent academic standards.
Private schools also usually have fewer students per class, have first-class facilities and offer an extensive range of extra-curricular activities.
These schools can fill up fast, but admission is not necessarily limited to a specific period of time, 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 globally-minded qualification and is widely accepted at universities around the world.
Special-needs education in Edinburgh
The City of Edinburgh Council offers additional support for learning 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 moving from a non-English-speaking country whose children are still getting the hang of the language.
Homeschooling in Edinburgh
Homeschooling is legal in Scotland. Parents need to notify the city council if withdrawing a child from school. Children who are newly arrived in the country and haven't yet enrolled in school can be homeschooled without notifying the authorities.
Parents homeschooling their children are legally obligated to provide an education that is suitable for the child's age, ability and aptitude. The relevant authorities are entitled to ensure that conditions are adequate. This is usually in the form of an annual review.
Tutors in Edinburgh
Tutors can be helpful for expat families in a number of 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 it isn't their mother tongue. Those 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.
Expat Health Insurance
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