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How to apply for an independent school in Scotland

We sat down with Fiona Gordon, Head of Admissions at Fettes College in Edinburgh who offered her advice on the application process for independent schools in Scotland

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A Spotlight on Corseford: A Capability Scotland School

Clare McCarron, Head of Corseford School, discusses what makes this independent school unique. 

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6 Reasons why boarding school is the right choice for your child

We explore six reasons why boarding school may be the perfect choice for your child.

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5 Reasons Why Teachers Should Choose Their Probationary Year at an Independent School

If you're a new teacher considering your probationary year, here are five reasons why you should consider an independent school.

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Choosing an independent secondary school for your child: everything you need to know.

A guide on how to choose an independent secondary school in Scotland.

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What is SCIS in 2023?

A guide to what SCIS does for parents, teachers and member schools.

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Supporting Independent Schools Through Financial Challenges

As the independent school sector experiencing increasing financial challenges, SCIS shares how it is helping member schools. 

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Merchiston Castle School leads the way in STEM education 

Merchiston is awarded the STEM Nation Award by Education Scotland.

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Scotland’s Independent School Sector Explained

SCIS explains the ins and outs of the independent school sector 

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Prioritising Teacher Mental Health and Wellbeing at SCIS Schools

Teaching like any other profession, is not without its challenges. In this blog, we highlight the measures Scottish independent schools are taking to support their teachers’ wellbeing

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5 Reasons why school trips are an essential part of learning  

We delve into the transformative power of school trips and uncover the incredible advantages they bring to students' lives.  

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The key findings from our 2022 CENSUS 

The results of our annual CENSUS are in, revealing a rise in both independent pupil numbers and international students.   

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A guide to transferring your child to a new school

The SCIS team goes through the process of changing schools, and how you can best prepare your child for the move.

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Three years on: The long-term impact of Covid-19 on Scotland’s independent schools

Despite it being three years since the first lockdown, the effects of Covid-19 continue to be wide-reaching, impacting our health, our economy, our society and perhaps more so than anything, our young people’s health and well-beingWith this in mind, let’s reflect on the lasting impact the pandemic has had on our schools. 

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Why do Scotland’s independent schools have charitable status? 

As the body representing independent schools in Scotland, we are often asked why fee-paying schools are granted charitable status.  

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How Scotland’s independent schools can manage financial pressures 

While we know that our schools are facing a set of unprecedented economic challenges, we must remember that our sector is a strong and robust one that has weathered many storms previously. Let’s take a look at those challenges and how Scotland’s independent schools can overcome them. 


International Women's Day: In conversation with three independent school leaders

For International Women's Day 2023, we spoke to three female head teachers to share their thoughts on gender equity.

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Championing women in engineering: Kilgraston School

Scotland's independent schools are leading the way when it comes to championing women & girls in engineering - read our blog with Kilgraston School to discover their STEM success stories.

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The High School of Glasgow wins Digital Wellbeing Award 

The High School of Glasgow wins the Digital Wellbeing Award from Digital Schools Scotland

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School Entrance Exams Explained 

What are independent school entrance exams? And how do you prepare your child for them?

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The International Baccalaureate Explained

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is becoming increasingly popular in independent schools. In this blog, Simon Brian, Head of St Leonards School, explains the global appeal of the IB.

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Place2Be supports Scottish school children and staff’s mental health 

As children start a new school year, Place2Be continues to work across the UK to roll out crucial programmes to support the mental wellbeing of thousands of young people.  Read more

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Reflecting on Book Week Scotland 

As Book Week Scotland comes to an end, teachers from the all-boys independent boarding school, Merchiston, share their favourite books of all time and why.  

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How boarding school prepares pupils for later life

In this blog, we share how the boarding school experience sets pupils up for adult life so they can gain independence, grow their resilience and build lifelong friendships.

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How to become an independent school teacher

Looking for a rewarding, fulfilling and varied career? Why not consider a career as an independent school teacher - here's how you can become one.

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What to expect at an independent school open day: Part 2

We continue our guide to the questions you should be asking at an open day to make the most of your visit.

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What to ask at independent school open days: Part 1

Choosing the right school for your child is an important decision – here, we provide a handy checklist of questions to ask at a school open day.

