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What Is an Independent School?

Private or fee-paying schools in Scotland

Scotland’s independent schools (sometimes called private or fee-paying schools) are mostly charitable organisations run by Boards of Governors, inspected by Education Scotland and regulated by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR).

Independent schools are not part of the state-funded system and receive no financial support from the government. This means they are free to set their own curriculum and make decisions in the best interests of their school community. In most cases a fee is charged to cover costs, although financial assistance, bursaries and scholarships are almost always available.


Independent schools in Scotland are registered with the Registrar of Independent Schools, an official of the Scottish Government. The Registrar ensures that independent schools take due care over the health, welfare and education of children.

Registration of independent schools: guidance for applicants, proprietors, and parents.

Education Scotland publishes inspection reports giving information about the education in schools, and all independent schools with boarding and/or nursery facilities are inspected by the Care Inspectorate on a twice-yearly basis.

Scotland offers an extremely high standard of education and around 30,000 children and young people of mixed abilities and backgrounds attend an independent school.

answering questions in class

 What next?

Draw up a shortlist of possible schools, and look out for Open Days. If you have any questions along the way about choosing an independent school, SCIS can offer you free, impartial advice, please do get in touch.

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