Expat parents will be glad to know that the standard of education in Aberdeen is generally high. With two universities that date back centuries and still rank among the best in Scotland, learning is part of the city’s fabric.

Schools in Aberdeen are either state-run or private. With only a small minority of children in Aberdeen attending private school, it's well worth considering state school as an option. Education Scotland does regular inspections of all schools, the results of which can be accessed on the Education Scotland website.

All of Aberdeen’s state schools (and all private schools but one) follow the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence, which divides schooling into two main phases. The first phase is a broad general education, starting with nursery at age 3 and continuing through 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 Aberdeen

Expats can choose from a variety of primary and secondary schools in the city, many of which have good reputations.

Pupils generally attend a school based on where they live. Those wanting to attend a school outside of their zone or who have not attended an Aberdeen City Authority primary school are required to apply at their chosen school. 

Private schools in Aberdeen

There aren't many options for private schools (known as independent schools) in Aberdeen. With fewer than 10 private schools in the city, parents may find it difficult to secure a spot for their child. Unlike public schools, private schools charge fees. Considering that there are also good public education options available in Aberdeen, this may be an unnecessary expense.

That said, there are a number of benefits associated with private schools, such as smaller class sizes, superior facilities and diverse extra-curricular programmes. If expats decide to go this route, it's best to enquire and apply early.

International schools in Aberdeen

There are no international schools in Aberdeen in the traditional sense of the term – that is, schools teaching the curriculum of a foreign country. However, the good news for parents is Aberdeen is home to one of only four International Baccalaureate (IB) schools in all of Scotland. The IB curriculum is standardised and taught at more than 5,000 schools around the globe, easing the process of transitioning between two schools, even in different countries.

Special education in Aberdeen

Aberdeen's special needs programme is based on three major facets: inclusivity, early intervention and participation, and effective targeting of resources. These facets define the city's approach to catering for special needs.

Children identified as having special educational needs are thoroughly assessed in order to provide the correct level of assistance. The council's policy is geared towards the idea that interventions should be as minimally intrusive as possible while also maximising efficiency and effectiveness. 

Different levels of care are allocated according to each child's needs. Milder cases may only require assistance from the child's class teacher (universal support), while slightly more severe cases might warrant assistance on a school-wide basis involving several staff members (targeted support). Children who require the highest level of care will receive specialised assistance from multiple parties, both internal and external to the school (multi-agency support).

Homeschooling in Aberdeen

Under Scottish law, expats in Aberdeen are able to homeschool their children. Parents wanting to take their children out of a state school have to get permission from the local council, but if an expat pupil has never attended a Scottish school or if they attended a private school, they won't need official permission.

The Scottish government has published a Home Education Guidance document aimed at helping parents interested in homeschooling their children. Those homeschooling their children are obligated by law to provide suitable resources and deliver an adequate standard of education appropriate to the child's age, ability and aptitude. Homeschooling families are reviewed annually by the authorities in order to ensure these standards are upheld.