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Championing girls in tech: St. Margaret’s School for Girls

We spoke to St. Margaret's School for Girls about the importance of supporting and inspiring girls to enter the world of STEM,

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Student wellbeing & resilience: Merchiston

Creating a positive working environment is a priority for Scottish independent schools - in this blog, Merchiston explain how they support pupil mental health & wellbeing.

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The benefits of exercise for teacher wellbeing

Physical activity is important for everyone's wellbeing - and teachers are no different! Find out how exercise can improve both the quality of teaching and the wellbeing of staff.

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World Environment Day: The future depends on what we do in the present

In this blog, Richard Toley, Headmaster at Lathallan School, explains his school's approach to sustainability and why it is an essential part of any curriculum. 

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Hutchesons' shines a light on the benefits of extra-curricular activities

Extra-curricular activities are an essential part of the independent school experience and offer a wealth of benefits for pupils and teachers - in this blog we hear how a concert at Hutchesons' exemplified these benefits.

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The benefits of teaching at an independent school 

There are so many amazing benefits of teaching at an independent school - Johanna Urquhart, head teacher at Lomond School, describes some of them in this blog.

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Looking back on a year of resilience and growth 

Never before have we reflected on such a challenging and unprecedented year - but it was one that also brought with it opportunities for greater resilience and growth.

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Independent schools on the ICO’s enforcement radar for 2022?

Sean Morris, Legal Manager at Navigator, a flexible employment and HR advice service, explores what steps independent schools can take to ensure that they meet all the ICO standards.

Education and childcare continue to feature consistently as the sector with the second largest number of data security incidents reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). 

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Women in Senior Leadership Roles: Merchiston’s Director of Admissions

As International Women’s Day approaches, we are shining a spotlight on another of the valued women in senior leadership roles across Scotland’s independent schools.

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Women in Senior Leadership Roles: The High School of Glasgow Junior School Head Teacher

We are proud to have many brilliant women in leadership roles at Scottish independent schools and we are taking the opportunity to introduce you to some of them this International Women’s Day.

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TES is in a new era...

And covering Scotland's independent sector will be a key part of that. Jon Severs, Editor of Tes Magazine, explains why in this blog.

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Women in Senior Leadership Roles: Fettes College First Female Head

Ahead of International Women’s Day 2022 we are taking this opportunity to celebrate all of the excellent women in senior leadership roles within Scottish independent schools.

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Pupil mental health & wellbeing: George Heriot's School

From a resident therapy dog to movement-based wellbeing, find out what George Heriot's School are doing to support their pupils' mental health.

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Pupil mental health & wellbeing: St Leonards School

Andrew Durward, Deputy Head of Wellbeing at St Leonards School, offers his insights on the meaning of wellbeing and how it is promoted at the school, for pupils and staff.

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Pupil mental health & wellbeing: Ardvreck School

Ardvreck School's Head of Pupil Welfare, Sarah Mannion, explains how wellbeing is a central focus for the school.

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Pupil mental health & wellbeing: The High School of Glasgow 

We take a look at the ways The High School of Glasgow support the mental health & wellbeing of their pupils.

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Pupil mental health & wellbeing: Merchiston

Scotland's independent schools place huge emphasis on supporting the mental health & wellbeing of their students. Find out how Merchiston do so in this blog.

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How Scotland's independent schools embraced innovation during the pandemic

Scotland’s independent schools approached the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic like they would any other - by embracing the reality of the event and searching for opportunity within it.

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How independent schools promote creative thinking

Scotland's independent schools support pupils to develop a creative thinking mindset - find out how in this blog. 

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How Scotland's independent school standards are maintained

Scotland's independent school standards are maintained through a comprehensive system of channels and checks - find out more about them in this blog.

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Curriculum choice at independent schools

Scotland's independent schools offer an enriching, varied and exciting curriculum choices for pupils - find out more about them in this blog.

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Sustainable SCIS schools: Strathallan

We hear from Strathallan about their commitment to sustainable initiatives - including raising awareness of water & mountain ecosystem conservation.

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What is an independent school? 

