Scottish independent education carries a strong tradition for academic excellence, individual learning and extra-curricular diversity that is recognised globally.
Every year, thousands of international boarding pupils come to Scotland from over 50 nations, including Germany, Spain, Russia, China and Hong Kong, to benefit from the high-quality education, outstanding outdoor environment and stable, enduring traditions Scotland has to offer.
So, why aren’t even 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 which may be deterring parents from sending their children to study here.
Here, we look to dispel those myths and provide our international network with a better understanding of what Scotland has to offer:
The weather has a huge influence on people’s perception of Scotland and is a genuine reason why some international parents are shying away from sending their children here. Well, we are there to tell you that it is not THAT bad!
Scotland is known for its stunning scenery and was actually voted the most beautiful country in the world by Lonely Planet. Now you don’t get scenery like it without a bit of rain and wind, but we do get sunshine too! Our wettest months are usually July and August when the schools are on holiday anyway. And if you are worried about the cold, temperatures between Edinburgh and London are not so different.
The weather actually gives our children and young people amazing outdoor education possibilities, you can read more about the extra-curricular opportunities on offer online.
Our research also showed that some international parents are wary of their child developing a Scottish accent. However, spending a few years in a Scottish boarding school is not going to give your child an accent!
JK Rowling has lived in Scotland for the majority of her adult life yet does not have a Scottish accent. And that’s not forgetting some of Scotland’s most famous alumni including Sean Connery, Annie Lennox, Gerard Butler, Nicola Sturgeon, Ewan McGregor, Karen Gillan and Alex Ferguson, none of whom have any trouble being understood!
Our research also revealed that international parents are concerned Scotland is too remote and difficult to get to. But this could not be further from the truth.
Scotland is served by a number of international airports, including Glasgow and Edinburgh, and both major cities are just a one-hour flight from London. If you think that it takes over two hours to get to the likes of Malvern College or Uppingham from Heathrow, it takes just one hour to get from Heathrow to Edinburgh and there are at least five schools within 20 minutes of the airport.
The exam systems
Perhaps the most crucial element of all is the confusion over Scotland’s exam systems and the qualifications your child will get if they come to study in here.
Because they have complete autonomy over the curriculum, all of Scotland’s boarding schools are free to offer whichever qualifications they think best meet the needs of their students. So, you will usually find that most schools offer a combination of Scottish Highers, A Levels and the International Baccalaureate depending on which course content the school feels is best for its students. The result? More choice for your child.
So, if you are an international parent thinking of sending your child to a boarding school in the UK, hopefully we have dispelled some of the common misconceptions surrounding an independent education in Scotland – it doesn’t rain all the time, your child is unlikely to pick up a Scottish accent, it is incredibly accessible, it gives your child much more choice and they’ll enjoy the views from some the best classrooms in the world.