What exactly is an independent school, how to they benefit their communities, and what are the benefits of attending? We explain in this blog.

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Sustainable SCIS schools: EMAS and International School Aberdeen

Continuing our spotlight on SCIS school sustainable activities, in this blog we hear from Edinburgh Montessori Arts School and International School Aberdeen.

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Sustainable SCIS Schools: Lathallan School

Lathallan are a school with many sustainability initiatives on the go, including a unique school farm where children learn about their food from field to fork.

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Sustainable SCIS Schools: Dollar Academy

Dollar Academy introduced a ground-breaking online learning platform earlier this yearwhich has a focus on sustainability: FIDA – the Futures Institute at Dollar Academy. Find out more about it in this blog.

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Why send your child to an independent school?

There are so many reasons why an independent education is right for your child - find out some of them in this blog.

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Applying for fee assistance at an independent school 

We explain the different types of fee assistance on offer at independent schools and how you can apply for them in this blog.

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How to prepare your child for starting a new school

Starting a new school is a big milestone in a child's life - find out how to make it easier for them in this blog.

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Famous former pupils of Scotland's independent schools: Arts Icons

Did you know that some of Scotland's brightest stars were educated at independent schools? Find out who they are in this blog.

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Early learning at independent schools

Independent schools nurture your child from day one - find out more about the early learning opportunities available at independent schools in this blog.

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Independent school exams: what to expect

This blog explains the range and variety of independent school exams offered at schools across the country.

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What the pandemic has taught schools 

We spoke to Melvyn Roffe, Principal of George Watson's College, about the way in which the pandemic has impacted schools and what the challenges of the past year have taught them.

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How the pandemic has changed the ways schools use technology 

The pandemic has had a huge impact on the ways schools use technology. We spoke to Mark Ramsay, Deputy Head of Senior School at George Watson’s College, to find out the challenges and opportunities the pandemic has presented to the use of technology in their school.

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How sport at schools aids pupil mental wellbeing 

Sport is brilliant for body and mind, and schools sports can help benefit pupil wellbeing. Find out how in this blog.

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Supporting the transition from home learning back to the classroom

The SCIS team offer their advice for ensuring children feel supported as they head back to school again. 

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Why Scotland is the perfect place to raise a family

With stunning scenery, gorgeous parks and cities, a rich culture, welcoming population and family-friendly attractions in every region – we think there’s no better country than Scotland for your family to call home.

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Diversity in independent schools - where are we now?

Robin Macpherson, Head of Robert Gordon’s College, discusses the need for Scotland’s independent schools to maintain focus on diversity of all forms.

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All you need to know about the independent school application process 

If you are thinking about an independent school for your child, in this blog we offer insight into the independent school application process.

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Learning in the 21st century

Ian Munro, Rector of Dollar Academy, explores the '21st century' skills that are essential for today's students - whether that is navigating the digital landscape or what they can learn from history. 

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How to support your child going back to school 

SCIS offers some tips on how you can best support your child as they return to school.

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How schools prepare students for the in-demand industries of tomorrow

In this blog, Dr Dale Cartwright, Deputy Head Learning and Teaching at Merchiston, discusses how schools can prepare pupils for a career in the industries of tomorrow.

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How independent school teachers go the extra mile 

Independent school teachers are committed, passionate and caring – find out how this benefits pupils in this blog.

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Off to a good start: The value of junior school 

Starting school is an exciting time for children. In this blog, Gavin Calder, Head of Junior School at Edinburgh Academy discusses the benefits of starting your child’s independent education at primary age. 

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Staying safe online during Covid-19 

In this blog, Alister Minnis from Lomond School offers some guidance on how we can best keep children safe while they’re spending more time online. 

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The new normal at Scotland’s one-of-a-kind ‘Farm School’ 

Across the country, amid Covid-19 teaching staff at SCIS member schools are finding themselves navigating unfamiliar waters. 

Here, we hear from Richard Toley, headmaster at Lathallan School, about how he's navigating some of these new challenges. 

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Why Thank a Teacher Day has never been more important 

In this blog, we showcase some of the dedication teachers across the country have shown, that has seen them go above and beyond their duties as educators in light of the Covid-19 crisis. 

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How this Scottish school is helping everyone to stay connected during Covid-19 

It’s so important to for schools to remain connected during this time of self-isolation and widespread lock down. We spoke to Mark Becher of The Compass School to hear how they’ve successfully been communicating during the Covid-19 outbreak. 

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How to support children and young people during Coronavirus 

In an effort to get parents and carers talking to children and young people about Coronavirus, Dr Melanie Lees, a clinical psychologist at Gordonstoun has shared her advice with SCIS.

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My role in an independent school: Duncan Wright, Senior Librarian

Libraries are such a vital part of Scotland’s independent schools. In this blog, we speak to librarian Duncan Wright about his role in St George’s School for Girls. 

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The benefits of outdoor learning

Outdoor learning offers fantastic benefits for pupils. We spoke to teachers from St George's School for Girls and Loretto School about what these are.

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Famous former pupils of Scotland’s independent schools: Sporting stars 

In this blog, we take a look some of Scotland’s best sporting stars who attended independent schools. 

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Scotland’s independent schools excelling in STEM subjects as SQA results revealed

As SQA exam results are released this week, we can reveal that in Scotland’s independent schools, 62 percent of pupils studying mathematics have achieved a Higher grade A, with 91 percent achieving a grade A-C.

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Funding an independent education for your child

Though many parents may feel that an independent school would be the best learning environment for their child, some find the potential cost of school fees to be prohibitive. Whilst there’s no doubt that independent education is an investment, financial support is available to help with school fees.

In this blog, we explore how you can get help towards your child’s school fees.

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My role in an independent school: Emma Watson-Massey, Principal Teacher of Design & Technology

In this blog, we speak to Principal Teacher of Design & Technology Emma Watson-Massey about her role in George Heriot’s School. 

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Health and wellbeing: The value of co-curricular activities

With an online culture that bombards them with images of perfection, young people today can often feel under pressure. In this blog, we speak to Simon Burbury at Dollar Academy about the value of co-curricular activities.

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What are the benefits of sending your child to a boarding school?

Boarding schools offer a variety of benefits to both parents and children. Find out what they are in this discussion with Aileen Kane, director of operations at the Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA).

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What Scottish independent schools offer international students

Scottish independent schools can offer so many benefits to international students. In this blog, we find out what these are by speaking to Gemma Gray from Fettes College.

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How independent schools help with wraparound care

Wraparound care has become increasingly vital for busy working families.

In this blog, we speak to John Gilmour, Headmaster at Craigclowan Preparatory School, about how independent schools help with wrapround care. 

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Why nutrition is so important in schools

Nutrition is so important to growing children in schools. In this blog, we talk to nutritionist Julia Hayes, from Thomas Franks, about how schools can incorporate a healthier diet for pupils and what the benefits of this are.

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How to budget for school fees

When considering an independent education for your child, one of the biggest concerns for parents is how to manage the cost of sending them to an independent school.

With this concern in mind, SCIS spoke to Dave Roberts, Director of Chiene and Tait, a chartered accounting firm in Edinburgh. 

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A guide to the independent school entrance assessment process

There are a lot of misconceptions around the independent school application process, however in reality it is a relatively straight forward process that may include some form of pupil assessment. 

Whether you’re in the process of applying or just looking to find out more about the process, our guide to independent school entrance assessments will be a useful guide. 

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Can you get a scholarship to an independent school?

Scholarships offer the chance for talent to be rewarded in independent schools.

In this blog, we explore the options available for those looking for a scholarship and give advice on how you can go about applying.

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Children’s personal data: ICO guidance updates on the way

In July, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) held its annual Data Protection Practitioners’ Conference (DPPC) shortly after its announcement of an ambitious three-year strategic plan. Consultation on the draft plan (called ICO25) closed last week, with the finalised version expected to be in operation from October 2022. 

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How an independent education can help your child find their niche

Whether it’s a love of a specific subject, a sport your child never tires of playing or an extra-curricular activity they could spend all day doing, independent schools allow children to explore their minds and abilities and find something that will get them jumping out of bed in the morning. 

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Why an independent school was the right choice for me

Laura Walker is a sixth-year student at Robert Gordon's College.

Here, Laura talks to us about why an independent school has been the right choice for her. Read this blog to find out how Robert Gordon’s College has benefitted her development and allowed her to flourish.

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Development in independent schools: the opportunities and challenges of successful fundraising

Professional fundraising is important to development in schools. Often known as ‘schools’ development’, it refers to when schools engage with their alumni, parents and other stakeholders to generate support and income toward a school’s strategic objectives. 

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Handling subject access requests at independent schools: what does the ICO expect?

Handling subject access requests (SARs) may soon become an even greater headache for independent schools. 

A new initiative announced in July by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), with a view to safeguarding and empowering the public, is a ‘Subject access request (SAR) generator’ to help individuals identify where their personal information may be held and how to request it in ways which will assist organisations to respond effectively. 

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When do I register my child at an independent school?

When it comes to registering your child at an independent school, the thought of the application process can sometimes seem a little daunting.

We spoke to Caroline Routledge, registrar at St Leonards in St Andrews, to help de-mystify the process.

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Can I afford to send my child to private school?

We recently spoke to Glasgow-based parent, Julie Neill, about why she chose to send her daughter to an independent school in Glasgow. Here she answers the question she asked herself at the beginning of her school search: Can I afford to send my child to private school? Read Julie's blog to hear her views.

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The importance of language subjects in education

Scotland’s independent schools maintain a track record of academic excellence, and this has continued in 2018 with another set of outstanding exam results, which is only strengthened by individual and collective success in sports, art, music and other community endeavours. 

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What is the Barclay Review and how does it impact independent education in Scotland?

You’ve probably seen quite a lot in the news recently about the Barclay Review and its potential impact on Scotland’s independent sector. A lot of the reporting is quite speculative and not entirely accurate. As a result, we get lots of questions and enquiries about what the implications of the Review actually are - read our latest blog to find out.

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Spotlight on East Park School: Celebrating 150 years

East Park School in Glasgow is commemorating its 150th anniversary. Initially founded to support children with disabling conditions including life-threatening health issues, the school has evolved to offer education and residential services to children and young people aged 5 to 18, with a focus on complex additional support needs and Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Read more


Turning Mirrors into Windows

By Lorraine Davidson 

Education has once again moved high up the political agenda, the air thick with policy pledges – to deliver increased per pupil funding, recruit more teachers and break down barriers. 

Unsurprisingly, as politicians look to the general election and beyond, that has also placed independent schools in the spotlight as never before. And that is to be welcomed. Because it presents the sector with an excellent opportunity to share stories of success that perhaps wedon’t always speak of enough so often forged in partnership with local authority schools, for the benefit of all.   Read More...

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How independent schools are helping to bridge the gender gap in STEM subjects 

We spoke to Mark Ashmore, Head of Science at St George’s School for Girls, about the opportunities available for girls in STEM subjects and what St George’s is doing to promote the value of STEM within their classrooms.

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Why I chose to send my daughter to an independent school

Julie Neill, like any parent, wants the best for her child. Up until 6th year, Julie’s daughter happily attended a local school in Glasgow, but unfortunately the school did not offer the advanced higher subjects she wanted to study. Because of a recommendation, her daughter now attends The High School of Glasgow and is completing her education at an independent school.

We sat down with Julie to get her thoughts on the independent education sector in Scotland.

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5 ways the independent sector positively impacts the Scottish economy

Commissioned in 2016, our economic impact report revealed a number of key areas in which SCIS schools positively impact the economy in Scotland. Find out more in our blog. 

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Why independent school parents are vital to the sector’s success

Engaged independent school parents are passionate, not only about the success of their own children, but also that of the whole school. This creates a real sense of community with shared values.

There are a number of opportunities for parents to get involved with their child's school, in this blog we review some of them.

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The top extra-curricular opportunities on offer in Scotland’s independent schools

Scotland’s independent schools offer a varied choice of extra-curricular opportunities for their students to experience to help curious minds wander and uncover previously hidden talents. Find out about the top extra-curricular activities on offer in our blog. 

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How Scotland's independent sector is different

Scotland’s independent schools each have their own values, but they all have one thing in common – they all contribute to making the independent sector in Scotland stand out. Find out more in our blog. 

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Independent school application process – top tips from our expert

We spoke to Jo Easton, Director of External Relations at George Heriot’s, to get her advice and expertise for those looking to apply to an independent school. Read our blog for all of her tips.

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The independent school fee assistance application process in Scotland

Scottish independent schools are much more easily accessible than people expect, thanks to school fee assistance. For more information on independent school fee assistance applications check out our blog.

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Governance in independent schools: Q&A with Gavin Barrie

Governors play a vital role in the running of independent schools. Find out more about their role in this blog.

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Boarding schools in Scotland: A myth buster for international parents

Thousands of international boarding pupils come to Scotland from over 50 nations, but why aren’t more international parents sending their children to study in Scotland? At SCIS, we conducted some research among international parents to discover just that and we were surprised to discover there are a number of myths surrounding Scotland. 

In this blog, we look to dispel those myths which may be deterring parents from sending their children to study here.

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The benefits of teaching in the independent sector

As Warden at Glenalmond College, Elaine Logan knows first-hand the benefits of teaching at an independent school.

We spoke to Elaine to find out all about her career in the independent sector, read what she had to say in our blog.

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What to expect at an independent school open day

For those considering an independent education for their child, attending open days at potential schools is a must. All Scottish independent school open days are coming up between now and mid-November, so it is a good opportunity to visit a number of schools to view their facilities and meet the teachers and students.

Find out how to get the most out of an open day in our latest blog.

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What to expect from independent school nurseries in Scotland

It’s never too early to think about your child’s education. If you’re considering an independent education for your child, you might be interested to hear about independent school nurseries in Scotland. 

Here we’ve answered some of your questions about independent nurseries, dispelled some myths and explained a bit more about what you can expect… 

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Independent nursery: How to give your child the best start in life

How beneficial are independent nurseries? We caught up with Kirsten Lancashire, who loved the experience her son had an independent nursery. Find out what she had to say.

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Scottish independent schools: keeping the highest standards

Independent schools are so-called for good reason. They are autonomous in their management, governance and chosen educational path. The schools are not-for-profit, so not “private” as commonly referred to. 

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Scotland’s independent schools excelling in languages as SQA results revealed

As SQA exam results are released, data from the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS) reveals that 68% of pupils studying foreign languages have achieved a Higher grade A.

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All you need to know about independent all-through schools 

What is an all-through school and how can it benefit your child? We spoke to Alison Duncan, Head of the Junior School at St Columba’s School in Kilmacolm, to find out.

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The Independent School Curriculum explained

We get lots of phone calls and emails from parents who are thinking of sending their child to an independent school but want to know more about the independent school curriculum first. Because independent schools do not rely on state funding, they have more flexibility when it comes to what they teach.

In this blog, we take a look at what Scotland’s independent school curriculum looks like and the benefits it gives your child.

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Dunedin School

A Spotlight on Dunedin School

Dunedin is a small independent school of 21 secondary levels pupils (S1-S6) and provides education for young people who have struggled with mainstream education as a result of personal, social and emotional difficulties. 

We offer pupils a safe supportive and caring environment in which to develop self-respect and self-worth, encouraging a positive attitude to learning and enabling them to aspire to their full potential.


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Lathallan School Awarded Gold Mark for Learning Outside the Classroom

Lathallan School in Johnshaven has received national recognition and has been awarded the Gold Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) quality mark by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC), making it the only all-through school in Scotland to currently hold this Gold LOtC Mark. This award comes just a couple of years after Lathallan was awarded UK Small Independent School of the Year 2021. 


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We need to address the lack of women in computing

Carol Chandler-Thompson, Head of St George's School in Edinburgh, recently discussed issues surrounding the lack of women in computing.  Click Lack of Women in Computing to read the full article in the Times.

Smartphones and computer keyboards are designed for male hands; Google’s speech recognition software voice is 70% more likely to respond to male commands. The World Economic Forum surveyed Linkedln users who self-identified as possessing AI skills:  78% of them are male. Our current gender-based approach to product design is disadvantageous to women and there is a real danger that algorithms are making our world even more unequal.